After his adventures under sun-drenched Neapolitan skies in Cosi Fan Tutti, Aurelio Zen finds himself back in Rome, sneezing in a damp wine cellar and being given another unorthodox assignment: to release the jailed scion of an important wine-growing family who is accused of a brutal murder.
Zen travels north to an Italy as outwardly serene as Naples was manic.
Amid the quiet fields, autumnal skies and crumbling farmhouses of Piedmont, Zen must try to penetrate a traditional culture in which family and soil are inextricably linked.
Here secrets can last for generations, and have a finish as long and lingering as that of a good Barbaresco.
Zen must also face up to mysteries from his own past, as well as grapple with the greed, envy, hatred and love that are the human components of any landscape.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 400 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 17/02/2011
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9780571270828
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Review by abbottthomas
This is the first Aurelio Zen book I have read. I bought it after watching, and greatly enjoying, the new BBC mini series with Rufus Sewell in the name part. Sewell did it so well that I found this book rather a disappointment. This Zen, admittedly older than in the televised stories, is rather more like Maigret (without the wife). Definitely middle aged and a bit stuffy despite showing a willingness to break rules and cut corners when he thinks he's right. We are treated to some personal angst arising from difficult relationships in the past and leading to somnambulism. Brief (very) psychotherapy from the local doctor - also a prince, pot smoker, harpsichord virtuoso and lover of much younger women - only leads him to a improbable decision about personal family ties. The atmosphere sounds authentic and the author had expert help in getting the details of Piedmontese viticulture right. The scent of the white truffle oozes from the pages. The killings are brutal and rural and the resolution is obscure untill the end although there is a very obvious clue to the identity of the guiilty party about a third of the way through the book.I think I will meet up with Zen again, even if only for the descriptions of Italy.