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Ratking (Aurelio Zen, #1)
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Ratking (Aurelio Zen #1)

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,940 ratings  ·  183 reviews
In this masterpiece of psychological suspense, Italian Police Commissioner Aurelio Zen is dispatched to investigate the kidnapping of Ruggiero Miletti, a powerful Perugian industrialist. But nobody much wants Zen to succeed: not the local authorities, who view him as an interloper, and certainly not Miletti's children, who seem content to let the head of the family languis ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 29th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1988)
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Tea Jovanović
A sto je BBC dobru seriju napravio od ovoga... :) I dobar je Zen, ali ipak nije konkurencija Montalbanu... :)
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
My first encounter with Golden Dagger Award winning author Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen Series was watching PBS Masterpiece Mystery! one Sunday night. The onscreen Aurelio is somewhat younger and darker than the one in RATKING. Here we are introduced to this anti-hero and taste the late Dibdin’s irony and black humour in Zen’s persona that the telecast so aptly captures. As with new introductions, the reader isn’t sure of Zen. His opening scene shows us an indifferent policeman. Aurelio sits by ...more
Nancy Burns
Michael Dibdin has done a great job using language to make himself
a 'big fish in the little pond' of crime fiction!
The book is riddled with sparkling similes.
It is not easy to come up with a 'quirky' comparison. I counted at least 80!
Here is my short review:
The first Aurelio Zen novel as far as I am aware. A wonderful read that really does evoke Italy in some beautifully turned prose. Dibdin's plots are always carefully put together, and you are kept guessing a lot in this book. What a ratking actually is, is a wonderful metaphor for what happens in this book. This, and Cosi Fan Tutti are the best of this series.
I have no idea why anybody would compare Dibdin with Chandler: he is wordy where Chandler is minimalist, verging on sentimental where Chandler is cynical. Could two characters be more different than Zen and Marlowe? Zen who lives with his mother and isn't going to give that up for all the sex in China and - Marlowe?!

Good book. Chandler it ain't.
He seems like a good guy, I mean, he is the good guy, but when you take a step back and think about it, he's more like a fixer with no loyalty. It's all motivated by self-preservation, but in an Italy where pure corruption has replaced political motivation, not getting killed equals becoming one of them, if only a little. The dialog gets that why me/poor you Italian thing perfect and it's all very funny. Also: it is probably healthier to read books where the detectives drink too much espresso th ...more
Shane Lusher
I really wanted to give the book more than three stars. The language is great, and though it was writting in the 80s, i.e. not so long ago, I had the feeling I was taking part in an old European mystery, á la Orient Express.

The characters are also well-developed, or at least very well described, and again, the language throughout the book is refreshing considering what sometimes passes for great English crime writing nowadays.

The book is a detective novel through-and-through, and not a thriller,
Becky Hoffman
Ratking follows Dottore Aurelio Zen as he is literally pushed into the detective world once more after being a paper-pusher with the police for four years. He was shamed after a case went bad and put on desk duty indefinitely. He's put in a no win position as an officer as he tries to bring Riggerio Milleti back home. Milleti has been kidnapped and held for ransom for months while his crazy family bickers and fights over every penny that goes into the ransom money.

The book follows the inner work
I've been meaning to get into the Aurelio Zen series for a while now. Just somehow Dibdin never got to the top of the 'to read' pile. It got a meteoric rise to the top when the BBC screened adaptations of the books. I had to get to know Zen myself before I saw someone else's interpretation of him.

Zen's a Venetian living and working in Rome, sent to work on a case in Perugia. He's pretty typical of fictional detectives. There's nothing super original in the character so far. The interesting part
Mar 14, 2013 Kia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mystery readers; police procedural readers
Recommended to Kia by: NPR/PBS
Like many of the reviews on this book, I turned to this book mostly after learning there was a Masterpiece Mystery series ( coming out based on these books. And like many of the others, I find myself comparing Rufus Seawell's Zen with the character Dibdin created. That's almost always a mistake.

I can't say that I don't like Dibdin's Zen, I think I prefer the version written for Masterpiece. Dibdin's Zen is a restless man in his 50s struggling with the fa
I got this book because I really liked the show. And as it was cancelled way to early, I was hoping to get even more from the books.

