Cabal Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Cabal

A year after the events in Vendetta, detective Aurelio Zen is happily seeing Tania, who separated from the husband who erroneously accused them of having an affair the year before.
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Zen is called to conduct an independent investigation of what looks like a suicide in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, which is an independent state inside Rome. A body fell from the dome -- that of Ludovico Ruspanti, an inveterate gambler and playboy from a dying noble family. Zen can tell right away it wasn't suicide, and an anonymous fax to the newspapers several days later claims Ruspanti was connected with a super-secret organization within the Knights of Malta (to whom Ruspanti belonged in an honorary sort of way). The victim also was under investigation for money laundering. The fax adds that Zen has falsified evidence to support the bogus suicide story.

As Zen follows the case, a Vatican security guard who was detailed to keep Ruspanti under surveillance gets electrocuted and a Milanese magistrate interested in prosecuting the case gets pushed under a train. But Zen has a hard time concentrating on the case because Tania, newly free from a constricting marriage, seems to be keeping secrets from her new boyfriend, too: a strange man answers her phone, and she has a lot of money that doesn't gibe with her administrative assistant position at the Ministry. This 1992 detective thriller is the third in Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series.
The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of Cabal

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 20%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   Dry-cynical How difficult to spot villain?    -   Difficult, but some clues given Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999 What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   80% Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, Foreign Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   feelings towards lover Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   Italian


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   Italy City?    -   Yes City:    -   Dirty, dangerous (like New York)

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references Unusual forms of death    -   dropped from large heights Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Michael Dibdin Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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