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Cosi Fan Tutti. Michael Dibdin (Aurelio Zen #5)

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  1,008 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
An Aurelio Zen Novel
Michael Dibdin's overburdened Italian police inspector has been transferred to Naples, where the rule of law is so lax that a police station may double as a brothel. But this time, having alienated superiors with his impolitic zealousness in every previous posting, Zen is determined not to make waves.
Too bad an American sailor (who may be neither Amer
Paperback, 400 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Faber & Faber (first published 1996)
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Feb 03, 2012 Silvio111 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have not finished this one yet; I am half way through, but I think this may be my least favorite ZEN mystery. (I am a hopeless fan; I am working my way through them all...)

This plot runs parallel to the famous opera, "COSE FAN TUTTE." I think the opera title refers to a female "tutte" ("all"); as in "Women are all like that;" whereas the book title has been altered ("TUTTI") to refer to the masculine, or inclusive, as in truly everybody, not just all women. Forgive my mangled Italian translati
Bruno Bouchet
Dead Lagoon was the first Zen mystery I read and I can see why Dibdin went in this direction for Cosi Fan Tutti. Looking back, Dead Lagoon was pretty grim and miserable both in weather and mood. Clearly Dibdin wanted some fun for the next book and he certainly has it with this. The plot of opera is quite cleverly updated and interwoven into the book and the opening is beautifully cinematic in it's following of the garbage truck. You don’t really need to know the opera to spot the operatic like q ...more
Lukasz Pruski
"Everybody in Naples is more or less a gangster, my dear. It's a question of degree."

Zen again. Così fan tutti (1996) is my fifth novel by Michael Dibdin featuring the unconventional, unpredictable, and often unlucky police inspector Aurelio Zen. This time the plot takes us to Naples (the Italian name Napoli - coming from Greek Neapolis - sounds much better, of course), and is closely based on motifs from Lorenzo da Ponte's libretto to Mozart's famous opera buffa Così fan tutte. Note the one-let
Sep 17, 2014 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
So funky. I'll write more in a couple days. Jet lag is a harsh and unforgiving mistress.

- Robert Farwell / Edward Jones library / Mesa, AZ 2014
Lyn Elliott
Jan 08, 2015 Lyn Elliott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, mystery
This is the least satisfactory Aurelio Zen i have read. Here we see Zen with little integrity, turning his back on responsibility, accepting and entering into the corrupt and inefficient world of crime and policing in Naples. There's not much appealing about Zen's character in this book.
The Cosi Fan Tutti theme is far too complicated to sustain and the whole plot goes up in the air in the end, like coloured paper shapes.
I think it is time for me to move to books about Italy written by Italians,
Oct 02, 2011 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave up on this book with less than 50 pages left to read. I enjoyed the TV movies based on Dibdin's Zen mysteries, so i thought i would enjoy the books. Man, what a disappointment. The novel starts out witty and interesting and slowly degenerates into a boring, unfocused mess. There is no momentum to the story, and Dibdin tries hard to be clever and unusual, but just turns out confusing and irritating. I think this may be a rare case where the film adaptations are superior to the books.
Aug 02, 2015 Lauri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Michael. I love how clever you are, how you put in small plot elements that I forget about until they come up to surprise me much later in the book and add to the complexity of the case; how Aurelio is a good man despite himself... but. Sigh. This one was just too silly in the end. Like a parody of an Aurelio Zen book. And it started with such promise. I'll keep reading, but hope this is an anomaly.
Jan 11, 2013 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I loved this one. It was exactly the pick-me-up I needed after Dead Lagoon, which was depressing. I'm not at all familiar with the opera, but this book made me think of a Shakespearean comedy, especially the dénouement.
Jan 03, 2008 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007-reads, mysteries
This is the first Aurelio Zen mystery I've read although it probably won't be the last. (Michael Dibdin, sadly, died in 2007). Set in Naples, this book is a bit of a tour-de-force as it is loosely based on the Mozart opera of the same name, but updated to modern-day Italy. Quite enjoyable.
Starts strong, but degenerates into farce as Dibdin tries to cram his crime plot into a re-telling of the opera of the same name.
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears on my blog. Any links in the review on the blog are not reproduced here.

This was a DNF. Note: minor spoilers.

Set in Napoli (Naples) in Italy, this novel is one of a series, but it isn't the first in this series, and I haven't read any of the others, so that may or may not affect my take on this. I've actually been to Napoli, but the visit was so brief and it was so long ago that I barely recall it. It seems that everyone who writes detective series has t
Jun 03, 2016 Kristin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could say “what’s not to love?” about the book, but it didn’t blow me away by any means. It was entertaining, and there were definitely things I enjoyed about it, but it just generally was mediocre. Now that I’ve given it that ringing endorsement, if you care to keep reading I will tell you why.