I don't often say this, but the book was not better.

It's obviously unfair blaming a book because it wasn't like a TV show it has inspired, but I was just so disappointed. Gone was the fun, the witty, smart and sexy detective, the charming Italian stuff. Instead we got dark, moody, corrupt and gritty. Zen is in his 50s in the book, unsure of himself, disillusioned, a
After enjoying the recent PBS series about Aurelio Zen I decided to see what the original was like. As it turned out, the plot of the first TV show was only slightly related to the plot of the novel. "Inspired by" would almost be an exaggeration. Even Zen himself was quite different--the only thing that seemed consistent between the series and the first book was the tone, the paranoid sense of multiple levels of interest, both in the police and in the suspects, the feeling that everything in Ita ...more
This is the second Dibdin novel about detective Aurelio Zen that I have read. I think this series is OK, but prefer Donna Leon and Andrea Camilleri, whose writing is sharper.

The best thing about Zen is that he is a fresh break with so many anglo-saxon detectives with their broken marriages, drink problems and demons. While he is separated from his wife, he lives with his mother and functions as a man.

The problems he faces are very Italian, in that he is surrounded by corruption and nepotism. He
Beth J
Another Italian mystery series, this one set in Rome and, in this case, Perugia. Since we were recently in both of these places, I could envision the locations. BBC did a 3 episode series called Zen (Aurileo Zen is the detective) that I quite liked, so I decided to start the book series. Quirky writing, quirky character, and for the first half of the book I was sure it would be the last in the series that I would read. But bit by bit I caught on to the cadence of the writing, got a feel for the ...more
Christine Blachford
I watched about half of the first episode of the Zen TV series and gave up because it didn't grab me. I picked up the book in a sale and thought I would try and see if it was any better. Sadly, it didn't entertain me much more than the programme did. I read all the way to the end because I was curious about the whodunit part, but none of the characters were particularly interesting.

As a damaged detective, I thought Zen was lacking whatever it is that allows the reader in. The story read much lik
Alison C
In Ratking, by Michael Dibdin, Aurelio Zen, a disgraced Venetian police commissioner now assigned to a dreary housekeeping function in Rome, is unexpectedly sent to Perugia to take over the case of a very wealthy man who has been kidnapped and whose family is not cooperating with the police in their attempts to resolve the matter. He is thrown into this tense situation with very little information, and everybody around him either resents him for usurping their roles or has something to hide from ...more
Charles Gates
Dibdin was recommended to me when I asked a bookseller for a mystery writer with a good sense of place, like Donna Leon (for Venice) or Tony Hillerman (Navajo country). This story takes place in Perugia, and Dibdin, who taught there, certainly knows the streets, hills, and cafes, and the people, but it's not a particularly appealing or informative treatment. The tone is bleak. I have no wish to go there (in contrast with Venice or Arizona-New Mexico). So that leaves the mystery itself. The struc ...more
Interesting 1st Det Zen (Rome based Police officer) Italian based thriller, Zen is plucked from Desk job to lead hunt for Kidnapped tycoon.. start of a 11 book series featuring Zen. Some nice insight into Italian culture with some funny dialogue also. The plot & prose was OK and certainly held my interest, done enough to make me discover more of Mr Zen in rest of series..
The first Zen novel set in southern Italy. I really loved this novel although I didn't think I would and is not the usual read I would go for. It was recommended to me by my husband. The novel centres around the kidnapping and of Ruggerio Milletti and Zen is sent to secure his release almost as an excuse to demote him when the situation seems impossible. The one thing I found a delight was the character of Zen. He's quite a "worn down by life" character and not overly friendly with his contempor ...more
David Pantano
"What is a Ratking? the king rat... no. A ratking is something that happens when too many rats live in too small a space under too much pressure. Their tail becomes entwined and the more they strain and stretch to free themselves the tighter grows the knot binding them until at last it becomes a sold mass of embedded tissues. And the creature thus formed, as many as thirty rats tied together by the tail, is called a ratking."

