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Dead Lagoon (Aurelio Zen, #4)
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Dead Lagoon (Aurelio Zen #4)

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,512 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
Among the emerging generation of crime writers, none is as stylish and intelligent as Michael Dibdin, who, in Dead Lagoon, gives us a deliciously creepy new novel featuring the urbane and skeptical Aurelio Zen, a detective whose unenviable task it is to combat crime in a country where today's superiors may be tomorrow's defendants.Zen returns to his native Venice. He is se ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 3rd 1996 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1994)
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Jun 29, 2016 Antigone rated it liked it
When he awoke again the room was filled with an astringent brilliance which made him blink, an abrasive slapping of wavelets and the edgy scent which had surprised him the moment he stepped out of the train. He had forgotten even the most obvious things about the place, like the pervasive risky odour of the sea.

Detective Aurelio Zen, possessed of pockets too empty to afford his expensive new mistress, has picked up a little sidework requiring a return to his native Venice. The family of a missin
Sep 23, 2007 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of police literature, europhiles and Venice fans
I read this again recently, while mourning Dibden's untimely death. It really is one of his best; the story is complex, sometimes stultifying, full of corruption, age and complexity and yet, under it all, a human being with human frailties trying to run away from his problems - something most people can relate to.

Venice comes off badly - her politicians are venal, her police incompetent, her streets filty, and yet anybody who reads this book will want to visit!

Aurelio Zen doesn't do well either
Apr 17, 2009 Kathy rated it liked it
At first I was entranced! An intriguing mystery, some excellent figurative language, and even an unusual setting: Venice, Italy. Then, despite the fact that I'd already gotten pulled into this world, I felt myself starting to say "Enough already with the description of the unique aspects of the city" It seemed Dibdin got himself so snared up in that that he forgot to develop his plot! One section where the hero was chasing his old friend through Venice seemed completely gratuitous, as did much ...more
Aug 05, 2011 Brynna rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
Interesting and frustrating. The story is a little loose, a little unstructured for my taste. The crazy lady is the best character.
I really despised Aurelio Zen by the end of this book, but fortunately I got the feeling that he despised himself at the end of this book. This is the only one I've read and it is unusual because it's set in Venice (Zen's hometown). There's a lot of the 'prophet without honor in his hometown' feel to this one, but I can't help feeling that Aurelio's asking, begging
Jun 20, 2009 Eric_W rated it really liked it
Michael Dibdin’s Dead Lagoon is novel. For one thing, it takes place in Venice and immerses the reader in a culture very different from our own. Secondly, its hero, Aurelio Zen, is not your ordinary cop. He’s a member of the Criminalpol, Italy’s elite investigative unit. The country is a quagmire of corruption and political intrigue. Zen, normally based in Rome, finds an excuse to look into the case of an old family friend who claims to having been attacked by mysterious apparitions. His real ...more
Ann Repetto
couldn't get into - don't think I'll read more in this series.
Schuyler Wallace
Feb 24, 2014 Schuyler Wallace rated it really liked it
It’s taken over 15 centuries for humans to build up and subsequently cause the demise of Venice. Its remaining life is short. Although current residents struggle to preserve its historic buildings and waterways from the ravages of erosion, pollution, and water quality, the magnificence that once surrounded the Venetians is disintegrating. Michael Dibdin uses this world of foul water and crumbling infrastructure as backdrop for his eerie crime novel “Dead Lagoon.”

Aurelio Zen, an intrepid Italian
Roderick Hart
Jan 21, 2012 Roderick Hart rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 11, 2014 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zen proves that you can't go home again when his return to Venice goes wrong in several different ways. He needs money to find a larger place so that he, his mother and Tania can live together. Or at least that's the plan. He has an opportunity to take on a private project, working on behalf of the family of a wealthy American who disappeared from his Venice home months age. The family wants to know if he is living or dead and what happened.

In order to take on this job, Zen needs a genuine Vene
Alison C
Mar 13, 2015 Alison C rated it liked it
Dead Lagoon is the fourth in the Aurelio Zen series by Michael Dibdin; this time, Zen is seconded to his home city of Venice, ostensibly to look into the apparent harassment of a somewhat demented contessa who is being plagued by ghosts, but really because he has been hired by the family of an American millionaire who went missing while living in Venice. The city of his childhood and youth is both familiar and utterly strange to him now, but his essential Venetian soul soon reorients him to his ...more
Mary Josefina Cade
Aug 18, 2015 Mary Josefina Cade rated it it was amazing
Aurelio Zen, his name is a poem. As depicted in Michael Dibdin’s series, Zen is a tortured perfectionist in search of justice. Elusive justice. His thin figure twists through a corrupt system seeking balance, but rarely finding it. Occasionally this happens unexpectedly, as a by product of his often heroic efforts. Zen puts maximum effort into his work, he is obsessed with truth, a truth that nearly always turns out to be painful.