The story takes place in Naples and centers on a police officer, Aurelio Zen, recently transferred from a posting in northern Italy. We follow Zen through his professional and private endeavors,
Jan 29, 2008 Guy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Net als The Dying Of The Light behoort deze Cosi Fan Tutti, het vijfde deel in Dibdins Aurelio Zen-reeks, tot de meer tongue-in-cheek werken van de Britse misdaadschrijver. Deze keer is het geen binnenstebuitenkering van de klassieke whodunit, maar wil het een interdisciplinaire brug slaan naar Mozarts Cosi Fan Tutte, een opera buffa, wat een luchtiger subgenre was met Italiaanse roots. Net als in de opera (al heb ik dat wel moeten opzoeken) gaat het boek van start met twee jongelingen (in de op ...more
Mar 25, 2012 rabbitprincess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the series, fans of the opera familiar w/the series
Shelves: bibliotheque, 2012
* * * 1/2

If I were to sum up this book in one word, it would be "zany". (Or should that be "Zen-y"?) After the events of Dead Lagoon, Zen decides he'd like a bit of a rest, so he transfers to Naples, where he oversees the harbour detail and turns a blind eye to the scandalous goings-on at the police station there in exchange for being left alone. This frees up time for him to become involved in a plot hatched by a wealthy widow, who does not want her daughters becoming romantically involved with
J.D. Holiday
A Review of Cosi Fan Tutti by Michael Dibdin: In A NUTSHELL

I admit I had expectations about Michael Dibdin’s books with Aurelio Zen as the main character. I had been introduced to Aurelio Zen in the PBS Masterpiece Mystery series and loved all the characters which led me to buy other books in the series. In Cosi Fan Tutti, I was disappointed.

In general this story was a good one. Zen is a police inspector who tries to enforce the law in Naples, Italy where crime is part of every level of the pol
Mar 05, 2015 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Dibdin's Italian mysteries starring grumpy, enigmatic Aurelio Zen, a police detective. It is set in Naples, and Dibdin borrows from comic opera in his portrayal of this city, with its Mafia clans and soothsayers and underworld characters. Each chapter is short, like a scene from a fast moving play, and titled with a quote from an opera. Zen finds himself dealing with a few problems - he is investigating the murders of 3 political figures supposedly by some new terrorist outfit, an ...more
Aug 10, 2011 Vicky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had read a couple of these years ago, but the early books are now being dramatized as a new series on "Masterpiece Mystery". Now having gone back and read "Vendetta" and "Cabal", I can only say that British author Michael Dibdin, who died in 2007, is probably turning over in his grave because the TV episodes bare little resemblance to the books and it is just such a stretch to have all these British actors with their various Brit accents playing all the Italian characters. This is one PBS Myst ...more
Jan 14, 2011 Kathy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy, read-in-2011
So awful I was embarrassed for the author.

Having seen Rufus Sewell looking so uncomfortable in the BBC's Zen (stilted dialogue, wooden acting, Sewell looking like he was thinking 'get me out of this turkey'...), I was curious to know what the books contained that the TV version seemed to be missing.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. The TV series is only a reflection of the stilted dialogue, ridiculous plot and cartoon characterisation to be found in this truly awful piece of garbage. I have to have a
Aug 14, 2011 dannymac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What did I think? I liked it, of course!!!! The pbs mystery series called "zen" renewed my interest in the late Dibdin just recently. Had always wondered why none of his books from this series had never been dramatized. Have two of these "aurelio zen" mysteries before but not in about ten years. He's a good read if you like Italy and the customs and lifestyle practiced by the Italians that seems alien to Americans, even to Americans of Italian descent; who are mainly of neapolitan origin, the vi ...more
Jun 05, 2011 Mitch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, kindle, italy
I came to Cosi Fan Tutti after watching the excellent BBC adaptations starting Rufus Sewell. My guess was and is that this is probably an unrepresentative way to begin reading the Zen canon (and frankly I hope that this proves to be the case). That said, I found this a perfectly enjoyable read, albeit a bit zanier than my usual fare. (Is there a "zany mystery" genre?) You don't have to know the Mozart opera to appreciate the conceit of the novel: my only exposure is the excellent 1996 Australia ...more
Jun 24, 2014 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful opera buffa with star crossed lovers, mistaken identities, cross dressing prostitutes, chase scenes with garbage trucks, a magician, some crooks and Zen's cranky elderly mother, his soon to be ex wife and his about to be former lover Tania swooping in from Rome in the last act to create a hilarious and melodramatic climax.

