Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cosi Fan Tutti (Aurelio Zen, #5)” as Want to Read:
Cosi Fan Tutti (Aurelio Zen, #5)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cosi Fan Tutti (Aurelio Zen #5)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,111 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
An Aurelio Zen Novel

Michael Dibdin's overburdened Italian police inspector has been transferred to Naples, where the rule of law is so lax that a police station may double as a brothel. But this time, having alienated superiors with his impolitic zealousness in every previous posting, Zen is determined not to make waves.

Too bad an American sailor (who may be neither Americ
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published (first published 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cosi Fan Tutti, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cosi Fan Tutti

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
In this, the fifth installment of the Aurelio Zen mysteries, Michael Dibdin tries his hand at farce.

Criminapol's Detective Zen has put in for a transfer to Naples, taking a demotion a hair's breath before his superiors can inflict one upon him. In a city known for its rampant corruption (there's a working brothel on the top floor of the police station), Zen plans to keep his head down, his nose clean, and his days free of intrigue. He makes only the most infrequent and desultory visits to his of
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have not finished this one yet; I am half way through, but I think this may be my least favorite ZEN mystery. (I am a hopeless fan; I am working my way through them all...)

This plot runs parallel to the famous opera, "COSE FAN TUTTE." I think the opera title refers to a female "tutte" ("all"); as in "Women are all like that;" whereas the book title has been altered ("TUTTI") to refer to the masculine, or inclusive, as in truly everybody, not just all women. Forgive my mangled Italian translati
Alan Taylor
Not the most successful of Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen novels but an interesting experiment. Loosely based around the plot of Mozart's similarly named opera, the plot is similarly farcical. Zen, never the most dedicated of policemen, is here a lazy, work-shy bumbler who rarely seems to know what is going on and at times the plot became so convoluted that I shared his bemusement. But there is enough here to make the book worthwhile and some laugh out loud moments such as the taxi driver who inte ...more
Bruno Bouchet
Dead Lagoon was the first Zen mystery I read and I can see why Dibdin went in this direction for Cosi Fan Tutti. Looking back, Dead Lagoon was pretty grim and miserable both in weather and mood. Clearly Dibdin wanted some fun for the next book and he certainly has it with this. The plot of opera is quite cleverly updated and interwoven into the book and the opening is beautifully cinematic in it's following of the garbage truck. You don’t really need to know the opera to spot the operatic like q ...more
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, laffs
If you just relax at the beginning and accept that this is going to be silly, then it's really a lot of fun. I read it on trains between Linz and Vienna and it made me smile. And also made me think about similarities between Dibdin's Italy and my Austria. I laughed a few times, too. The themes addressed in the more serious Zen books are still here, but I guess the biggest one is "Who are the real criminals?" I mean, are all the corrupt things like bootlegs of designer gear and video games, reall ...more
Lukasz Pruski
"Everybody in Naples is more or less a gangster, my dear. It's a question of degree."

Zen again. Così fan tutti (1996) is my fifth novel by Michael Dibdin featuring the unconventional, unpredictable, and often unlucky police inspector Aurelio Zen. This time the plot takes us to Naples (the Italian name Napoli - coming from Greek Neapolis - sounds much better, of course), and is closely based on motifs from Lorenzo da Ponte's libretto to Mozart's famous opera buffa Così fan tutte. Note the one-let
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
So funky. I'll write more in a couple days. Jet lag is a harsh and unforgiving mistress.

