It has been more than four months since Italian construction magnate Ruggiero Miletti was kidnapped. The family paid 10 billion lira for his release, but the kidnappers didn't let him go. It is now the early spring of 1982, and Miletti's card-playing buddy Antonio Crepi pulls strings at the national Ministry of the Interior to get somebody sent from Rome to take over the case.
Detective Aurelio Zen, exiled to a desk job in the Ministry since his disgrace on a 1978 case, is sent to Perugia. Pleased to get away from Rome, the native Venetian is not so happy about leaving his mother stranded at his apartment, as well as his girlfriend, an American divorcee who deals in antiques. Naturally, the local Pergia police are not happy about Zen's presence, and strangely, the Miletti family is uncooperative as well. Could one of the victim's grown kids be behind the kidnapping? Things turn even nastier after Zen goes out to pay a second ransom and gets beaten up, and Miletti shortly turns up dead. The case could revive Zen's career or break him forever. This gritty 1989 mystery thriller was the start of Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series.
This report prepared by David Loftus