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Vendetta (Aurelio Zen #2)

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  1,657 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
In Italian police inspector Aurelio Zen, Michael Dibdin has given the mystery one of its most complex and compelling protagonists: a man wearily trying to enforce the law in a society where the law is constantly being bent. In this, the first novel he appears in, Zen himself has been assigned to do some law bending. Officials in a high government ministry want him to finge ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published June 6th 2012 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1990)
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Community Reviews

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Bill  Kerwin
Jan 15, 2008 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The second in the Aurelio Zen Italian mystery series is even better than Ratking, the first.

Zen is sent to Sardinia to frame a peasant for the murder of a millionaire gunned down on his "impregnable" island estate. The politicians are afraid they will be embarrassed if the real murderer is convicted.

One of the attractive things about the Zen mysteries is the ways in which the corruption of the Italian political system makes the solving of crimes a more interesting puzzle. Aurelio's task: solve
Oct 19, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"Everyone who used him for their own purposes seemed very satisfied with the results."
-Michae Dibdin, Vendetta


This is my third Zen novel and I really seem to be cocking up the order of it. I started with Book One (Ratking), fair enough, but I also bought and read Book Five (Così Fan Tutti), so now I'm trying to bring some order back into my life. There really is something attractive about these novels. I'm certain half of the mild success these novels have had are due to Dibdin discovering a nea
Kyle Pennekamp
Aug 11, 2011 Kyle Pennekamp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better mysteries... well, really one of the better character pieces I've read in a while. Picked this up from a library sale at a street fair in Park City for 50 cents. It's the second in the Aurelio Zen detective series, set in Rome. How's the plotting? You don't care. This isn't about plotting. It's about character. Zen has a "reputation for integrity" (and people constantly insult him with the phrase) amidst the most dishonest police force in the world. But what's great is it's not ...more
Becky Hoffman
Jan 04, 2012 Becky Hoffman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one was definitely better than the first. I mean the first book was still good in its own rights, but the second book had me on the edge of my seat more, especially at the end when nearly ten pages were spent on a very gut wrenching race between Zen and a man who is trying to kill him. It was an incredible scene and very well played out.

This time, Zen is trying to track down the murderer of a very wealthy man and his wife and friends, each of them gunned down in the millionaires home. The t
Roderick Hart
Apr 08, 2012 Roderick Hart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second in the series of novels featuring the detective from Venice, Aurelio Zen. As in the other titles, Dibden is excellent at bringing out the rivalries in Italian law enforcement, both between individuals and organisations. The political element is always lurking in the background and is, for lesser mortals like Zen, difficult to gauge.

Although this is only the second book in the series Zen is already disillusioned, having realised that getting a result might not be the same as i
Lukasz Pruski
"[...] reflecting on his conflicting feelings about being readmitted to the male free-masonry which ran not only the Criminalpol department but also the Ministry, the Mafia, the Church and the government."

In Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series each of the eleven stories happens in a different location in Italy. "Vendetta" (1990), the second novel in the series, begins in Rome but the most important part of the plot takes place in Sardinia. As I already mentioned in my reviews of three other book
Feb 23, 2011 rabbitprincess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like Italy, fans of understatedly clever detectives
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Masterpiece Mystery
Shelves: from-me-to-me, 2011
This was my first Aurelio Zen novel, and it won't be the last. I picked up on a recommendation of sorts from Masterpiece Mystery, which will be showing the (apparently only three-episode) TV adaptation of the Zen books. The novels being adapted are this one, Cabal and Ratking, so I am reading them in broadcast order instead of series order.

Even with this being the second novel in the series, I was very easily immersed in Zen's world. Dibdin's writing is well crafted and he is not afraid to use l
Feb 09, 2011 Dianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective, italy
I started reading the Aurelia Zen books after watching the BBC adaptation. The casting of the characters was excellent, but the scriptwriter took liberties with the plot. But then how does one film a book such as this.

