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Back to Bologna (Aurelio Zen #10)

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  473 ratings  ·  51 reviews
In the latest installment in his critically acclaimed Italian mystery series, Michael Didbin sends Aurelio Zen to Italy’s culinary capital, Bologna, where he discovers that some cases are not quite what they appear to be.

When the corpse of the shady Bologna industrialist who owns the local football team is found both shot and stabbed with a Parmesan knife, Aurelio Zen is s
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Published September 12th 2006 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 2003)
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This is my first Dibdin experience, and while I enjoyed the mystery, Donna Leon is still my first love when it comes to Italian mystery novels. The detective in this series, Aurelio Zen, has a bit too many flaws to be a sympathetic protagonist, but the colorful descriptions of Lucca and Bologna made me want to break out the Chianti and Pesto and whip up one of Lo Chef's famous dishes (a character in the novel).
Rocketing through the Zen series, and we're almost at the end. While I enjoyed Back to Bologna, I find myself unsure whether Dibdin was bored of Zen by this point, or whether he had become so comfortable with the character that he felt free to play some writer's games. (I won't spoil it for you, but let's just say the book is pretty meta.) It will come as no surprise that the setting for this novel is Bologna, although the geography is less important in this book than key characters - a parody o ...more
Enormously funny, as the ever cynical Dibdin pokes fun at post-post modernism, overblown celebrity of several kinds, and the corrupt culture of celebrity in these various fields, while using with great humour the time honored and very convoluted device of mistaken identity, with nods to Shakespeare and others (so that we can not fail to miss them) late in the book. The use of overblown characters well illustrates the outrageous reality of these basically foolish cultures, and holds them up to mo ...more
What a cast of characters - the drug and testosterone fuelled student son of a wealthy and bad tempered attorney, his roommate, an earnest student of semiotics who is losing patience with his prima donna professor, the roommate's girlfriend, an immigrant from - she says - Ruritania who is studying Italian by reading Prisoner of Zenda over and over. Then there is the inept private eye hired by the attorney to keep track of his son, a Camel smoking, bourbon drinking wannabe Yankee. And the profes ...more
Alison C
In Michael Dibdin's Back to Bologna, series character Aurelio Zen is sent to the city of the title to keep an eye on the progress of the police in solving the murder of a wealthy man who happened to own the local, struggling soccer team and who was loathed by thousands of soccer fans for his treatment of that team. Zen is quite happy to get away from home because although he is still recovering (slowly) from recent surgery, his girlfriend Gemma thinks he's being hypochondriacal; in any case, the ...more
Marion Tucker
I always enjoy these Italian detective novels and this was no different. However I felt there were some issues that went unresolved (I can't go into too much detail in case I give away anything). One in particular was Zen's own personal relationship, however I know there is one more book to come so maybe it gets resolved there.
Utterly enjoyable book. Love the Aurelio Zen series. Zen is a kind of anti-hero who tries to keep out off trouble and do the least possible but despite that seems to always solve the crimes. S

Nice cast with a very popular TV cook who can not cook, a semiotics professor called Eduardo Ugo, clearly a parody on Umberto Eco (note the reversed initials, also Umberto Ego is sometimes nicknamed Umberto Ego...) and an Italian Private Investigator who is more American than any American gumshoe I have eve
I had a little trouble getting into this book, but once I did I enjoyed it. The writing is witty and the plot is clever. Maybe I need to start at the beginning of the Aurelio Zen series to get a full appreciation of the character.
Interesting Italian mystery in the Aurelio Zen series with some great satire on semiotics, reality TV, and people in general. Even some self-referential humor. Zen's personal life is as dysfunctional as usual.
Zwischen Aurelio Zen und seiner Gemma bahnt sich die erste Beziehungskrise an, gesundheitlich ist er auch nicht direkt auf der Höhe, und so ist er nicht allzu böse, als ihm ein aufsehenerregender Fall in Bologna übertragen wird: der Manager des Bologneser Fußballvereins, der sich als Nicht-Einheimischer keiner besonderen Beliebtheit erfreute, ist in seinem Auto ermordet worden.

Zen, der noch mit den körperlichen und psychischen Nachwehen eines chirurgischen Eingriffs zu kämpfen hat, versucht zunä

Now, here is what I think about Michael Dibdin's Zen novels.

