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End Games (Aurelio Zen #11)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  556 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. This is it -- the final Aurelio Zen novel, now that death has claimed the Italian copper's talented creator, Michael Dibdin. End Games is a fitting finale to a remarkable series of books, in which Dibdin developed the character of his difficult but tenacious Italian policeman and, inter alia, gave readers a vivid and atmospheric ...more
Published August 1st 2007 by Faber & Faber (first published 2007)
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Dec 21, 2010 notgettingenough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
This book is about bullying. Coming from the gut.

My niece goes on about her mother who is always interpreting herself as Maltese, though her father wasn’t even born there and she has spent all of several days on the island. I totally agree with you, Martha. And yet despite that I’m perfectly capable of doing just the same. This book is about Calabria. I was raised in the dark shadow of the brutal nature of existence there. This even though my father was born here and I have most certainly not pu
Mar 27, 2010 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the last of Dibdin's detective novels that were as much a tour of Italy as stories of crime, old vs. new Italy (crime being a hallmark of both) and, um, what's the Italian word for angst? This one is set in Calabria, where Dibdin's pensive, sometimes even depressed, Venetian detective Aurelio Zen tries to get to the bottom of the murder of an American who was ostensibly scouting locations for a film. As usual, a long history of grudges and resentment plays into the seemingly senseless de ...more
Jul 05, 2011 Mitch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, kindle, italy
The last novel in the Zen series was frankly disappointing. The book takes place in Calabria and, as with most of the other books, Dibdin does a good job of painting the character of the region and its people. Zen is in a fairly pro-active and effective mode, and we see less of his personal life than we have in most of the previous stories.

Where the book falls down, however, is with a number of the key villians. Perhaps I'm out of touch, but I find a character (and a middle-aged one at that) se
Lyn Elliott
Oct 27, 2014 Lyn Elliott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Dibdin's plot this time involves a couple of truly crazy men - the wild, game player Jake whose language and thinking processes are both stunted and almost unintelligible, and the crackhead Calabrian killer and general bad man Georgio. We also have the impassive Martin Nguyen, son of a Vietnamese torturer, a lost treasure trove, stolen antiquities, a self-idolising Italian film director, and ancestral loathings and hard life in Calabria. In all of this is the Venetian detective, Aurelia Zen, who ...more
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, a ...more
Lewis Weinstein
I am almost finished and very disappointed. I have enjoyed several previous Inspector Zen books, but this one has deteriorated into a confusing mess of characters, none of them remotely interesting, including Zen himself, who seems to be floating across the top of a plot indecipherable to him as well as to me.

I will finish the book and am prepared to eat my words if somehow there is an unexpectedly brilliant and satisfying resolution.

Nothing to eat. The story continued, some people died, it nev
I'm sorry to have begun at the end of the Aurelio Zen series, but by the time I finish reading them all in order, I'll be ready to re-read End Games. Some of Dibdin's sentences are so beautiful, I copy them into my commonplace book. (Can't say that about any other mystery writers, and I read most of the headliners.) Zen is Italian, and Venetian, but he's not the same kind of Italian/Venetian as Guido Brunetti, whom I also enjoy--when I feel like being comforted, reassured, entertained. Zen is fo ...more
Aurelio Zen's is on assignment in remote Calabria. He finds himself in the midst of a dubious movie effort in the region, a group searching for buried treasure, and the gruesome murder of an American visitor. The locals, of course, are close knit and closed mouthed in the remote area of Italy. And no matter how successful Zen is in his investigation of the murdered American, his investigations end in failure - but not because he failed. The joys of Italian politics.
Jan 20, 2014 Margareth8537 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
Zen in Calabria. A Venetian about as far away from Venice as he can get, and having to put up with the southern food.
We see some of his relationship with Gemma, and know this will never be developed as Dibdin died suddenly.
So we will never know how he intended to continue with Zen, although he seemed a more settled, less hypochondriac personality in this book
Lukasz Pruski
"End Games" is the first crime novel by Michael Dibdin that I have read, and the 11th and last in his series of books about the Italian police inspector, Aurelio Zen. Each novel takes place in a different part of Italy, and Mr. Dibdin who used to teach in Perugia for several years, uses his first-hand experience of the country. Despite my aversion for the concept of a crime novel series, I will look for other Aurelio Zen entries; the sense of location is conveyed very well in "End Games", and Mr ...more
Ravi Jain
PLOT: 3/5

This was a decent book. The main reason I picked this up is because I wanted to read an English author after long tryst with American ones. This was a refreshing change. The writing style was smooth and Italy was described in such a wonderful manner.

The main cons are that the characters are not strong & the story line was built beautifully but the tempo couldn't be maintained in the end.
Dec 10, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
An enjoyable mystery, although not the best in the series.The ones set in Venice were the best. It's sad, that there will be no more Zen mysteries to follow. Michael Dibdin, you are missed.
Jan 14, 2014 Helen rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 30, 2008 Billy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book for what it is – a mystery. The writer who just died is a Brit who apparently has spent a lot of time in Italy. This one is set in the hills of southern Italy, and incorporates a lot of local culture and politics. One interesting component of the plot was the existence in southern Italy of semi-feudalism until the 1950s. (Wow, I’d been amazed the feudal systems existed in Bolivia and Peru into the 50s, but Italy! Really though, sections of southern Europe were pretty close ...more
Oct 06, 2011 Kissmekate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aurelio Zen ist mal wieder fernab der Heimat unterwegs und vertritt in der kalabrischen Provinz einen krankgeschriebenen Kollegen. In einem verlassenen Bergdorf stirbt ein Amerikaner eines qualvollen Todes, seine verstümmelte Leiche wird wenig später gefunden. Dass das kein zufälliger Überfall auf einen Touristen war, ist schnell klar, aber was steckt sonst dahinter? Hatte der Mann irgendwelche Verbindungen in die abgelegene Bergregion, die nicht auf den ersten Blick ersichtlich sind?

