cover image Cosi Fan Tutti: An Aurelio Zen Mystery

Cosi Fan Tutti: An Aurelio Zen Mystery

Michael Dibdin. Pantheon Books, $23 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-679-44272-1

In this spry new mystery constructed along comically operatic lines, Italian copper Aurelio Zen (Dead Lagoon, etc.) finds that his quest for the simpler life leads to a new beat in Naples and to a series of convoluted criminal conundrums. A garbage truck prowls the streets, slaughtering several notable organized crime figures; a mystery man posing as an American sailor is involved in a fracas at the port; and ownership of a pirated software game is called into question. Zen meanwhile stumbles into a whole new identity for himself and gives aid to the handsome widow of a mobster, who is anxious to rid herself of her two pretty young daughters' lowlife suitors. Zen employs the most alluring hookers he can find to entice the dutiful young men away. There are a wealth of cute moments: Zen running stark naked through the widow's apartment; Zen wildly extemporizing his way out of trouble with a superior officer. The operatic notions and a general absence of realism allow Dibdin free reign for flights of fancy and copious coincidence. Dibdin (Dark Spectre), a supremely skilled author able to fashion the mystery form into an endless series of deft variations, demonstrates an especially witty facet of his rich talent here. (May)