The secret to Aurelio Zen's success, we learn in the eighth installment of the series, is that he doesn't seem like a detective. The secret to author Michael Dibdin's success is the novels do not seem like action thrillers. Indeed, some parts of "And Then You Die" read more like a Coen Brothers film (maybe even with hints of Inspector Clouseau) than an Italian noir thriller.
It’s easy to see why this novel won a Gold Dagger award and I really enjoyed the mystery, perhaps partially from having recently seen the BBC TV series, was able to picture the main character easily and feel the melancholy of his new circumstances. I found the only drawback was the sequence near the end when loose ends were getting resolved - it was very good at increasing the tension to begin with, but felt it went slightly too far in the ‘odd coincidences’, near catastrophes etc. which Zen managed to escape by the skin of his teeth. It did intriguingly set the potential storyline for the next installment. Very funny to read about ‘Italian’ prejudices and views on life.
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