Cabal by Michael Dibdin

ISBN 0571167608
  • Author:
    Michael Dibdin
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  • Publisher:
    Faber and Faber; New Ed edition (1993)
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  • Size PDF version
    1185 kb
  • Size FB2 version
    1483 kb
  • Size EPUB version
    1573 kb
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Italian detective Aurelio Zen is summoned by the Vatican to investigate the suicide of Prince Ludovico Ruspanti, who leaps to his death in St. Peter's basilica, and discovers a secret political organization called the Cabal. Reprint.

Michael Dibdin certainly knows how to write mysteries that demonstrate a unique facility to draw the reader into a world where he is in complete control and what is assumed in the beginning of the book turns out to be a clever mask. In this book the reader is tantalized by the prospect of Vatican intrigues at the highest level. The reader feels that there will be a grand denouncement at the end exposing, and here you can take your pick, nefarious Jesuits, Cardinals, Opus Dei members, Freemasons, a coven of witches comprised of Girl Scouts, etc. Well you get my drift.

However our misanthropic Zen with luck and determination reveals a far more prosaic plot and I feel that the reader will not feel cheated. Aside from the mystery itself, the plight of Zen in his personal life keeps pace with the developments in the story. His relationships with his mother, the tantalizing Tania, his co-workers keep our interest and present a leitmotif to balance out the larger concerns.

If you want a story line that does not indulge in the preposterous, then this is decidedly for you. I shan't go into specifics because that would truly spoil the pleasure being taken into Zen's world step by step.
As poor 50-something Aurelio juggles keeping his life with his new girlfriend, Tania, a secret from his now distressingly mobile mother with the backbiting intrigues that occur on a daily basis at the Criminalpol, he is summoned to the Vatican to assist with the investigation of the murder of a Prince Ludovico Ruspanti, a Knight of Malta, who quite literally tumbled to his death from the basilica's dome. With the tenacity of a pit bull, Zen slowly but surely cuts though the red tape dealings between the separate bureaucracies of the Vatican and Italy, and dodges encounters with the carbaniari, as he lies his way through the riot of events that follow his compliance with the Vatican to allow the Prince's death to be recorded as a suicide. When he unearths the existence of the "Cabal", a secret organization within the Knights of Malta, the snowball of information Zen has gathered begins an enjoyably fast and by no means boring descent into the world of computer hackers, would-be informants encountered during a high-speed train ride and a strange brother and sister duo ensconced in an old and decaying family house in fashionable Milan.

As in the first two Zen novels, Aurelio's gritty acceptance of his world's self-absorbed machinations entitles him to use some less than admirable avenues of manipulation to get to the truth and at the same time make life more comfortable for Zen. The most delightful portions of this installment explores the undercurrent of vulnerabity Zen experiences when he uncovers secret organizations within his own existence--- his mother's world no longer revolves around him, and Tania, busily promoting a mail-order gourmet food business, may be two-timing him. I look forward to Zen's further 'adventures' with his women and compliated life in the Eternal City.
The pages were printed backwards from right to left. I had to start from the back of the book and read forward. The story is another Aurelio Zen gem.
Dibdin is a harder read then some mysteries. However, this was well worth the time to read every word and look up some.
I'm very disappointed at how Zen has changed. Previously he was relatively honest [for the locale] but now he thinks he was foolish. In reality, it's foolish to blackmail a killer, not to mention believing only the people who lie and dismissing the truth as deception.
A little slow for me. I would rather watch the show in PBS. The book spends a lot of time describing fashioned, geographic locations and not nuch on the case.
The author Michael Dibdin is a brilliant stylist whose plots set the reader down in a labyrinth of sub-plots. Additionally, through the descriptions of places and events, the reader is informed about the cultural-socio-political realities of Italian life - unfortunately, not so different from any other country's.
Another wonderful story about detective Aurelio Zen, this time solving a murder mystery at the Vatican. Like all Dibdin stories, it is a very complex problem, and the many people of power have a vested interest in Zen solving the problem in their favor. It is fascinating the way Zen manages to balance all interests and still solve the problem. It is not solved neatly like American and British mysteries, with the bad guy being found and that is the end of it. Finding the bad guy might result in more problems for Zen.