Michael Dibdin (Estate)

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Michael John Dibdin was born in Wolverhampton in 1947, to a Cambridge-educated physicist father with a passionate enthusiasm for folk music.  The family travelled extensively around Britain until Michael turned seven, when they settled in Northern Ireland.

After graduating with an English degree from Sussex University he took a Master’s Degree at the University of Alberta, Canada, and went on to teach there as a graduate student.  Dibdin’s first published novel, The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, his self-proclaimed "pastiche", appeared in 1978. Shortly afterwards he moved to Italy to teach for a number of years at the University of Perugia where he was inspired to write a second novel, A Rich Full Death, set in Victorian Florence.  In 1988 he wrote Ratking, the first of the famous crime series featuring the Italian detective Aurelio Zen. The novel won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger award.  Other books in this series include three of his best received titles, Cabal (1992), which was awarded the French Grand Prix du Roman Policier, Dead Lagoon (1994), and finally End Games, published posthumously in 2007.  Amongst his best-received non-Zen novels were The Dying of the Light, an Agatha Christie pastiche, and the darkly comic Dirty Tricks.
While Dibdin travelled frequently to Italy, he lived in Seattle with his wife the novelist Kathrine Beck, from where he wrote all but the first three Zen novels.  The city also provided a new location for his other detective novels including Dark Spectre (1995) and Thanksgiving (2000), the story of a British journalist's obsession with his recently dead American wife.

Michael Dibdin died in 2007 at the age of 60.





For film, theatre and television enquiries, please contact Anthony Jones at United Agents.




Publication DetailsNotes


Aurelio Zen returns to his native Venice to investigate the disappearance of a rich American resident but he soon learns that, amid the hazy light and shifting waters of the lagoon, nothing is what it seems. As Zen is drawn deeper into the complex and ambiguous mysteries surrounding the discovery of a skeletal corpse on an ossuary island in the north lagoon, he is also forced to confront a series of disturbing revelations about his own life.



Aurelio Zen is posted to Calabria, where in the heart of a tight-knit traditional community there has been a brutal murder. Zen is determined to find a way to penetrate the code of silence and uncover the truth. But his mission is complicated by another secret which has drawn strangers from the other side of the world: a hunt for buried treasure launched by a single-minded player with millions to spend pursuing his bizarre and deadly obsession.



Dragged back to work in spite of ill health that may be hypochondria, and faced with the breakdown of his long-term relationship, Zen finds himself caught up in the murder of a football club owner, a cooking duel between a celebrity chef and a post-modern professor and the amorous adventures of a beautiful immigrant from Ruritania.



When the corpse of a young officer who supposedly died in a plane crash 30 years ago turns up in a remote mountain tunnel, the rival agencies of the Italian state gear up to discredit each other over crimes long forgotten. Zen takes the case partly to obey his orders to help stitch up his boss’s rivals in the security services, partly because he wants to get a modicum of justice done. This long-ago death is not going to be the last, as Zen and others race around gathering or destroying evidence; the solution to what happened all those years ago turns out to be both poignant and ingenious, and to symbolise just how even the nastier idealisms of the militarist far right can be subverted for quite sordid motives.



After months in a hospital recovering from the injuries sustained in a Mafia attack, Zen is incommunicado at a beach resort on the Tuscan coast, psyching himself up to testify in a forthcoming anti-Mafia trial. His orders are straightforward: lie back and relax in a classic Italian beach holiday. He is happy to do this, and even flirts with the seductive woman under the next beach umbrella. It goes without saying that his idyll is short-lived, and as a remarkable number of people begin to die around him, it becomes apparent that the Cosa Nostra is intent on finishing the murder attempt that went wrong months ago on a Sicilian road.



Dibdin’s diffidently honest Italian policeman Aurelio Zen has got the posting he always dreaded. He has been sent to Sicily, home of the Mafia, in a nondescript liaison job. The woman who might be his daughter is there too, fixing police computers and worried that someone has a backdoor into data; she is enjoying a flirtation with a woman magistrate whose pursuit of the Mafia is based on quite personal agendas. Someone died nastily of heatstroke and starvation in a railway van on a siding. The Limoni family deny, as local Mafia chieftains anxious to retain prestige would, that it was their missing son; and someone will end up paying in blood for this murder that never happened.



Fresh from the successful investigation of a series of crimes in Naples, Aurelio Zen returns to his office in Rome to discover that a new set of bureaucrats is in power with plans to punish him for his success by sending to him Sicily to fight the Mafia. Fate, in the form of a powerful film director, offers a way out: Zen is to go instead to Piedmont, where the murder of a noted winemaker, apparently by his son and heir, threatens the future of one of the film director’s favourite vintages.



Aurelio Zen finds himself in Naples, in disgrace but having the time of his life. Corrupt politicians, shady business men and eminent mafiosi are disappearing off the streets at an alarming rate, but Zen’s commitment to his work is at an all-time low.



Inspector Aurelio Zen is facing the biggest mystery of his professional career. Drawn into the plots of the Vatican city, he becomes certain of one thing — that in life the only certainty is death.



An impossible case for Aurelio Zen as Oscar Burolo, the kind of big-shot who thought he could control everything, is discovered dead. Burolo had turned his Sardinian mansion into a fortress because plenty of people wanted to get even with him. Inside, everything was recorded on closed-circuit TV, even his own violent death.



Police Commissioner Aurelio Zen has crossed swords with the establishment before — and lost. From the depths of a mundane desk job in Rome he is unexpectedly transferred to Perugia to take over a kidnapping case involving one of Italy’s most powerful families.



Anthony is a British journalist whose American wife, Lucy, has suddenly died. Grieving and haunted, he becomes obsessed with her youth and the years he missed before he met her. To find out more, he travels to a remote part of the Nevada desert to meet Lucy's first husband. Their encounter is the beginning of a journey that takes him across the world, to the edge of madness, and into the corners of the human heart. It is a journey in which he is never at peace and never far from the woman he still loves.



What is it that binds together a series of violent murders across America and the long-lost Secret of the Templars? The killings always take place in the home, usually in broad daylight, in towns and cities all over America. The victims are of every age and background; they have been bound and gagged and shot in the head at close range. The crimes appear to be random and motiveless and no one has claimed responsibility. So what connects the killings to an obscure religious sect operating from an island in the Pacific North-West? And what clues lie hidden in the Secret of the Templars...?

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Agent: Anthony Jones
Assistant: Danielle Walker