As Vice-Questore in the criminalpol of the Ministry of the Interior (promotion after the 'successful' outcome of the Ruggiero Miletti kidnapping), Zen's job is to write resumes of cases before they are put to bed. His current task the that of the murder of Oscar Burolo, his wife a
Jennifer Sowle
Jul 24, 2014 Jennifer Sowle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second Aurelio Zen mystery/crime novel, and is as good or better than the first (Ratking). Dibdin paints the bureaucracy and political games of Rome in such cynical terms that you wonder how anything gets done. And Zen wonders this, too. But the real wonder is how everything bad that happens to Zen--and a lot of bad happens--turns into good luck for him in the end. You are left chuckling and shaking your head at the farce of it all. While reading this novel, notice that the word “ven ...more
Feb 25, 2011 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book in my Aurelio Zen omnibus. I felt more at home with the character in his second outing.

This book once again starts in Rome and gives us a lovely feel for the city. As well as a Venetian feeling slightly at odds with the world outside Venice. The book also takes us to Sardinia and gives us not the most flattering portrait of small town Sardinia. I was interested to learn how things we expect to happen in Sicily and Naples are as prevalent t in other outlying areas.

There we
Jul 23, 2015 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm starting to get into this series more. Unlike many of our leading investigators in the genre, Aurelio Zen has a refreshing tendency to make mistakes, get caught up in messy situations and office intrigue, take wrong turns in the investigation, etc., all on the way to solving crimes. That makes for a nice diversion from, say, the perfect Sherlock Holmes and his absurd powers of observation and deduction.
In Vendetta, Zen investigates a murder at an isolated mansion in Sardinia that has world-
Jul 10, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, italy
Oh how we miss Michael Dibdin, because every time we read one more Zen book that's one fewer on the list of those that remain to be read. This one is as enjoyable as ever - not so much because of the plot (I'm hopeless - I always lose the plot in Zen books) - but because of the sheer pleasure of following Zen around Italy, in this case Rome and Sardinia. Dibdin's characters, his descriptions of places, and his comic appreciation of Italian bureaucracy are second to none in the world of crime fic ...more
Mary Ronan Drew
This third Aurelio Zen mystery isn't as good as the first two and I quit on page 49. But it's still a fine mystery and Zen is an interesting character. Just not what I feel like reading right now.
May 23, 2017 Benjamin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Some of the reasons people like crime books are probably: the puzzle-solving intellectual side of it, the action and suspense, and the sense of justice. All the setting and clever underworld slang is just icing on the cake. Dibdin gets high marks in all three aspects, and is king of the icing, but the puzzle-solving as more to do with untangling the many layers of corruption then with the classic whodunit question. There are quite a few vendettas happening and much of the time Zen (the detective ...more
Sally Edsall
May 07, 2017 Sally Edsall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, italy
The first three books of the Aurelio Zen series (of which this is the second) read as a trilogy.
Whilst enjoyable, and as engaging as its predecessor, Ratking, and successor, Cabal, I thought there were some MINOR plotting weaknesses (eg a luxury car whose steering didn't lock when being driven without the engine running).
The Sardinian setting was well-evoked.
I do recommend reading the Zen series in order, especially the first three, where character development builds.
Miki Jacobs
Mar 24, 2017 Miki Jacobs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zen is sent to Sardinia to try a shift the blame for a murder to someone more appropriate in certain politicians eyes. A good insight into the corruptness of the Italian judicial system.
Joyce Lagow
Vendetta[return]Michael Dibdin[return][return]Second in the Aurelio Zen series. [return][return]Zen is in Rome, working on a report of the bizarre murder of a wealthy Italian construction firm owner who, along with his wife and two guests were gunned down in his supposedly impregnable Sardinian villa. A suspect has been arrested; Zen s job is to write a summary report.[return][return]But there are political ramifications to the suspect s arrest. Zen receives a summons to the headquarters of a pa ...more
Alison C
Mar 04, 2015 Alison C rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Vendetta is the second novel in Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series. Once again the transplanted Venetian is sent from Rome to a remote corner of Italy, in this case Sardinia. A wealthy construction magnate and his wife and guests have been brutally murdered at his ostentatious (and hyper-secure) villa, a massacre that was caught by one of the ubiquitous camera that his security team had set all over the property; yet the perpetrator managed to remain out of camera sight throughout the event. A ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in November 1999.

