Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cabal” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Cabal (Aurelio Zen #3)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  894 ratings  ·  88 reviews
In Cabal, master crime writer Michael Dibdin plunges us into a murky world of church spies, secret societies, cover-ups, and mistaken identities.

An apparent suicide in the Vatican may in fact have been a muder conducted by a centuries-old cabal within The Knights of Columbus. A discovery among the medieval manuscripts of the Vatican Library leads to a second death, Zen tr
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 6th 2012 by Vintage (first published 1992)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cabal, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cabal

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,385)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jack Erickson
I've read Dibdin before and thoroughly enjoyed his stories of detective Aurelio Zen, which are very original and engaging. Readers can earn more about Italian daily life, culture, politics, and morality from Dibdin than from guidebooks or even traveling. Dibdin was English, taught in Italy for several years, and became a very astute observer. Unfortunately, he died a couple years ago and readers won't be able to enjoy any new books.

In "Cabal," Zen is assigned to be liaison with the Vatican polic
I had put off reading any of Dibdin's popular Zen series on the grounds that gritty, macho tales of corruption are not, generally, my thing. After watching the new miniseries adaptation, however, I decided to give them a shot. Cabal was a well-plotted thriller with a nice twist at the end. Sure, it's full of corrupt organizations and unfair political machinations, but they are presented as simply being part of the Italian modo di vivere, and they actually come off as being rather charming. Zen i ...more
Another Aurelio Zen mystery where Zen stays in Rome and gets embroiled in a money laundering scheme involving the separate state of the Vatican; who knew they were like an off shore account? Author Dibdin entraps the reader with rich descriptions of settings and Italian social life that makes one not want the book to end. I wanted to go out with Zen and have grappa in espresso for breakfast and search the ancient, twisting, cobblestone streets to find a mansion with a crazy lady designing cuttin ...more
Mar 19, 2011 rabbitprincess rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like Italy and clever mysteries
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Masterpiece Mystery
Shelves: 2011, from-me-to-me
Another entertaining read in the Aurelio Zen series. Even though I read it pretty much right after finishing Vendetta, I still really enjoyed it and did not experience Zen burnout.

The plot may sound a bit farfetched given the overexposure of Dan Brown's cheesy religious thrillers -- in Cabal, a suicide in St. Peter's Basilica may have been murder, and the murder may have been committed by a secret cabal within an ages-old religious order, but Dibdin makes it work, primarily because he was writin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aurelio Zen is an interesting figure. Very pragmatic and not overly inconvenienced by ethical considerations, yet still having some standards. Perhaps you'd call him a depressive realist? Yet, despite being willing to compromise the truth to meet the expectations of the Vatican and his own bosses and carefully following the CYA rule, he doesn't seem to be able to avoid angering just about everyone. Gosh, I would NOT want to be him! And the ending scene.... well, let's hope that it convinces Zen ...more
Aurelio Zen -sarjan kolmas osa tapahtuu pääosin Zenin tuoreessa kotikaupungissa, Roomassa. Dibdin kuvaa etenkin Venetsiaa ja Perugiaa niin mukaansatempaavasti, että odotin innolla, mitä Vatikaanin muurien takaa saadaan revittyä irti. No... parempiakin dekkareita Kirkkovaltion alueelta on tullut.

Alku lähtee liikkeelle lupaavasti: muutaman sivun jälkeen saadaan ensimmäinen ruumis keskelle Pietarinkirkkoa. Putoaminen näyttää onnettomuudelta, ja Zenkin on oman mukavuudenhalunsa vuoksi taipuvainen vi
Peter Auber
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is the third and final book in the Dibdin omnibus I borrowed. It starts off with a 'jumper' who falls from the dome of St Peter's onto the floor of the Nave during a mass. Now here is why I resent Dan Brown. This book, being a mystery, set in the Vatican City, centering around St Peter's, with a church conspiracy, well it reeked of Angels and Demons. Even though this came many years before and isn't anywhere as silly. That's what you get for enjoying a silly, fun beach read.

My main problem
Like many people, after watching the first episode of Zen on BBC1 last week, I though I might try one of the books. I think Amazon were counting on this and had this one, which is the third in the Aurelio Zen series at just £1 on Kindle.

(Is it just me, or is Rufus Sewell getting better with age btw?)

