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Back to Bologna (Aurelio Zen #10)

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  547 Ratings  ·  57 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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Jun 05, 2008 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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).
Jun 29, 2011 Mitch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, kindle, italy
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
Apr 15, 2015 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Evelyn Fox
I was a bit disappointed in this book. I had seen the Masterpiece Mystery PBS series about Aurelio Zen, the Italian Police Inspector. It was very entertaining. The book, Back to Bologna, was confusing with way too many characters and plot lines. Some of the plot lines were just plain silly while
others were more serious. It's the first book I read by this author, but, I don't expect that I will read and more.
Lukasz Pruski
"King Antonio perched naked on his throne, sweating, groaning, imploring. Then his expression changed to one of alarm, almost of fear."
(At the end of the review you can learn why Antonio is groaning on his throne.)

Michael Dibdin's Back to Bologna, my seventh book in the Aurelio Zen series, is quite different from the other six: it is an expressly comedic and satirical ensemble piece type of novel, with several seemingly unrelated threads developing separately until they all intertwine at the end
Alison C
Mar 13, 2015 Alison C rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 15, 2015 Desiree rated it really liked it
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
Jul 07, 2008 Suzanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
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.
Feb 25, 2008 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 06, 2011 Kissmekate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 06, 2011 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy, read-in-2011

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
Jul 03, 2016 Martina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aurelio Zen #10. Penultimate book in the series. I set it aside because I couldn't, as with the final book, believe that there would be no more books from Michael Dibdin. At least I can read this and still have one more to go.... : { What a wonderful series and what fabulous films they made from the books. How great can a man look in an Armani suit? (I'm looking at YOU, Donna! : })

What a crazy story! I've been laughing out loud through the entire book. This plot makes fun of almost everything in
Leonardo Etcheto
Dec 20, 2009 Leonardo Etcheto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 06, 2015 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ann Tonks
Not quite is dense or intense as some of Dibdin's other Aurelio Zen novels but still a good reaad.
Barbara Lipkin
I enjoyed the humor but found the translation a little stilted & not as smooth as I recall his other books.
Mar 20, 2012 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
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
Sep 13, 2013 M.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 27, 2013 Louis Moresi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ad Blankestijn
Apr 13, 2016 Ad Blankestijn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, food
Light reading while hanging in the air on my way back from London. Set in Bologna and about an Italian police inspector but written by an Englishman. A pastiche of the crime novel with as farcical highlights a cooking contest with a famous TV cook who is a complete hoax (lampooning fluffy Italian TV shows) and the shooting of a semiotics professor who is rather too obviously based on Umberto Eco. But what do you want, with a detective called "Zen?"
Anita Edwards
Mar 26, 2012 Anita Edwards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 14, 2015 Sirin Nabokov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 09, 2012 Sheila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
May 08, 2009 Guy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
Jul 11, 2013 Trent rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 07, 2013 Barry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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:
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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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