So, this is NOT a cosy detective series. ‘Dead Lagoon’ the fourth
Aug 23, 2008 Alan rated it liked it
This procedural features the gloomy Italian detective Aurelio Zen returning to his home town of Venice. The strength of the book is the atmosphere with misty rain falling on the canals and the pungent smell of the city acting as a metaphor for the story the author tells. Venice itself becomes the most convincing character in the book -- mysterious, slippery, elusive, worldly, never quite what it seems and rotten to the core.
Zen himself chain-smokes his way through the book. Call me small-mind
Oct 26, 2012 Annabelle rated it really liked it
Watching Aurelio Zen move around Rome on PBS’s mystery series prompted me to read Dibdin. I have to say the book character is not as sexy as the TV guy, but he is still a complex detective that captures the reader’s interest. What makes him unique is he isn’t the rebellious anit-hero, but he is more nuanced by keeping his integrity and moving in gray areas of Italian power players to solve crimes and simultaneously insulate himself from retribution. In this mystery, he is secretively hired by ...more
Police inspector Aurelio Zen returns to his hometown of Venice to investigate a closed case as a favor for his American former girlfriend--and with the hope of a little personal financial gain for his efforts. But he has to conduct this investigation without the Venice police knowing what he is doing. To conceal this side investigation, he picks a case no one really wants or believes can be solved. But his time in Venice gets tangled with family history, old relationships and local politics. Zen ...more
Basil D
Mar 06, 2016 Basil D rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 15, 2014 Jemina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dibdinin kirjassaan kuvaama Venetsia on kaukana postikortista. Kylmyyttä hohkava talvinen, sumuinen kaupunki luo todentuntuisen kulissin tarinalle, joka on Aurelio Zen -sarjan teoksista kyynisin ja luotaantyöntävin, mutta samalla tyylikkäästi koukuttava.

Aurelio Zen palaa lapsuutensa kaupunkiin ja pyrkii elämään, kuten 90-luvun järkevän italialaispoliisin kuuluu: olla puuttumatta rikoksiin, jottei aiheuttaisi itselleen ongelmia. Oman suvun luurangot kolisevat kuitenkin kaapissa siihen malliin, et
Bruno Bouchet
Aug 02, 2011 Bruno Bouchet rated it liked it
I haven’t really read much crime fiction so I don’t have a lot to compare this book to, but I did enjoy it. I came to Aurelio Zen from the recent BBC TV series. I enjoy crime on TV so I thought I might as well try it in book form. Apparently the Zen in the books is supposed to be more old and crumpled than Rufus Sewell on TV, but I imagined him as I read and it certainly fitted the text. I got a bit confused trying to remember all the different Italian names but overall that didn’t spoil my ...more
Dec 16, 2012 Marilyn rated it liked it
It is difficult to write about this book. On one hand, I enjoyed the complexity of the plot and the setting in Venice. There was a flavor to it that transported the reader and gave insight into the workings of systems in that country. However (and it is a big however), I got tired of the main character. It is "the thing" these days to have a flawed main character -- however, those flaws often contribute to his "style" and even aid in the solving of a crime or the way he/she approaches a puzzle. ...more
Dec 13, 2011 Kili rated it really liked it
This takes place in the same Venice of Leon's Brunetti, but what a difference! Dibdin's description of the post mani puliti Italy is as bleak as a foggy winter night in Aresnale.

I've never read Dibdin's books before: he's got the gift for this genre. For example:

Anxious to dispel this paralyzing sense of hopelessness, Zen dressed rapidly and set out for the Questura on foot without even pausing to broach the packet of coffee he had bought the day before. The day was established by now, but the l
May 04, 2011 Reenie rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Rather enjoyable. I really liked the skillfully painted picture of a modern, decaying Venice, conflicted about its glorious past and current status as tourist trap, outside of the political centers of the unified Italy. And Aurelio Zen is a good reminder that a hard-boiled noir-style detective, middle-aged and alone, doesn't have to be tragic and sympathetic (a heroic anti-hero). He might just be a not particularly nice person, without too many social skills, or too much concern for how his ...more
Elisha Condie
Aug 12, 2014 Elisha Condie rated it did not like it
This is not the same Zen I saw on PBS played by the weirdly handsome Rufus Sewell. That Zen had morals, and style, and substance. The Aurelio Zen in this book is a total jerkface.

