Aurelio Zen is faced with a seemingly insoluble mystery in Vendetta, and the hapless detective falls into the solution, this time literally. Some government ministry officials assign him to the murder of an eccentric billionaire, Oscar Burolo, whose corrupt dealings have made many Italian politicians wealthy. The chief suspect is a friend of one of the politicians. They want Zen to find a murderer–just about anyone except the suspect will do–and if he has to frame someone, that’s fine, too.
The problem is that Burolo was killed on his seemingly impregnable estate in Sardinia, where every room is monitored by video. Burolo’s death is plainly visible on the cameras, but not his murderer.
Before Zen leaves for Sardinia, though, some odd things happen. He thinks someone may have been following him, and someone has been in his house. A criminal he put away has just been released from jail, and a magistrate has been slain, but he sees no connection between these two incidents. It takes awhile, but Zen figures out that someone is stalking him. His growing relationship with his coworker Tania is also complicated by his being forced to go out of town.
On the scene of the crime, Zen finds an odd care-taking couple and learns that the chief suspect was probably not the murderer. Everyone that was on the scene was killed with a shotgun, and no one else appears to have been in that part of the house. Yet, the estate’s safeguards make it next to impossible for someone to have sneaked in from the outside, it appears.
In his bumbling way, Zen remains incorruptible while managing to stumble into a solution of the crime that makes everyone happy. Dibdin’s mysteries always cynically expose corruption in the Italian government. Zen is a somewhat befuddled detective, nattily dressed, and Dibdin takes great pleasure in occasionally covering his impeccable detective with muck. Vendetta is no exception. Zen’s romances and his difficult relationship with his nearly senile mother are important components of the series, which is occasionally funny and furnishes a clever puzzle to work out.