Michael Dibdin’s veteran Italian police officer is back. The newest addition to this remarkable series consistently galvanizing as much for its revelation of the subtle complexities of Italian life as for its page-turning suspense is a novel of long-held secrets set against a sweeping background of political and passionate intrigue.
When a group of Austrian cavers exploring a network of abandoned military tunnels in the Italian Alps comes across human remains at the bottom of a deep shaft, everyone assumes the death was accidental. Until, that is, the still-unidentified body is stolen from the morgue and the Defense Ministry puts a news blackout on the case. And is the recent car bombing in Campione D’Italia, a tiny tax haven surrounded on all sides by Switzerland, somehow related? The whole affair has the whiff of political corruption. That’s enough to interest Aurelio Zen’s boss at the Interior Ministry, who wants to know who is hiding what from whom, and why.
The search for the truth leads Zen back into the murky history of postwar Italy and the obscure corners of modern-day society to uncover the truth about a crime that everyone thought was as dead and buried as its victim.
Although Dibdin's superb Venetian mystery Dead Lagoon is still the finest book in this series, Medusa comes close in the remarkable depth and breadth of its on-the-ground detail. As Zen travels the region on solitary rail journeys, he immerses himself in the history, the customs and, above all, the political secrets of the country contained in the ''cliques, cabals, corruption'' we come to know as ''the endless misteri d'Italia.'' Marilyn Stasio