Zen goes to Venice to solve the crime of what happened to a rich American who disappeared there. And to check up on the crazy old lady former neighbor who is having supernatural visits.

And it really stinks. Zen is mean to Tania (nice girlfriend back home), he solves some mysteries but NO ONE cares, no bad guys get t
Jul 20, 2013 Stuart rated it really liked it
I got this to read after watching the "Zen" series on PBS. (it's the fourth in the series) It's very good. While there are similarities to Donna Leon's Commodore Bruschetti, especially in the way the two detectives wander around Venice eating and drinking, this is a much meatier story. Zen is alos much more of a loner than Bruschetti. Zen is back in his home town (Venice) on what amounts to a moonlighting job, looking for clues to the disappearance of an American, who has pehaps been kidnapped. ...more
Aug 17, 2011 Doug added it
This is the series of books that the recent Masterpiece Mystery was based on. Aurelio Zen the detective is in Venice under false pretenses to investigate the disappearance of a wealthy American. For his cover he investigates the haunting of an old family friend. So both investigations take him in many directions. Zen is originally stationed in Rome so of course the whole story has an Italian background. What I find interesting in the character development nobody wins. A good deed is done but ...more
Italo Italophiles
Feb 04, 2014 Italo Italophiles rated it liked it
Michael Dibdin wrote several Aurelio Zen police procedurals set in various locations in Italy. I've read Cosi Fan Tutti and Dead Lagoon, but they didn't make me a fan of the series. It is all rather too butch and lacking in compassion for my tastes. But if that is your style, then go for it, because the books are very well written.

Aurelio Zen goes through the usual problems with his colleagues and women, in Naples and Venice, in the two books I read. Zen is taciturn and methodical throughout, an
Nash Bork
May 21, 2012 Nash Bork rated it it was amazing
Micheal Dibdin whisks Auerlio Zen to his ancestral home of Venice in the Dead Lagoon. While he helps out an old family friend fend off masked intruders, he secretly investigates the case of a missing millionaire. However, this book is really about Venice and Zen's return home. Zen encounters ghosts from his past around every corner causing him to question his place in the world. Venice seduces both Zen and the reader. Mr. Dibdin evokes the spirit and atmosphere of Venice, while exploring the ...more
Mar 14, 2014 Gary rated it liked it
Aurelio Zen returns. This time, he is doing a bit of moonlighting trying to solve the disappearance of an American millionaire, back in Zen's home town of Venice. As a cover, he has had himself assigned to another case of an elderly lady who may be imagining intruders in her home. The fact that she is a bit loony adds to the difficulties.

Again, he spends much of his time wading through the mire of politics and corruption but, as always, he is his also own worst enemy. Although Zen is interested
Nov 03, 2011 Doretta rated it liked it
It took me a while to get through this book. Like other reviewers, I came to this book from the BBC series with Rufus Sewell. I did like the realistic approach to Venice, it wasn't over-romanticized. And that is my impression of this book: Realism trumps idealism. Because of thi, I'm not sure I cared a lot about the characters in the book, even Zen. They are all very realistic, rather than idealistic. No one seems to be motivated by kind of principles. I not sure I want to read any more of the ...more
Jul 06, 2014 Tony rated it liked it
DEAD LAGOON. (1994). Michael Dibdin. ***.
This is an Aurelio Zen mystery, but Zen has taken himself off to Venice instead of sleuthing in Rome. The first third of the book is an extremely slow read. At about the time the story really got started, I was about to quit, when the pace picked up. It is still one of the slower novels – not characteristic of Dibdin’s writings. It certainly provides a picture of Venice that is very different from that that the average tourist takes away. If you are new t
Aug 07, 2008 Walker rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: The discerning reader (you, of course)
Shelves: aurelio-zen
Aurelio Zen is a Venetian, a saturnine, beaten down and hagridden investigator in the Italian National Police Department whose political and CYA skills are limited.

Women and his mother run him ragged, but he can and does solve intricate crimes and puzzles in a deft and clever manner.Others seem to get the credit, but he gets the job done.

All the books in the series are at the same high level: The Ratking; Vendetta; Blood Rain; A Long Finish; Cosi Fan Tutti;and Life's a Beach among those I've re
Dec 17, 2011 Mitch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, italy
It may be that I read Dead Lagoon out of order and several months after finishing all of the other Zen mysteries, but I think this may be the best of the series. Dibdin teases professional and personal plot lines out in the book, tying them together in ways expected and not, leaving you feeling very much like you've wandered the narrow streets, wide plazas, and dead alleys of Venice (Zen's hometown and the location of this book). Bravo. It's a shame that the BBC didn't continue their television ...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 ...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)
  • 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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