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Medusa (Aurelio Zen #9)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  662 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
After a decomposed body is discovered in an abandoned military tunnel, Inspector Aurelio Zen travels north to the Italian Alps to investigate. At first glance, the death appears to have been an accident. But when Zen takes a closer look, a mysterious tattoo begins to tell a much more sinister tale, especially after the body is snatched from the morgue. As Zen races to disc ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 8th 2005 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published January 1st 2003)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 29, 2011 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Because of the untimely, much too early, death of Michael Dibdin we are left with only eleven Aurelio Zen mysteries. I know subsconsciously I have been pacing myself, savoring each one with the knowledge that ever time I read one I get closer to the end. Masterpiece Theater has in their infinite wisdom taken the first three books and made excellent renditions for television that inspired me to pull Medusa off the shelf. Casting Rufus Sewell was brilliant. He captures the essence of the Aurelio Z ...more
It seems to me that in general one expects living authors to run out of words before breath – entirely unreasonable, I know, but there it is. Dibdin died too early, making this an unexpected treat, an Aurelio Zen I thought I’d read but hadn’t, I realised leafing through it in a bookshop in Australia....

Jan 31, 2012 rabbitprincess rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Zen fans
Shelves: bibliotheque, 2012
This was a real treat and somewhat of a relief because I'd tried reading the fourth installment in the Aurelio Zen series, Dead Lagoon, and was worried that I'd already read all the good books. Not to worry: this is a great entry in the series, exactly what I want out of a Zen book.

The mystery is intriguing -- a body is found in a disused military tunnel and is believed to have been there for about 30 years. Is it an accident? One may think so, but the disappearance of the body from the morgue,
John Marsh
Jan 15, 2016 John Marsh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 10, 2014 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zen is traveling all over northern Italy (Milan, Lugano, the Marche and a cave under the Dolomites for openers) to find out what happened to a dead body discovered by Austrian cavers 30 years after the presumed victim was declared dead in a plane crash.

The only initial clue to his identity is a tattoo of Medusa on his arm. When the body and all the records pertaining to it disappear, it becomes apparent to Zen that someone fairly far up the food chain has a nasty secret that needs to be kept at
Aurelio Zen is sent to quietly investigate an unidentified body found by Austrian cavers while they explored abandoned military tunnels in the Italian Alps. Some powerful people seem to know who this is as the body is taken from the morgue and Zen's home is being bugged.

Wonderful read, great series. So sad to finish this series as there will be no more given the author died in 2007.

- Moment of silence -
False Millennium
Within the past few years I discovered the (deceased) author Michael Dibdin and fell in love with his writing style. Since he has passed on, there were a set number of books I would be reading, and I've read the bulk, with about 4-5 more to go. This was part of his police detective Aurelio Zen series. For whatever reason, his writing style changes with the Zen books and becomes--more Italian? I've always found them to be a bit of a slog at times and this was no different. An age old cover up of ...more
Jan 20, 2011 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy, read-in-2011
Not too bad. I'm finding the Zen stories a little far-fetched and the characterisation somewhat lacking. Dibdin tends to go off on discursive tangents and is often verbose about things that don't advance the plot. On the other hand, he really hasn't achieved a fully formed character in Aurelio Zen. I prefer Donna Leon's Venetian detective, Brunetti, or the Sicilian Inspector Montalbano.
My friend Tom has been trying to get me to read Dibdin for some time. So, the fact that I am on vacation, that Tom is here and he finished this mystery and handed it to me, might have something to do with why I read this book. I don't particularly like starting mystery series in the middle, but I made an exception.

