About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ratking by Michael Dibdin

The Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass, hosted by Kerrie Smith at Mysteries in Paradise, is nearing the end of the journey around Europe. The trip reaches Italy this week. I am looking back to the opening Aurelio Zen mystery from the late 1980's. 


44. – 507.) Ratking by Michael Dibdin – The first Aurelio Zen mystery from 1988. Zen, working at a meaningless inventory position after being removed from the kidnapping unit, is chosen to handle the investigation in Perugia of the taking of Ruggiero Miletti, a prominent and wealthy businessman. When Zen arrives the local police are barely co-operative, the investigating magistrate is far from aggressive and not all in the family are distraught about the kidnapping. The book gives a brilliant portrayal of the twisted murky relationships of Italian society. For the Italian police and judiciary the wealth and influence of those involved can hamper or accelerate an investigation depending on the favours exchanged and the pressure exerted. The torturous path of Italian court cases is discussed. As I read the book the ponderous trial of Amanda Knox was reaching its conclusion and her conviction. (Two years later I post this review on the day her appeal from her murder conviction is allowed and she is released from custody.) The title refers to the tangle of tails rats can get into when too closely packed together. It is a vivid, even revolting image. The Miletti family is certainly warped and tangled. Despite the lack of support Zen progresses in the pursuit of the Calabrian kidnappers. It seems strange that, twenty years ago, negotiations for the kidnapped could continue for months. It is a subtle book. I look forward to reading the next in the series. Paperback. (Nov. 16/09)


  1. Bill - Thanks for this well-written, thoughtful and very interesting review. You bring up one of the things that seems to be quite an important theme in a lot of Italian crime fiction - the murky tangle of relationships all through Italian society. A fascinating topic and those relationships are so often at the root of the story.

  2. Margot: Thanks for your comment. Extending your point, based on crime fiction there, are there more complex relationships in Italian society than other European countries?

  3. Interesting question, Bill! I would say, based on the crime fiction I've read, that no, there aren't more complex relationships in Italian society. Perhaps they are more often the focus of a crime novel, but honestly, I can think of several crime fiction novel that take place in other European countries where relationships get very, very murky and complex.

  4. Margot: Thanks for the reply comment. I will be thinking about the nature of societal relationships by country as I read over the next year.