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BACK TO BOLOGNA by Michael Dibdin Kirkus Star


by Michael Dibdin

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 2006
ISBN: 0-307-27588-4
Publisher: Vintage

Bologna on wry.

Millionaire entrepreneur Lorenzo Curti, who cavalierly traded his football team’s best players, leaving them winless and their fans irate, lies dead in his blue Audi, leaving the citizens of Bologna untroubled. Aurelio Zen’s midlife spell of hypochondria is interrupted when he’s sent to the scene to oversee the high-profile case. Consumed by his health, his depression and a bad patch he and girlfriend Gemma are going through, he can hardly bring himself to care about the deceased. As he glumly wanders around town, his path crosses that of a smart-mouthed student whose professor has just dissed a TV celebrity chef and whose roommate is being tailed by a feckless PI set on him by his lawyer papa. In a tour-de-farce worthy of Groucho Marx, the professor gets shot in the tush; the celebrity chef, who can’t boil water, sets a pan of cooking oil on fire; the shamus, who’s notched his name in his highly prized gun, loses it and gets stiffed by his client; and the student and his roommate have words about a certain football jacket that manages to entwine everyone, culminating in a finale so uproarious it dispels Zen’s depression.

Dibdin (Medusa, 2004, etc.) satirizes TV spinmeisters, academe, private-eye conventions and midlife angst. You can’t help but be charmed by his string-pulling, even if it does give the corpse short shrift.