Zen, more cynical than ever, has fallen afoul of his superiors in Rome and given himself a pre-emptive demotion, volunteering for an assignment with the harbor deta
Jack London
This is my first read of a very popular British crime novelist whose hero, Inspector Zen, is a beleaguered Italian police detective who sets out to avoid getting tangled up in one crime but winds up solving another. On this occasion he has been exiled to Naples, where he doesn’t fit in with the local force but does help his landlady deal with the fact of her two daughters’ mismatched love of two low grade hoodlums. Fortunately for all, he also cracks the case of who has been inflicting vigilante ...more
Dec 21, 2015 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading other people's reviews of this novel, I set my expectations low; therefore, it was a wonderful surprise to find out how much I enjoyed the book!
Aurelio Zen is sent in disgrace to Naples where he heads up a somewhat disreputable police station. He turns a blind eye to all the shady dealings going on around him while he tries to put in the hours until retirement. Unfortunately, he gets unwillingly caught up in some major crimes. Along the way, he is mistaken for a mafia boss and he
Italo Italophiles
Michael Dibdin wrote several Aurelio Zen police procedurals set in various locations in Italy. I've read Cosi Fan Tutti and Dead Lagoon, but they didn't make me a fan of the series. It is all rather too butch and lacking in compassion for my tastes. But if that is your style, then go for it, because the books are very well written.

Aurelio Zen goes through the usual problems with his colleagues and women, in Naples and Venice, in the two books I read. Zen is taciturn and methodical throughout, an
Sep 13, 2013 M.R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aurelio Zen discovers what it means to be punished for doing the right thing when it's impolitic (and of course, his superiors see it as failure on his part, even though it was nothing of the sort). Watch the twists and turns and lengths Zen will go to to somehow end up with an acceptable result, or at least answers -- all while trying to keep his small perks like an excellent cup of coffee and a pastry, not to mention maintain his sprezzatura. Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to be smarter and mo ...more
Jan 04, 2015 Jocelyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Zen is in Naples now, trying to make the best of his lack of political capital. He'd like to do as little work as possible, but what with brawling sailors and missing fat cats, that's not going to be possible.

I lost interest in the story about half-way through. Once all the players had appeared, I found I really didn't care what happened to them. I guess that's the way of a comic opera -- flat characters, lots of laughs, and not much of a plot. If I had known anything about the Mozart opera on w
Jul 13, 2013 Helen rated it liked it
Fun playing with the plot of the Mozart opera of (almost) the same name (chapter headings are in Italian, from the opera, but with English translation in the table of contents). This one is set in Naples (I like the way Zen hops from place to place, unlikely as it seems). He gets himself into the usual scrapes and acts in a way one would not expect from a senior policeman, and various other characters turn out not to be quite what they seem. Difficult to say much more without giving too much awa ...more
Dec 18, 2013 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable Aurelio Zen story, even if not much of a mystery. With a plot the parallels the well known opera, and many comic scenes, this is, perhaps, an atypical Zen story. However, there is so much to enjoy here that being cheated a bit on the mystery is nothing to worry about.

My favorite scene involved non-English speaking Zen trying to interrogate an American through the use of a Neopolitan woman whose British dialect was so thick that she, a) had difficulty understanding the Venetian Zen, b)
Anita Edwards
In some ways a comfortingly typical Michael Dibdin book, in others, an experiment that didn't quite work. Reinventing the Italian opera as a murder mystery may be a great writing exercise, but it probably should have stayed in the classroom or WIP file. But then, I've seen the opera a couple of times & would relegate it to the genera I call "dippy Italian"--mostly inoffensive, vocally decorative and having a humerously improbable plot no one takes too seriously. Kind of like a Louis quatorze ...more
Mary Ann
Mar 19, 2014 Mary Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever writing, spoofing the Cosi plot while fitting the details into Aurelio Zen's failing police career. After Zen is reassigned to Naples, known for its corruption and mafia-style crime, he vows to keep his head down and stay out of the limelight..actually, just stay out of the police station. Once his new crew realizes he's going to leave them alone, he becomes their favorite chief. But, events align to backfire on him, and soon he is entangled trying to manage an unwanted love quartet as we ...more
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Michael Dibdin was born in 1947. He went to school in Northern Ireland, and later to Sussex University and the University of Alberta in Canada. He lived in Seattle. After completing his first novel, The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, in 1978, he spent four years in Italy teaching English at the University of Perugia. His second novel, A Rich Full Death, was published in 1986. It was followed by Ratki ...more
More about Michael Dibdin...

Other Books in the Series

Aurelio Zen (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Ratking (Aurelio Zen, #1)
  • Vendetta (Aurelio Zen, #2)
  • Cabal (Aurelio Zen, #3)
  • Dead Lagoon (Aurelio Zen, #4)
  • A Long Finish (Aurelio Zen, #6)
  • Blood Rain (Aurelio Zen, #7)
  • And Then You Die (Aurelio Zen, #8)
  • Medusa (Aurelio Zen, #9)
  • Back to Bologna (Aurelio Zen, #10)
  • End Games (Aurelio Zen, #11)

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