If this novel is any indication, this series is as good as my friend claims. There was one time that I felt like I was smarter than the characters, but that did not last once Zen enter
Michael Bell
Nov 22, 2014 Michael Bell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting read. The mystery involved a body that was discovered in a cave. It had been there for at least twenty five years. Many of the actors involved had gone on with their lives and the discovery opened some wounds that were interlaced with powerful secrets. A son's unanswered questions from a father who was not supposed to be his. A military connection to a shadowy group. The title provides the basis for the identifying mark on the body and the Italian language in the novel ma ...more
Jun 26, 2011 Mitch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, kindle, italy
I know I said And Then You Die was my favorite Zen novel, but then I hadn't read Medusa at the time. After a rather psychological outing, Dibdin roars back with a conspiracy story, with the clock ticking away while Zen puts together the pieces. The featured geography this time is the Alto-Adige, the heavily Germanic former Austrian region in northern Italy (although we travel a fair bit over the course of the book). Zen feels like a real detective in this one -- something that hasn't seemed the ...more
Oct 06, 2011 Kissmekate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In einem Südtiroler Alpentunnel aus dem 1. Weltkrieg finden Bergsteiger einen Toten. Zuerst denken sie an einen Kletterunfall, doch einige Indizien sprechen dagegen. Aurelio Zen wird von seinem neuen Chef beauftragt, die Todesumstände zu klären, stößt vor Ort allerdings bei den Behörden auf wenig Kooperation, egal, ob es darum geht, Unterlagen bereitzustellen oder Zen einen Blick auf das Todesopfer zu gewähren. Die Identität des Toten lässt sich zwar zweifelsfrei feststellen, wirft aber gleichze ...more
Blair McDowell
Feb 09, 2015 Blair McDowell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Dibdin wrote six books featuring Detective Aurelio Zen, A Rome policeman. His main character is portrayed as flawed and human, buffeted by the often conflicting demands of his superior officer and the Minister of Justice. He walks a narrow line between the two, somehow remaining reasonable honest and reasonably effective, not always intentionally. He is a very likable character.

Medusa is my favorite among these books. The plot is convoluted and has as many twists and turns as the snakes on Medus
Roderick Hart
Aug 16, 2011 Roderick Hart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book features Dibdin’s detective, Aurelio Zen, who hails originally from Venice though he now works from Rome. His boss asks him to look over a number of files and select one for investigation. The one he chooses turns out to be more complicated than expected. A body is discovered underground by cavers, but it proves to be the remains of an army officer who, according to the military, had died in a plane crash. Since this cannot have been true, something strange is going on. The security po ...more
Aug 01, 2015 Miriam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"An oily fog had mystified the streets...." So begins a wonderfully written, but very low-key mystery that led where you do not suspect but, nonetheless, follows logically. Along the way we learn a little Italian, some regional history, and are introduced to the sordidness that is modern(?)Italian politics. I'm looking forward to reading another tale about Inspector Nez.
Patrick Sherriff
Nov 09, 2014 Patrick Sherriff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-and-such
A good whodunnit with an ingenious plot that allows us glimpses of Berlusconi's noughties Italy contrasted with the Italy of the 1970s. This was my first Dibdin, so I maybe unfairly found myself comparing him to Donna Leon, whose Venetian detective Brunetti covers much the same ground. Dibdin is more plot-focussed, with tighter control of language than Leon, though at the expense of characterisation of the protagonist. I can still recall the tight circle of family and colleagues around Brunetti, ...more
Sep 11, 2016 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very well written book, but I had difficulty getting into it. I think that I probably am missing something because I have not read any of the Aurelia Zen books before. Also, the book is full of Italian politics, which is a bit obscure. By the end of the book, I was enjoying it, however. and would read more books from the series.
Oct 15, 2012 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was introduced to Italian, born in Venice, police detective Aurelio Zen via Masterpiece Mystery. Each book in the series seems to include an indictment of the Italian political process and how Zen deals with and survives it. I was not particularly enthralled with the story that proceeds this one because Zen's survival seemed to stretch the laws of probability too far. However, I enjoyed this well told story with its interesting twists and turns involving murders, old and new, a cuckold, milita ...more
Jun 16, 2008 Guy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Dibdin - Medusa (1994). Negende deel van de Aurelio Zen-reeks en voor de zoveelste keer een genadeloze aanval op het laagje beschavingsvernis op de Italiaanse maatschappij. Deze keer draait het allemaal om een doofpotoperatie die op gang werd gebracht door de vondst van een lijk in een bergschacht. Militaire-, overheids- en politiediensten willen zich allemaal met de zaak moeien om te vermijden dat de waarheid over de zaak aan het licht komt, een waarheid die Zen probeert te achterhalen ...more
Sirin Nabokov
Zen corrects the past