Dibdin has created a main character who is neither credible nor likable nor interesting. He may have mitigated this problem in the early novels of the series by convoluted plotting, but eventually he ran out of ideas, or got bored, and then utilised the rather lazy smokescreen of (a) a kaleidoscope of geographical settings (all of which were ideal holiday destinations for his English readers) and (b) silly jokes and increasingly farcica
Leonardo Etcheto
Practically a farce/comic opera of a detective story, but the plot follows the workings of all the protagonists well. I enjoyed it mostly because of the great character writing and the neat operatic resolution.
It really is amazing what people can delude themselves to do - from deconstructioninst professor to singing chef.
Zen is a brilliant mainly because he is cynical, does not care and yet still solves the crime. The Bologna football club plot was brilliant, with all the ultras and their anti
Very funny with an unexpected ending. I'm still trying to figure out if it works or not, which is itself an indication of the book's quality. This is more an exploration and parody of various characters typical of detective stories than a traditional detective novel.
A solid Aurelio Zen installment. Flawed investigator Zen helps solve two murders in Bologna, but is the culprit actually guilty. After over a year of recovering from the bomb attack, Zen appears to now have become a hypochondriac. This, of course, is contributing towards the erosion of his current relationship - but when is Zen not facing challenges in that area of his life.
Loved this book for its comic overturns; building on Cosi Fan Tutti, here Dibdin does not hold back in wit and imagination. This book works well on so many levels and could be re-read several times over before all the author's subtle skills and play on words could be appreciated. More farce at times than crime fiction Zen holds his own as he reaches a mid-life crisis with no impetus to work or strive professionally or romantically. Somehow he blunders about, even falling under suspicion himself, ...more
This is one of those stories that makes you wish Aurelio Zen could find better women with whom to saddle himself. His private life is clearly infringing too much on his professional life, and yet ... is there a vague connection? You keep rooting for Zen to wake up and drop the troublesome women, but what a surprise lingers at the end. Of course you'll read this one; you read all the others, didn't you? He's a likeable guy and would be more so if only he could solve his love life as successfully ...more
Louis Moresi
I just ate my way through the entire Zen series ... My comments are more about the series - wonderfully observant of The aspect of Italy which we all enjoy (from a respectful distance) and playful with language and plot.

The mystery is not central and the resolutions are often muddled and accidental - that too is part of the attraction.

This particular book spells this out explicitly here and there. It is also relaxed and entertaining as long as you don't expect a carefully plotted thriller.
Anita Edwards
The structure might be off putting to some people (won't tell you what it is because it would be a spoiler), but I was quite happy to "go with the flow" and felt rewarded for my patience in the end. I am getting to like this author more, the more I read him. As others have noted, reading Dibdin is like takeing an Italian vacation in your mind. In this book in particular the excentric minor characters do the plot heavy lifting--something I quite enjoyed.
Sirin Nabokov
Better Zen

One of the best Zen books. Such a tragedy that Dibdin passed on and the series has come to an end. I enjoyed reading them all.
Don't be fooled into thinking this is a 'mystery' or a police procedural; this is unadulterated operatic farce, with a bumbling private detective, a singing TV chef who can't cook, an illegal immigrant from Ruritania looking for her prince, a touch of mistaken identity and wrongful arrest. Oh, and the occasional dead body. Zen threads his way through it all while struggling with his love life.
Enjoyable tosh!
Lichtvoetigste deel van de Aurelio Zen-reeks, maar daarom niet minder genietbaar. Er wordt gespeeld met zowat alle Italiaanse clichés, er zijn hopen culturele referenties, inclusief een semioticus die overduidelijk gebaseerd is op Umberto Eco en een plot en stijl die carnavalesk en een beetje onnozel zijn. Fijne commedia dell’arte of zoiets. (***1/2)
In the last year, I've read nearly all the Aurelio Zen mysteries. Have to be honest and report that this is the least good. A dramatization of Zen's having a bowel movement, intended to be humorous, was a particular low point.
Regardless, if you want to read this book, please consider buying it at an independent bookseller.
Read four chapters and found that I really disliked Dibdin's writing style. Put the book away and will not return to it nor will I read any other Dibdin book. Since Dibdin has some popularity, it seems to be a bad match between my taste and his style. I am now reading The Snowman by Jo Nesbo and am enjoying it thoroughly.
Kay Robart
The Aurelio Zen series begins as fairly traditional mysteries featuring the bemused Italian detective. Gradually, they become more and more comic. In Back to Bologna, Dibdin presents us with more of a spoof than a mystery novel.

See my complete review here:
Just lately I picked up a couple of crime fiction books, having given the genre a wide berth for a long time. I had an idea absence would have made the heart grow fonder, but it hasn't.

I can say this is far superior to the Donna Leon I read first, but that is merely to damn Dibdin with faint praise.

Very good 10th Zen novel, full of wry humour that the series is known for. Zen is in top form ending up in Bologna to keep an eye on a high profile murder case, full of celebs and some comic escapades mixed with a decent plot. This is one of the best of Zen series.
Fun but odd. I think we can assume that Dibdin wasn't a great fan of Umberto Eco! Full of post-modernist tricks, or would that be post-post-modernist? A writer's bit of fun, not really a detective story as such.
Michael Dibdin, who died last spring, was one of my favorite mystery writers. I have read all but the last book in the Aurelio Zen series; this may be my least favorite and unexciting, but it's still worth reading.
When the corpse of the shady Bologna industrialist who owns the local football team is found both shot and stabbed with a Parmesan knife you know it could be a good read. I liked this Aurelio Zen. ...more
This is my first Aurelio Zen... and though I did not hate it and it was readable... there is not even an afterthought to putting it into the Goodwill pile.

Hey, it passed the time.
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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)
  • End Games (Aurelio Zen, #11)

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