Anyway, I was about 75% of the way through when Sunday’s episode #2 came on, and because of the start, I realised that it must be the book I was reading. Which it was, except in no shape or form was
Roderick Hart
This is the third book in the series featuring Aurelio Zen, a detective from Venice. Each book is set in a different location, in this case Rome, since the cabal in question is thought to be a secret society operating within the Vatican. This review contains a mild spoiler concerning Zen’s love life.

The starting point is the death of Prince Ludovico Ruspanti, who falls a hundred and fifty feet to his death in the chapel at St. Peter's in Rome. Zen is invited to investigate the death. Though the
Michael Dibdin writes compact, tightly-plotted mysteries set in and around the mean streets, sleazy docks, and upscale environs of urban Italy. CABAL's a Rome and Vatican novel, which opens with a rousing, fall-from-the-top-of-St-Peter's death and zips onward from there. Like the other Dibdin novel I read this summer, CABAL clocks in at just about 250 pages: Dibdin is really good at compressing 350-page plots into 250 pages without making the narrative feel or seem any less densely textured. Thi ...more
While Cabal is another work of mostly internal monologues it's an altogether looser, more enjoyable read than Vendetta or Ratking. As Zen's lot in life improves he's more energetic and active, although still far from a hero. Maybe Dibdin was starting to hit his stride. I'll know when Dead Lagoon gets in at the library.

This is also the last of the novels BBC adapted. If I haven't said it, they bear only the slightest resemblance to the books. Both are good, though.
I love every book in this series, but CABAL, the third one, ended a bit abruptly, I thought. It is typical for an Aurelio Zen story to end with the detective in some sort of disadvantage; usually physical injury. But in this one, he solves the mystery but we don't learn the consequences of that discovery upon Zen.

I suspect that his relationship with the beautiful Tania is rapidly disintegrating. Dibdin has this ability to elicit our sympathy for the clever yet stoic Zen while at the same time re
R.J. Lynch
Michael Dibdin was the boss and his early death a sad blow to lovers of good crime fiction. An Englishman who lived in Italy, he understood the extent of corruption on life there at every level. His detective protagonist, Aurelio Zen, was more fully realised (less of a collection of surface characteristics) than Simenon's Maigret. Cabal is one of his best but all his Aurelio Zen books are worth reading.
Third book in the Aurelio Zen series.

I picked this book up after watching the BBC Zen adaptations, which I enjoyed. But there are significant differences between the TV drama and the novel. This 're-write' is to be expected as I cannot see the Vatican handing over St.Peter's to the BBC for a couple of days filming.

I have taken to Zen who is not quite bent but does operate on the margins, as most of the characters do. Public servants runs private schemes from ministerial buildings using state equ
Zen is not a patch on Brunetti! plots more complicated and this one seems to owe a debt to Dan Brown, with secrets in the Vatican etc, and not such an engaging man - also sails closer to the corruption line and willing to be economical with the truth, by implication. also less humour, relations with other officers less well drawn and no Elektra.
False Millennium
Aurelio Zen back in Rome taking on Vatican City. An odd twist at the end. During the final chase scene, there was an interesting passage that applies so well to the recession we are going through today. A body comes shooting down from the glass ceiling of a shopping galleria:

"Nevertheless, it was some such gesture of protest that sprang to most people's minds when they heard the sound of breaking glass. The shop windows were a powerful symbol of the socioeconomic barriers against which the poor
Janne Paananen
Eipä päässyt tämä kirja koukuttamaan missään vaiheessa. Takakannen tekstin mukaan kirjassa seikkaileva Aurelio Zen on mielenkiintoisimpia poliisihahmoja. No tämän kirjan perusteella kommentoisin tuohon, että bullshit. Zen on aivan tyypillinen kirjallisuuden antisankarihahmo: vaatimaton, tunaroiva, naisasioissaan onneton ja vieläpä lahjottavissa. Yleensä antisankareiden toilailuja on hauska lukea, mutta tässä siinä ollaan menty täysin metsään pyrkimällä kuitenkin tekemään Zenistä vakavasti otetta ...more
A minor Roman prince falls (or is pushed?) from the gallery in St. Peter's, falling to his death during a mass for tourists. The Vatican calls Zen in for spin control. The Vatican policeman who was watching the prince is electrocuted in his shower. There is - or isn't- a sinister group operating within the secretive Knights of Malta (who may or may not be in league with the CIA). Zen's lover Tania suddenly seems to have too much money and is taking mysterious trips. She has secrets that worry hi ...more
Sean Brennan
In this the third book in the series, Zen is sent to investigate the apparent suicide of a high ranking member of the Italian aristocracy, unfortunately said death occurred in the Vatican, which meant that Zen becoming involved with that bastion of openness and full disclosure the Catholic Church.

