Medusa – Michael Dibdin

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“Every woman is Medusa. When you look into her eyes, you see the entire history of the human race. That’s enough to turn anyone to stone.”

Those were the words of a soldier, Leonardo Ferrero, whose body was discovered by Austrian cavers while hiking the Dolomites. The problem was that Ferrero died thirty years ago from an explosion according to the Ministry of Defense.

His corpse was found to have a tattoo of Medusa, representing a military cell based in Verona, a center for neo-Fascism in 1973. Now after discovering Ferrero’s body, more members of the old Medusa cell are found dead.

The Ministry of the Interior solicits Aurelio Zen, investigator for the State Police, to be put on the case. This will be sure  to embarrass their political rival, the Ministry of Defense, who may have something to hide.  Also is the Misteri d’ italia (the secret service) involved?

Medusa, the ninth installment in the Aurelio Zen series takes through current day northern Italy and its culture, amidst flashbacks to the mid/late twentieth century political turmoil within the country. The late author Michael Didbin takes Zen and the reader through a spiral of events that could take lead in so many directions. I enjoyed how he formed the supporting characters, and made them fascinating stories in themselves. Though the ending was convincing and somewhat of a surprise—as I said, the events could have taken us to many possible conclusions— I really wanted something that was totally off my radar. That didn’t happen.

Even so, the windy road there was well worth the journey.   I found Zen to be a mystery in himself and would like to learn more about him. That, along with my love of Italian culture, will entice me to read more from the Aurelio Zen series.

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