The case at the centre of the Aurelio Zen novel Vendetta is quite a baffling one, a close relative of the locked room mystery. Rich business tycoon Burolo had a spectacular villa built in Sardinia, using the latest in electronic surveillance and deterrence - as well as a pair of lions bought from a struggling safari park - to keep out unwelcome visitors. An obsessive film maker, his huge cellars are used to store thousands of video tapes reco
May 09, 2014 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zen has been reinstated in the Criminal Investigation Branch due to his success (and discretion)in the matter of the kidnapping and murder of Ruggiero Miletti. His superiors think he is the obvious choice to perform a similarly discreet job in the wilds of Sardinia where a wealthy contractor, his wife and guests have been shotgunned to death in his impregnable (highly fortified with barriers, monitors, armed guards and lions) and isolated estate. The killing is on videotape due to the dead man's ...more
The city's starlings were in the grip of the madness that seizes them at the changing of the light, turning the trees into loudspeakers broadcasting their gibberish, then swarming up out of the foliage to circle about in the dusky air like scraps of windborne rubbish.

Zen walked straight out into the vehicles converging on the piazza from every direction. Maybe that was where the starlings got the idea, he thought. Maybe their frenzied swarming was just an attempt to imitate the behaviour patter
Peter Auber
Jun 16, 2014 Peter Auber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 14, 2013 Alexander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hated the TV series with a vengeance, so it was only the appearance of one of the original books in a cheapo shop that persuaded me to part with a hard earned pound, but it was certainly worth it. The book is so much more than the television programme, with a depth to the characters that was completely lost on the small screen.

It really was one of those books you hate to put down, with the bus journey into work flashing by, as you became lost in the characters and the plot. I don't think I lo
Aug 28, 2011 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Second in the Aurelio Zen Italian policeman mystery series. Following his success in the first novel, Zen has been promoted and assigned a case involving the murder of a Sardinian millionaire and three others in a supposed break in proof home. The powers that be think that Zen's success in the previous case was because he was able to fix evidence and manipulate people to "solve" the case. They want him again to do the same here so that the person who is arrested for the murder can be set free be ...more
Nov 16, 2015 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would give this 4.5 stars, but because there were no huge flaws in this book, I'll round up to 5.

I find this series refreshing as Zen has to deal with the bureaucracy and politics within the Italian police force. It reminds me of my parent's experience with her trip to Italy in the 70s. When a bus full of tourists pulled up to a restaurant and the workers didn't feel like dealing with a crowd, they would say they were on strike.

The character development of Zen is well done and I appreciate tha
Ryan James
Jan 02, 2013 Ryan James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: michael-dibdin
You know how you sometimes get a book by accident, read it and then wonder why you had never heard of the author or book before? This happened with us when we were in Otavalo, Ecuador. Ron found this book on the shelf of book exchanges at our hotel.

Wow! The story takes place in Italy, primarily Rome. Being familiar with Rome, some of the places were known to us. The writing is tight. Dibdin had a way of building imagery without overusing adjectives. You definitely get visuals throughout.

You may
Temple Dog
This book was curious because I had already seen the BBC TV series. So, I spent most of the novel comparing the cinematic version to the literary version.

Dibdin is nothing if not loquacious and brevity would have been greatly appreciated.

This is the 2nd book I have read and I do see subtle enhancements in Dibdin's literary prose. He's added flourishes which to an Italophile who wants to delve into Italian colloquial culture will be a wonderful respite.

But, honestly and sadly, I found the cinema
Feb 09, 2012 Jocelyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Aurelio Zen is such an interesting cop. Sometimes he works smart; sometimes he really blows it. And, just to complicate things, it's a corrupt system, so his superiors are usually managing the outcome. Often, then, it doesn't really matter what he does, since he can't control the results. He just rides the wave, hoping to make enough smart decisions and be lucky at the right time.

Oh, yeah, this is a classic locked room mystery. In this case the locked room is a massive villa with an elaborate se
Dan Weisshaar
Aug 16, 2012 Dan Weisshaar rated it really liked it
Mystery/Crime novel, 2nd of a series. If you're old enough to remember The Rockford Files, Aurelio Zen is that kind of character, if much more stylish: competent, practical, somewhat altruistic, disheveled, but not overly so of either. This is a complicated character, complete with flaws and has been a pleasure to get to understand.

Zen is sent to Sardinia to nail down a slam dunk case which his shadowy superiors insist must politically go away; the reality, of course, is ridiculously more compl
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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)
  • 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)
  • End Games (Aurelio Zen, #11)

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