The story contains enough red herrings to support a mid sized fishmongers, but for me what I love about the series is the utter corruption of the various police departments that are supposedly responsib
Ehn. I quite liked Ratking, but this was disappointing. Can't put my finger on why, except that the conspiracy red herrings didn't move me, the parallelism between the beginning and the end struck as more arbitrary than meaningful or symbolic, and that I'm still comparing the written Zen to the television Zen and finding Didbin's original character to come up wanting. Which is strange for me, and not a fair way to review a book. I'm likely to try another title, because I am enjoying the writing, ...more
Becky Hoffman
Some people seem to be having problems with this book because they keep comparing it to the BBC Zen tv series. Ok first things first, the episode is based loosely off of the book and I enjoyed the book quite a bit when I read it. Zen is not your average mystery novel sleuth. In fact, he doesn't like to carry guns and chooses to let things play out than trying to run around saving the day. So how can you demand a lot of action from him? The inner workings of the Catholic church was a fun insight, ...more
via Listening Books charity (audiobooks for people who find reading paper books or text too difficult)
Gerald Sinstadt
A man plunges to his death from the cupola of St Peter's in Rome. Did he fall or was he pushed? A tempting enough beginning. Aurelio Zen's need to be a conscientious policeman while coping with professional and church politics thickens the brew enticingly.

It is Zen's somewhat odd romantic relationship that first tests the reader's willingness to follow wherever the author may lead, and it has to be said that ensuing events are increasingly bizarre. Explanation, when it comes, is lengthy, tortuou
Lukiessa unohtuu, ettei Dibdin olekaan italialainen. Elävää kerrontaa ja hyvin rakenneltu rikostarina.
Tim Prosser
What can you say about Michael Dibdin, that’s not been said before? Reading his books is like taking a holiday, you always feel utterly refreshed coming out the other side. Of all the Italian detectives, including Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti and Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Salvo Montalbano, Zen is the most vivid, the most fully-formed. He's not always certain which side of the law he operates on and is quite happy to condone corruption. He's shady, infinitely likeable and would prob ...more
Third in the Aurelio Zen Italian policeman mystery series. The story is taking place a year after the previous novel. Again Zen is faced with working out the what happened and whys for a murder in the Vatican that is made to appear as a suicide. Instead of dealing with the internal politics of the Italian police force and politics; he is dealing with the same thing involving the Vatican and a mysteries powerful group known as the Cabal. The solution is bit different than what was expected.

A lot
Sean Mccarney
Very different from the recent TV adaptation and, for some reason, unsatisfying. The plot seems unnecessarily and falsely convoluted with characters which you either do not care about or fundamentally dislike. Even Zen is becoming more of an anti-hero. In previous books, he 'did the right thing' in spite of himself, whereas here he just seems cynical, petulant and self-serving.
The mandatory digs at the Catholic Church are all here of course and far form being 'right on liberal' just seem old and
Irene B.
I started reading Dibdin's Zen series with "Dead Lagoon" (Venice) after watching the first three stories on Masterpiece. Then I went back to read the latter and was pleasantly surprised that "Cabal", the novel, was much richer with Vatican detail and plot. I thought the ending a bit of a mess--difficult to pinpoint exactly what was annoying--it could have used some editing for clarity of thought. I like the Zen novels more than the tv shows. It's interesting that Zen himself is more error prone ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 46 47 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Excursion to Tindari (Inspector Montalbano, #5)
  • Death in Springtime
  • A Death In Tuscany
  • A Sea of Troubles (Commissario Brunetti, #10)
  • Carte Blanche
  • The Lizard's Bite (Nic Costa, #4)
  • Cold Comfort (Officer Gunnhilder #2)
  • Set in Darkness (Inspector Rebus, #11)
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)
  • 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)
  • End Games (Aurelio Zen, #11)
The Last Sherlock Holmes Story Ratking (Aurelio Zen, #1) Dead Lagoon (Aurelio Zen, #4) Vendetta (Aurelio Zen, #2) Così Fan Tutti (Aurelio Zen, #5)

Share This Book