Alan's Reviews > Dead Lagoon

Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin
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's review
Aug 23, 08

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Read in August, 2008

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-minded and prejudiced but I can never quite respect the intelligence of a protagonist determined to kill himself with cigarettes. We never quite see in these series the hero ending up in the cancer ward -- but that's where he's going. Before he gets there though, he will repeatedly make a fool of himself and make himself and everyone around him quite unhappy.
The one sex scene he indulges in is a serious embarrassment.
The plot is another weakness of this book. There are actually many different sub-plots, tied a little awkwardly together, but I never got very involved in any of them. There didn't seem very much at stake in this gloomy walk around the city. I quite enjoyed the scenery but ultimately didn't really understand what had happened, why and why I should care very much.

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