20 January 2012

A Case for Ispettore Zen

I've probably mentioned before that I read a lot of crime novels. My favourites of the modern era are probably the Aurelio Zen series by Michael Dibdin. Zen, a detective of the Polizia di Stato, solves his cases with a blend of staggering luck and an involuntary bloody-mindedness which distracts him from his more important tasks of attempting to understand and navigate the women in his life and the political machinations of the Italian bureaucracy.

I have no idea how realistic Dibdin's grotesque presentation of the corruption and hidden motivations of Italian life really is, but I have not been able to see the Costa Concordia story in any other context than as an Aurelio Zen mystery. The captain who accidentally fell into a lifeboat and then argued with the coastguard on the phone, the mysterious blonde on the bridge, the cruise line that was blaming their own captain for everything even while the passengers were still being rescued:  all we can be sure of is that nothing is what it seems to be, and nobody is telling the truth. Only Zen can actually get to the truth of it, and even if he does, we probably won't know, because the official story might be completely different...

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