- Robert Farwell / Edward Jones library / Mesa, AZ 2014
Lyn Elliott
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, mystery
This is the least satisfactory Aurelio Zen i have read. Here we see Zen with little integrity, turning his back on responsibility, accepting and entering into the corrupt and inefficient world of crime and policing in Naples. There's not much appealing about Zen's character in this book.
The Cosi Fan Tutti theme is far too complicated to sustain and the whole plot goes up in the air in the end, like coloured paper shapes.
I think it is time for me to move to books about Italy written by Italians,
Aug 07, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave up on this book with less than 50 pages left to read. I enjoyed the TV movies based on Dibdin's Zen mysteries, so i thought i would enjoy the books. Man, what a disappointment. The novel starts out witty and interesting and slowly degenerates into a boring, unfocused mess. There is no momentum to the story, and Dibdin tries hard to be clever and unusual, but just turns out confusing and irritating. I think this may be a rare case where the film adaptations are superior to the books.
Aug 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Michael. I love how clever you are, how you put in small plot elements that I forget about until they come up to surprise me much later in the book and add to the complexity of the case; how Aurelio is a good man despite himself... but. Sigh. This one was just too silly in the end. Like a parody of an Aurelio Zen book. And it started with such promise. I'll keep reading, but hope this is an anomaly.
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I loved this one. It was exactly the pick-me-up I needed after Dead Lagoon, which was depressing. I'm not at all familiar with the opera, but this book made me think of a Shakespearean comedy, especially the dénouement.
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007-reads, mysteries
This is the first Aurelio Zen mystery I've read although it probably won't be the last. (Michael Dibdin, sadly, died in 2007). Set in Naples, this book is a bit of a tour-de-force as it is loosely based on the Mozart opera of the same name, but updated to modern-day Italy. Quite enjoyable.
Starts strong, but degenerates into farce as Dibdin tries to cram his crime plot into a re-telling of the opera of the same name.
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears on my blog. Any links in the review on the blog are not reproduced here.

This was a DNF. Note: minor spoilers.

Set in Napoli (Naples) in Italy, this novel is one of a series, but it isn't the first in this series, and I haven't read any of the others, so that may or may not affect my take on this. I've actually been to Napoli, but the visit was so brief and it was so long ago that I barely recall it. It seems that everyone who writes detective series has t
Simon May
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy reading Michael Dibdin's work.

This was fun-ish.

It seemed to me to be a bit 'clever' fro the sake of being clever; it smacked of an author who is a little bored and uses a previous construct (an opera) to shoe-horn his character into.

It was an OK read.
Very Italian. Which means, nuts.
Graham Watson
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of the funniest books I have read
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very silly. Don’t bother.
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could say “what’s not to love?” about the book, but it didn’t blow me away by any means. It was entertaining, and there were definitely things I enjoyed about it, but it just generally was mediocre. Now that I’ve given it that ringing endorsement, if you care to keep reading I will tell you why.

The story takes place in Naples and centers on a police officer, Aurelio Zen, recently transferred from a posting in northern Italy. We follow Zen through his professional and private endeavors,
Jan 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Net als The Dying Of The Light behoort deze Cosi Fan Tutti, het vijfde deel in Dibdins Aurelio Zen-reeks, tot de meer tongue-in-cheek werken van de Britse misdaadschrijver. Deze keer is het geen binnenstebuitenkering van de klassieke whodunit, maar wil het een interdisciplinaire brug slaan naar Mozarts Cosi Fan Tutte, een opera buffa, wat een luchtiger subgenre was met Italiaanse roots. Net als in de opera (al heb ik dat wel moeten opzoeken) gaat het boek van start met twee jongelingen (in de op ...more
Oct 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gave up on this one halfway through.
Mar 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the series, fans of the opera familiar w/the series
Shelves: bibliotheque, 2012
* * * 1/2

If I were to sum up this book in one word, it would be "zany". (Or should that be "Zen-y"?) After the events of Dead Lagoon, Zen decides he'd like a bit of a rest, so he transfers to Naples, where he oversees the harbour detail and turns a blind eye to the scandalous goings-on at the police station there in exchange for being left alone. This frees up time for him to become involved in a plot hatched by a wealthy widow, who does not want her daughters becoming romantically involved with
J.D. Holiday
A Review of Cosi Fan Tutti by Michael Dibdin: In A NUTSHELL

I admit I had expectations about Michael Dibdin’s books with Aurelio Zen as the main character. I had been introduced to Aurelio Zen in the PBS Masterpiece Mystery series and loved all the characters which led me to buy other books in the series. In Cosi Fan Tutti, I was disappointed.

In general this story was a good one. Zen is a police inspector who tries to enforce the law in Naples, Italy where crime is part of every level of the pol
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Dibdin's Italian mysteries starring grumpy, enigmatic Aurelio Zen, a police detective. It is set in Naples, and Dibdin borrows from comic opera in his portrayal of this city, with its Mafia clans and soothsayers and underworld characters. Each chapter is short, like a scene from a fast moving play, and titled with a quote from an opera. Zen finds himself dealing with a few problems - he is investigating the murders of 3 political figures supposedly by some new terrorist outfit, an ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had read a couple of these years ago, but the early books are now being dramatized as a new series on "Masterpiece Mystery". Now having gone back and read "Vendetta" and "Cabal", I can only say that British author Michael Dibdin, who died in 2007, is probably turning over in his grave because the TV episodes bare little resemblance to the books and it is just such a stretch to have all these British actors with their various Brit accents playing all the Italian characters. This is one PBS Myst ...more
Jan 08, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
So awful I was embarrassed for the author.

