My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Having been the victim of a Mafia car bombing, Inspector Aurelio Zen is under protective custody, recuperating dejectedly at a seaside villa. Although he goes to the beach nearly every day, he’s made only a single friend, Gemma, who’s separated from her wealthy husband. One morning, an interloper has taken over Zen’s reserved beach chair, but since the man’s asleep, and Zen doesn’t take such things personally, Zen obligingly finds an empty spot nearby. It’s a habit that will save his life, for the man never gets up again, and when the news of the murder reaches headquarters, Zen is whisked off to another location. Soon it becomes painfully obvious that Zen is at the top of someone’s hit list.
And Then You Die, like it predecessors in this series, unfolds slowly, and it takes Zen weeks of ruminating and philosophizing, as is his wont, to put 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 together. When he finally does so, he and Gemma find themselves in the position of fugitives, and the last third of the book sharply picks up the pace. A desperate flight ensues, one that at times becomes a comedy of errors. The Italian nation and its characteristics are as much a character as anyone else in these books, and Zen, being thoroughly Italian relies upon his understanding of his countrymen to extract himself from some very tight situations. There are numerous loose ends left dangling at the conclusion, and these will probably be resolved in the next Zen installment, Unfortunately, author Dibdin died in 2007, so that book, prophetically entitled End Games, is the last, alas.