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Dirty Tricks

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  419 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Karen and I on the sofa, Karen and I in the back seat of the BMW, Karen and I at the river, up the alley, down the garden, round the corner, in the pub. Our movements are furtive, frantic and compulsive. Our pleasures are brief and incomplete. Our frustrations are enormous. Because if you look closely at the background of every scene, you'll see Dennis.

Dennis and Karen lea
Published June 7th 1999 by Faber Faber (first published January 1st 1991)
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Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clever stuff, very funny. The book takes the form of a long statement to the court as a polished, well-educated cad explains how through no fault of his own he came to be accused of two murders and assorted mayhem. Set in and around Oxford, there's a lot of close observation of class and climbing, which would be entertaining enough on its own, but the book is both tightly plotted and well-wrought on a sentence level, and the ongoing revelation of the narrator's self-serving nature is as delightf ...more
Una Tiers
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book has some clever attributes and some overly bawdy parts. The story line is different and clever.
Simon Mcleish
Apr 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Originally published on my blog here in January 1999.

I'm in two minds about Dirty Tricks. On the one hand, it is excellently written and occasionally very funny. On the other, the character of the narrator and the events he describes are so convincingly unpleasant that I found it difficult to bring myself to read more than a few pages at a time, and am distinctly dubious about whether I would want to read other books by Dibdin.

The scenario is that the book is basically a transcription of an addr
Feb 14, 2014 added it
This was my first Dibden novel (I chose a stand-alone, not the first Aurelio Zen, since I didn't want to commit to another series right now), but it certainly won't be my last. DIRTY TRICKS comes across like some bizarre combination of Graham Greene and Roald Dahl, with a few splashes of mid-'80's Martin Amis (brutal class satire) and Vladimir Nabokov (delightful verbal play--of course, that's Amis too) thrown in for extra zest. Fans of traditional "pulp fiction" may not like this novel, because ...more
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This novel reminded me very much of Nabokov's "Lolita," not because there's any pedophilia in Dibdin's "Dirty Tricks" (there isn't), but because its narrator, like Nabokov's Humbert Humbert, is so cruel and humorous, simultaneously witty and sadistic. In other words, this novel, much like "Lolita," starts out pleasantly enough, a social satire, on the lines of the Way We Live Now, as told by a man on trial for murder (which may or may not be justifiable homicide), and quickly turns into a nightm ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Hilarious and sad and, yes, very, very clever. RIP Margaret Thatcher.
Tom Steer
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyably wicked, for a crime story set in Oxford it couldn’t be FURTHER from an Inspector Morse novel. Dastardly deeds and plots unravel as the narrator struggles to stay ahead of his own Machiavellian game. Good, dirty fun.
Richard Beasley
Oct 07, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An enormously clever book with some very beautifully drawn characters. The protagonist is a first rate cad, adventurer, opportunist, shameless and cynical exploiter of women. He has a contempt for the English upper middle class, their mediocre Readers Digest minds, their snobbish aspirations and the like. However, this doesn't stop him from wanting to have what they have.
He is prepared to use his skills in flattery and seduction to gain advantage. Having a lack of genuine feeling is no barrier t
Roderick Hart
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Though this first person narrative does contain some crime it is essentially a satire on Oxford society at the time it was written (round about 1990) and takes the form of a farce. There are numerous barbed shafts and a great deal of wit. The narrator is not a likeable person, but he is observant and claims he is trying to be honest, though as with any first person narrative we would expect him to be least honest about himself and his motives.

