Aurelio Zen, the Italian Maigret, now working out of Rome's criminal investigation division, is assigned the Villa Burolo massacre--in which every member of the wealthy Burolo's house party died, with the scene captured on videotape (as were most of the activities at the villa)! While Zen ponders, someone lifts the videotape from his house and taunts him with notes. But it's only after Zen's superiors send him off to Sardinia to frame the ``murderer'' they have at hand that Zen draws the right connections between a recently slain magistrate, an informer, and the threats against himself--which tie in with the prison release of Vasco Ernesto Spadola. Waylaid in a ravine, Zen barely escapes Spadola- -before assigning the massacre murders to a complicated bit of demented revenge at the hands of a simple-minded woman. A multilayered tale in which Dibdin (Dirty Tricks, p. 970, etc.) juggles cynicism (in Italian officialdom, expediency wins the day--every time), humor (Zen's lust), and chagrin (Zen's relationship with his mother versus hers with her family of ``Auntie''-sitters). But the interspersing of the killer's thoughts is far too corny a ploy for a writer of Dibdin's skill.