The man is Aurelio Zen. The place is Venice, once his home, now the site of his reluctant homecoming. Zen is a member of the elite Italian Criminalpol squad stationed in Rome: a middle-aged man disgusted with - but begrudgingly resigned to - the political bog of corruption and cynicism within which he has to work. Intelligent, weary, urbane, pensive, Zen has been the complex heart of Michael Dibdin's most highly praised books. And now, he's back. He's back in Venice after a long absence, and under false pretenses: ostensibly to investigate the "haunting" of an old family friend but actually, and illegally, to find the body - dead or alive - of the missing patriarch of a wealthy American family. With no real authority and no leads, Zen is reminded that amid the shifting light and water of the lagoons, nothing is what it seems - not even the skeletal corpse discovered, unburied, on the Isle of the Dead. The questions of how and why it came to be there are shrouded in mystery, confusion, and an indeterminate but growing threat of violence. And they are questions that will inexorably draw Zen into a confrontation with the veiled, seemingly unknowable truths about his own life.
Michael Dibdin was born in England and raised in Northern Ireland. He attended Sussex University and the University of Alberta in Canada. He spent five years in Perugia, Italy, where he taught English at the local university. He went on to live in Oxford, England and Seattle, Washington. He was the author of eighteen novels, eleven of them in the popular Aurelio Zen series, including Ratking, which won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger, and Cabal, which was awarded the French Grand Prix du Roman Policier. His work has been translated into eighteen languages. He died in 2007.