The Ratking understood as an isolated malaise that aggregates into a p
Michael Dibdin's first ZEN mystery.
He really knows how to give the reader of sense of the corrupt culture of Italy. I have read all the books in this series, and just started over this month with his first, RATKING.

I first learned of this series from the PBS films starring Rufus Sewell, who did an excellent job portraying the somewhat passive detective who stoically bears the scorn of the Italian locals as he infiltrates as an outsider police detective. But Zen bides his time, and his instincts
Will review after I get back from Rome.

- Robert Farwell / Edward Jones library / Mesa, AZ 2014
Ratking is straight-up noir with a cool Italian atmosphere, redolent of corruption and blasé cynicism. The titular metaphor is brilliant, describing the whole setting in one pithy word. Characters lie, blackmail and go through the back door to get things done, pulling strings and cons alike. Zen, our protagonist, is distinguished from his cowboy-cop brethren mostly by his a certain Mediterranean zeal and ability to foment some plots of his own. Ratking is a slick, sleek and sardonic novel, which ...more
False Millennium
Kidnapping as culture in Italy. Power and corruption of the institution in Italy. What is a ratking? "Is it the rat king--the dominant member of a pack? No. "A ratking is something that happens when many rats have to live in too small a space under too much pressure. Their tails become entwined and the more they strain and stretch to free themselves the tighter grows the knot binding them, until at last it becomes a solid mass of embedded tissue. And the creature thus formed, as many as thirty r ...more
2011 August 8

I was inspired to reread this after watching the television series, which was a lovely travelogue and pretty good TV, but bears only a superficial resemblance to Michael Dibdin's complex stories.

At the start of Ratking, Zen has been stuck in a dead end administrative job for a decade as punishment for getting too near to the truth in his investigation of the Aldo Moro kidnapping. He is sent off to Perugia to participate in the investigation of the kidnapping of a local industrialis
In writing about this I may well be writing a review of the TV show. I don't normally read mysteries like this, but did so after Boyd Tonkin wrote that there was so much more in the books... so many more characters and characterisations from all walks of Italian life.

So I enjoyed the TV show okay - although I had a few big problems with it. One was that all the men were played by Englishmen and all the women seemed to be Italians. The same company made the excellent Wallander series with Branagh
Joyce Lagow
Commisioner Aurelio Zen, attached to the Rome offfice of the National Police force, is serving in a meaningless position thanks to his involvement in the Aldo Moro kidnapping case. But the kidnapping of the head of a prominent Perugian family takes place, and Zen, merely because of his availability, is sent to Perugia, ostensibly to head up the stalled investigation thanks to his expertise; in reality, he is only window dressing to appease powerful friends of the Maletti family.[return][return]N ...more
Roderick Hart
This is the first in the series of novels featuring Aurelio Zen, a detective from Venice who, in the course of his career, investigates crimes in many parts of Italy. Here, although he is living in Rome at the time, he is sent to Perugia to investigate the kidnapping of a rich business man, Ruggiero Miletti.

The main focus of the plot appears to be fierce internal rivalries within the Miletti family, several of whom leave almost everything to be desired. Despite many obstacles, Zen eventually fig
Apr 20, 2013 Mei rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: crime
I like this more because it is set in Italy. The writing style is a little odd at times - it almost feels like a translation, which it can't be because the writer is English - so I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have done if I had liked his style more. However, given I'm now on the third book, this hasn't stopped me and it's a pretty funny look at Italy - all the old stereotypes about backhanders and politics and how you get things done unofficially because that's far more efficient than goi ...more
This was an excellent read in Dibdin’s series of Aurelio Zen, detective in Rome but in this novel sent to Perugia, to help settle the case of a billionaire kidnapped, ransom paid, but not returned. The author is brilliant at setting the stage for the arcane workings of Italian government, where nothing is as it appears, and good things happen back handedly. The book finally gives Zen’s backstory of why he was demoted to housekeeping, after he almost found out where former Prime Minister Moro was ...more
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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)
  • 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)
  • End Games (Aurelio Zen, #11)
The Last Sherlock Holmes Story Dead Lagoon (Aurelio Zen, #4) Vendetta (Aurelio Zen, #2) Cabal (Aurelio Zen, #3) Così Fan Tutti (Aurelio Zen, #5)

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