In the latest installment in his critically acclaimed Italian mystery series, Michael Didbin sends Aurelio Zen to Italy’s culinary capital, Bologna, where he discovers that some cases are not quite what they appear to be.
When the corpse of the shady Bologna industrialist who owns the local football team is found both shot and stabbed with a Parmesan knife, Aurelio Zen is summoned to oversee the investigation. Anxious for a break from his girlfriend, who attributes Zen’s slow recovery from routine surgery to hypochondria, he is only too happy to take on what first appears to be an undemanding assignment. The case quickly spins out of control, becoming entangled with the fates of a student semiotics, a mysterious immigrant claiming to be royalty, and Bologna’s most incompetent private detective. Meanwhile a prominent postmodern academic accuses Italy’s leading celebrity chef of being a fraud. Back to Bologna is dazzlingly plotted and delivers both comic and serious insights into the realities of today’s Italy.
Merrily deconstructing the formula of "the realistic, plot-driven novel" as he goes along, Dibdin challenges his police detective, Aurelio Zen, to determine which of the many enemies of the despised owner of the hometown soccer team stabbed him in the heart with a knife used for cutting giant wheels of Parmesan…With a nod to Italian-based crime writers like Donna Leon and Magdalen Nabb, Dibdin drags other fictional cops into this caper, which ambles from the medieval squares and open-air food markets of the city to the grand interiors of its fabled lecture hallsbefore ending hilariously in the "exuberantly filthy" kitchen of a pizza joint.