I was surprised to learn today that British author Michael Dibdin died in Seattle on March 30 at the age of 60.
Inspector Aurelio Zen brought the author renown. After "Ratking," Dibdin wrote 10 novels featuring the world-weary detective, including his recently completed "End Games," which will be published posthumously.
Dibdin met third wife, Katherine Beck, herself a mystery writer, during a writers' conference in Spain in 1993. The couple later moved to Seattle, which provided the setting for his first American-based novel, "Dark Spectre" in 1995.
Dibdin, who died March 30, is survived by his third wife, two daughters and three stepchildren.
I became a Michael Dibdin fan a few years ago when I was working deep in the Sahara Desert under conditions that left limited options for after dark activities. It was either drink heavily and gamble at cards or read books. But the tricky bit was the requirement that we hand-carry enough of everything that we would need for a 30-day hitch with no "do-overs" if we forgot anything. Everything had to fit into two bags and, frankly, since we did have laundry service, I used most of my space for foods like peanut butter, jelly, tuna, and the like. The fact that we were never able to squeeze in 30 days worth of reading material, and the sheer weight of paper, resulted in some great reading discoveries as I traded books with co-workers from the U.K., South Africa, France, Ireland and Canada over a number of years.
All that to say that I discovered Dibdin in a trade with an English buddy who was a big fan of the Aurelio Zen series for which Dibdin is best known. Zen is an "elite member of Rome's Criminalpol" and the series centers around his police work all around Italy, many times resulting in Zen butting heads with the Italian mafia. I've read now about half of the Zen books and I have another one, And Then You Die, somewhere in the middle of my TBR stack. If you're a fan of crime/detective fiction, Dibdin is a writer you won't want to miss. He may not have sold in the huge numbers of some of the hacks who top the best seller lists every week but he wrote circles around that kind of writer.