Nicht nur d
Apr 09, 2013 Meredith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
brilliant mystery novel with considerable depth in the narrative and plot. I know its a cliche, but would characterise the writer as a "master of suspense", able to build the story with lashings of atmospheric landscape detail, and credible insights into the vagaries of the human psyche, both good and bad.
And if I am to be a real critic, I would say there is just enough historical detail to give the reader some appreciation of how historical forces have shaped the way people are responding to t
Aug 23, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Billed as the final Aurelio Zen in the long-running series, End Games has all the charm and delicious Italian craziness of the others. I'd bought this before the recent PBS airing of the British TV version of three of the early Zens. Compared to most TV detective yarns, they are fine, but it's REALLY hard to adapt a good police procedural. What makes them so addictive, so "page-turning" gets blunted and ginned up at the same time in the movie version. Typically. End Games also returns us to the ...more
Gail Barrington
the last Aurelio Zen novel, sadly, as Dibdin's died suddenly. In this one, Aurelio is more flesh and blood and less post-modern and it worked well. Of course he was against insurmountable odds in the wilds of Calabria, and his position, as usual, was temporary, but also, as usual, he managed to solve the crime and get next to no recognition for it.
Maybe Dibdin's best Aurelio Zen. Too bad he died in 2007; his work was getting better all the time. Another delicious slice of Italy. I've learned more of the diversity of that country from these novels than anywhere else. I intend to read all the Michael Dibdin I missed, but I will miss him and especially the great character Zen.
Leonardo Etcheto
Jan 05, 2010 Leonardo Etcheto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 19, 2014 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always, a very entertaining read. Very gritty. I did not realize that Michael Dibdin died and this was his last book. Very sad as I think he was too young to die.
I loved the description of Calabria - the land, the light, the people. So wonderful. This stayed with me for a long time after I'd finished.
Have the book and could not read it because I knew this was the end of the series. Must read it soon!
Nov 25, 2009 Scilla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aurelio Zen is temporary police chief in Cosenza, when Peter Newman, an advance scout for an American movie company is murdered. It turns out that Peter was previously Pietro Ottavio, from a wealthy local family. A local shady lawyer, Nicola Mantega, was involved in the kidnapping, and meets the son of the victim, Jake, and Martin Nguyen from the company. Jake becomes translator for Nguyen. The movie company is really looking for ancient artifacts; Jake falls in love with the undercover police w ...more
Bruno de Maremma
I actually really enjoyed this book up to page 287. Often hilarious, interesting plot twists but this time, unlike previous Zen novels, the plot lines were clear and straight forward. I was looking for a satisfying ending to tie them together and bring the various actors and their stories to a close but instead the author has Zen miraculously concoct a story to a minor thug that turns out to be exactly true. Said thug then reports the story to his boss who then gets nicely rounded up in a sting. ...more
Apr 13, 2014 Rachael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So sorry to see this series end!
Ernie Medeiros
Jan 02, 2016 Ernie Medeiros rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this read... as I have all the other books in this series. As always the humor and personalities of the characters are the real features, as are the descriptions of modern day Italy and the Italian zeitgeist. If you haven't read any of Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series DON'T start with this one. Not that it's a bad read, but it's NOT the ideal intro to the character. I'm a believer in starting at the beginning of series to get a feel for a characters evolution. Not absolutely necessary, of c ...more
Jun 06, 2011 Vicky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best mysteries I read in a long time. It was my first book by Michael Dibdin and unfortunately his last. The plot keeps you involved all the time, there are many layers to uncover and you want to visit Italy and see Calabria, try the food and see the scenery. After finishing the Millennium trilogy I did not find any good mystery book to read. This one has all the elements; culture differences, history at its worst, politics behind the surface and the craziness of wealth of modern Inte ...more
Kate Giese
Jan 30, 2008 Kate Giese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of police procedurals
Author is from the UK but lived in Seattle for many years. He recently passed away-- a real loss. Always a sure bet for a good read.

His chief inspector is Aurelio Zen, another wonderful sad sack hero. Each of his books is set in another spot but always in Italy. This one takes place in Calabria-- land of blood feuds going back hundreds of years! He also has a few things to say about contemporary society. Dot commers, in particular, get a real roasting in this work.

Peggy Oates
Oct 02, 2007 Peggy Oates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the last mystery Michael Dibdin wrote before he passed away this year. His early mysteries take place in Venice, and the later ones in Sardinia and Calabria. His love of Italy comes through in his great descriptions of the landscape and his detective, Aurelio Zen, is not a stock Italian character-- he has lots of northern angst and hates tomatoes. And his villians are always satisfyingly baaad. His style99 reminds me of Donald Westlake's.
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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)
  • Così Fan Tutti (Aurelio Zen, #5)
  • 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)

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