One of Dibdin's better Zen novels...or could it be that I enjoy them the more of them I read? Either way the entire series is worth reading if you love Italy, detective novels or stories about adults who have a past.
Nov 10, 2013 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zen has extricated himself from his previous difficulties and seems to be happily settled with the lady he met during his previous case. Here he goes on the trail of a possible murder in the past, seemingly a straightforward and not particularly significant case until he finds his routine enquiries thwarted at an official level of some sort (military intelligence and the different branches of the Italian police seemingly don't necessarily cooperate with each other). There is a race against time ...more
Robin Kuritzky
Feb 11, 2016 Robin Kuritzky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an enjoyable read. Firstly a 'policier' ['giallo', 'policiaco'] without excructating blood, gore and pain. Clever, urbane, and ver Italian. And the best thing is there are many more...
Bryan Murphy
Jan 03, 2016 Bryan Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this, even the second time around. Dibdin lights up the crime genre as he goes beyond it. His characterisation is excellent, and his greatest character is Italy, my adopted home.
Dennis Fischman
Dibdin is among the best stylists in the mystery genre. He conjures up landscapes, both geological and political, with a few well-chosen words. In this book, Inspector Aurelio Zen is investigating a murder that might not be a murder--except that the military police are so eager to cover it up. He ends up finding out a great deal about right-wing and neo-Fascist plots in Italy (all of which fit what we know about the secret police SISMI and the public tyrant Berlusconi). He also learns some dark ...more
Sep 13, 2013 M.R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zen is the fish supposedly out of water again, but as usual, his wits serve him well in a story far removed from Rome and his previous cases. This one is darker, more disturbing somehow. Conspiracies, a disappearing body and deadly military history make for dangerous challenges. Will our hero solve the case? C'mon, what do you think? Another meaty, enjoyable episode with our favorite unwillingly maverick detective with the impeccable sense of sprezzatura. This is one book I wish had been turned ...more
Richard Rogers jr
Feb 01, 2013 Richard Rogers jr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Didbin's Aurelio Zen mysteries are almost all great. Superb if you are an Italophile as each book takes place in a different part of Italy. Naples Sardinia Rome Venice they're all here and wonderfully evoked. And Zen is a great detective working in and around the bureaucratic and highly political national police, and somehow coming out of his cases with his life and position intact. Very clever and well written books. This one is set in northern Italy on the Swiss border, and so the loca ...more
Kirsten Feldman
If you are going to read one of these, read Dead Lagoon, so excellent.
Anita Edwards
Read this because I liked the PBS version so much and found myself slightly disappointed. The story was definitely compelling, and like others I appreciated Dibin's talent for making you feel like you're in Italy & facing a maze of corruption. The detractor for me was that I found the quality of the writing mediocre. It got better as he went along and if this is really the first Aurelio Zen novel, I'll grant that it may simply have taken a while for Dibdin to hit his stride.
I would read ano
Jun 14, 2012 Sheila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zen deals effortlessly with batty dangerous old men defending an old secret.
As ever, he travels to different parts of Italy and gives a good flavour of some regional differences, and the rivalry between 'the Ministry' and the carabiniere.
Ishould have read this before Back to Bologna, as one of the characters in Medusa is more significant in Back to Bologna, but the two book are complete in themselves and it doesn't really matter reading them out of order.
Harry Lane
Jan 29, 2011 Harry Lane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how accurate Michael Dibdin's portrayal of Italian culture and politics is, but if even close it is far, far different from what we are accustomed to. His protagonist, a police officer, is forced to conduct his investigations in a milieu of corruption and criminality. The plot moves along briskly, if not always straightforwardly. Characters are well drawn, and the settings are rendered nicely.
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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)
  • Back to Bologna (Aurelio Zen, #10)
  • End Games (Aurelio Zen, #11)

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