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Brick

Brick

End Games - Michael Dibdin The last book in a wonderful series. Last it would seem because of the author's untimely death, not because of his intention to end the character. In this series we are able to enjoy and participate in the career of the protagonist, as he progresses thru an at times comically haphazard progression of promotions within the Questura. Aureilo Zen is somewhat akin to Harry Flashman, in that he is often an anti-hero, interested in keeping a low profile, enjoying the pleasures of food, wine, locale, and sometimes women. And he is often credited with a level of sophistication of intent and accomplishment that is well beyond what he himself had in mind. With a great deal of irony, in this the last of the series, Aureilio is unhappily immersed in Calabria, where the food is not to his taste, without much contact with his wife, and his first intent to keep a low profile and serve out his tour of duty is thwarted by the arousal of his personal ire at an instance of the perennial Calabrian occupation of kidnapping. As a result Zen uses the very substantial resources of the Questura to completely defeat the primary villans, the sadistic local drug czar and boss who has committed a brutal murder that starts the book, and also the childhood friend of the boss, a totally venal fixer who sets up the kidnapping. Meanwhile, Zen has the cultural sensitivity to solve a fifty year old arson/murder that sets up the later murder that was not the original intention of the kidnapping, eliciting long suppressed information from a wonderfully characterized Materfamillia, while frustrating the intentions of a team of American antiquity looters who completely and very funnily underestimate the cleverness of the Calabrians, the American team led by a fixer who ends up fixed, and an American dotcom billionaire gamer who pays a fortune to sink in the Mediterranean Sea a fake replica of the Temple Menorah acquired by the Romans who destroyed the Temple in the 1st century, thus in an amazingly topical and funny subplot leaving the American billionaire convinced that he has delayed the impending Apocalypse. Finally, after this totally astonishing series of accomplishments, entirely driven by Aureilio Zen's desire for justice for the original kidnapping victim, Zen leaves to return to his original post, in disgrace because the entirely deserving primary villans are killed and not captured. Ironically, Zen has achieved much more than the complacent police chief for whom Zen has been a temporary replacement during the chief's recuperation from a self-inlicted gunshot wound in the foot has or will ever accomplish in the chief's entire career. A fascinating look at Calabria, the culture including the remnants of fuedalism in the 1950s, the psychology of the people, an exciting police procedural, with the mordant wit we have grown to love and will so much miss.