Having seen Rufus Sewell looking so uncomfortable in the BBC's Zen (stilted dialogue, wooden acting, Sewell looking like he was thinking 'get me out of this turkey'...), I was curious to know what the books contained that the TV version seemed to be missing.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. The TV series is only a reflection of the stilted dialogue, ridiculous plot and cartoon characterisation to be found in this truly awful piece of garbage. I have to have a
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What did I think? I liked it, of course!!!! The pbs mystery series called "zen" renewed my interest in the late Dibdin just recently. Had always wondered why none of his books from this series had never been dramatized. Have two of these "aurelio zen" mysteries before but not in about ten years. He's a good read if you like Italy and the customs and lifestyle practiced by the Italians that seems alien to Americans, even to Americans of Italian descent; who are mainly of neapolitan origin, the vi ...more
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy
I came to Cosi Fan Tutti after watching the excellent BBC adaptations starting Rufus Sewell. My guess was and is that this is probably an unrepresentative way to begin reading the Zen canon (and frankly I hope that this proves to be the case). That said, I found this a perfectly enjoyable read, albeit a bit zanier than my usual fare. (Is there a "zany mystery" genre?) You don't have to know the Mozart opera to appreciate the conceit of the novel: my only exposure is the excellent 1996 Australia ...more
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful opera buffa with star crossed lovers, mistaken identities, cross dressing prostitutes, chase scenes with garbage trucks, a magician, some crooks and Zen's cranky elderly mother, his soon to be ex wife and his about to be former lover Tania swooping in from Rome in the last act to create a hilarious and melodramatic climax.

Zen, more cynical than ever, has fallen afoul of his superiors in Rome and given himself a pre-emptive demotion, volunteering for an assignment with the harbor deta
Jack London
This is my first read of a very popular British crime novelist whose hero, Inspector Zen, is a beleaguered Italian police detective who sets out to avoid getting tangled up in one crime but winds up solving another. On this occasion he has been exiled to Naples, where he doesn’t fit in with the local force but does help his landlady deal with the fact of her two daughters’ mismatched love of two low grade hoodlums. Fortunately for all, he also cracks the case of who has been inflicting vigilante ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Property of Blood (Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery #11)
  • The Terra-Cotta Dog (Inspector Montalbano, #2)
  • The Last Judgement (Jonathan Argyll, #4)
  • The Girl of His Dreams (Commissario Brunetti, #17)
  • La condanna del sangue: La primavera del commissario Ricciardi
  • Wasted Years (Charles Resnick, #5)
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)
  • 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)

Mystery & Thrillers Deals

  • Lost and Found (Rock Harbor Search and Rescue #2)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • Light Before Day
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Hold Still (Jocelyn Rush, #1)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • Still Waters (Sandhamn, #1)
    $4.99 $2.00
  • Into the Light (The Light, #1)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Burning Man (Gideon and Sirius, #1)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Disturbed
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Cold Black Earth
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Drowned Girls (Angie Pallorino, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Guardians of the Night (Gideon and Sirius, #2)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Man With the Golden Gun (James Bond, #13)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Beyond Belief (Emily Castles Mysteries)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • A Reason to Live (A Marty Singer Mystery Book 1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Memory Child
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Finding Emma (Finding Emma Series Book 1)
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Lucky Ones
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Red Gold (Night Soldiers, #5)
    $12.99 $1.99
  • A Small Indiscretion
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Allegedly
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Octopussy and the Living Daylights (James Bond, #14)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Dragon Bones (Red Princess, #3)
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Flee (Codename: Chandler #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Snow Garden
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Hallowed Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney #5)
    $7.99 $0.99
  • While the Savage Sleeps
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Technologists
    $12.99 $1.99
  • A Density of Souls
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Plea of Insanity
    $5.99 $0.99
  • Away from the Dark (The Light, #2)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Missing, Presumed (DS Manon, #1)
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Terms of Use
    $5.99 $1.99