He is given to dispensing judgements on others, whic
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
DIRTY TRICKS. (1991). Michael Dibdin. ****.
This is not an Aurelio Zen novel by this author, but a stand alone book that is full of crime and surprises. Dibdin has a sly sense of humor, much of it on the blue side. In this case, we have a mixture of an over-sexed wife who is not being served by her husband, the presence of a great deal of insurance money, and a rogue who is interested in both. Although the killings are not true murders, one can still profit by them. This is a light-hearted romp t
Margaret1358 Joyce
Sep 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Despite the cleverness of the writing, the structure, plot and the use of language, the content was not pleasant, and the humor, though present, was not enough to balance out the unsavory tone. Granted, this was intended as a satire on conventional mores, but that said, the end is no justification of the means.
Nevertheless, I did finish reading it, something I wouldn't have done had the bk been without merit. It did have merit: the astute observations of the rampant prevalence of self-serving
Priyanka Mukherjee
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic little book. This is my very first Dibdin, and I'm floored by both his style and his narrative, as well as his amazing vocabulary. The things that happen over the course of the book are both dirty as well as immensely enjoyable, and I greatly enjoy intelligent protagonists caught up in a world of mediocre, sub-par characters. Witty, sarcastic, brilliantly plotted and just enough twists and turns to keep the flow highly interesting. Certainly not for those on moral high horses.
I'm goin
Libby Smith
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
So disappointed with this book. I have always enjoyed Dibdin's writing in the Aurelio Zen series and was looking forward to this book, but found it so unreadable that I couldn't finish it. The Zen series have humour and sharply observed characters, and Zen's cynical view of the world and his attempts to navigate the complexity of the Italian beurocracy are a joy. The first person recount of the sordid story didn't work for me, maybe because the character was so unlikeable and shallow. Just a ble ...more
Jun 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: quit-reading
I can't seem to put less than one star and since I didn't get past page 37, I shouldn't have to rate it at all. From the first page, I disliked the narrator. And on page 37 there was a sentence so vulgar that I just tossed the book on the floor and said "the hell with this". I am NOT a prude and cuss like a sailor, but the combination just turned me off. At the ripe old age of 55, I finally allowed myself the freedom to just stop reading a book I plain didn't like.
Jul 13, 2016 marked it as to-read
* 1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list: Crime

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time.
May 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb, I raced through this comedy/thriller in a couple of days. Very sharp, funny with some involuntary laugh-out-loud in-public descriptions. Spot on with his nouveau-rich Thatcher loving twats characters.
Bev if you manage to get hold of the Martin Clunes adaptation I'd certainly want a look. I could imagine Harry Enfield doing a good Dennis. Arf!
Steven D
Apr 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Fun book, last read this about twenty years ago. Its nice to visit an old friend again.

It's mainly a commentary on the comedy of class and behavior with classes in the UK. There's some fun parodies of Inspector Morse etc in there too.

The narrator is wonderfully untrustworthy. There are times when you feel you want to believe him and then his behavior escalates once more.

Dana Jennings
Haven't read a Dibdin novel is some time and must have forgotten how "English" his writing is. There were any number of words and references that would have been edited if the intent was to broaden its appeal across the pond. Cunning ending!
Susan Banks
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
It was rather un-nerving to find that I have things in common with a really nasty unreliable narrator.
Clever writing but I cringe at certain graphic sex/violence passages, otherwise I would have given it more stars.
I would read it again for the humour.
Jun 29, 2008 rated it liked it
An absorbing plot, but no sympathetic characters. Also, I felt by being untrained in British humour, I missed ninety percent of the wit. Someone should write a book about farting or people falling down or people falling down and farting when they hit the ground.
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cleverly written mystery/thriller -- the first I have read by this author. Comments on men and women and their relationships with each other were often hilarious. A lot of graphic sex, so if that turns you off, forget about this one. If not, the sex was also cleverly written...
Barbara Lipkin
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I adore the Aurelio Zen series but find his other books sometimes difficult. These characters were so unlikeable that I couldn't wait for it to be over. I would have stopped reading it but was encouraged by some of the reviews.
Louis Moresi
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Agony to read ! Very clever writing as usual but it's hard to read something from the perspective of such a sociopathic character. I couldn't stop reading ... A few pages at a time but then it was too much.

Dennis Fischman
Mar 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
As funny as Grahame Greene in his humorous moods, and as sinister as Donald Westlake when he's being gruesome. Add in a big dollop of social satire about Britain in the Thatcher era, and I chortled my way through this book--except for the moments when I was well and truly horrified.
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Genuinely tricky. Perfect for those who read Agatha Christie early in life.
LuAnn Kinsey
Sep 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Not a fan of Mr Dibdin - too dark, his protagonist is just plain nasty!
Jan 05, 2012 rated it liked it
This twisted and wickedly funny little crime novel took just a couple of days to read. It was a guilty pleasure that made me laugh out loud quite a few times.
Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime
entertaining, funny, and completely unlike his 'Zen' stories
Sep 01, 2013 added it
Shelves: dibdin-michael
No Zen
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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
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