‘Dead Lagoon’ by Michael Dibdin
Friday 27th September – Sunday 6th October
Despite being briefly tempted by Cormac McCarthy’s debut novel, I couldn’t resist moving quickly on to the fourth Zen novel. There isn’t a great deal to add to what I have already written on the subject, so I’m probably going to repeat myself now. I think Zen is my favourite of the fictional detectives because he is so human. Not for him the infeasibly long days of bad diet and worse sleep. He is outsmarted and betrayed. He makes a fool of himself, but also gets things very right and does his best to be a decent human being. The best thing about the books is that Zen’s character really develops across the novels, and not just in the token he’s-getting-older/reference-to-something-significant-from-previous-story way that many series opt for.
‘The Man on The Boulevard’ by Georges Simenon
Tuesday 8th October – Saturday 12th October
Despite it only being 170 pages long, I couldn’t bring myself to finish this book. I found the story dull and dated, and I lost interest despite wanting to enjoy it.
‘Cosi Fan Tutti’ by Michael Dibdin
Saturday 12th October – Thursday 24th October
I guess the run had to end somewhere, but I found this to be the least enjoyable of the Zen books so far. I think the main problem I had was that Michael Dibdin seemed to be doing a version of the opera of the same name, and so the events within the book were comewhat contrived and melodramatic, a stark contrast to the usual low-key, understated style he employed in the earlier books.
I also found the events a little more difficult to follow, and even now I’m sure there was one subplot which was never properly resolved or explained.
This won’t deter me from reading the others in the series, though it has meant that I feel less urgency about moving on to the next installment. In that sense, it is probably a good thing that the spell has been broken as I could feel myself developing a new obsession with the Zen books, as I have done with the likes of Henning Mankell’s Wallander series, George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane to name but three. Ultimately, becuase of the generic nature of the books, I find them enjoyable at the time, but once the sequence is over I am left wanting something a little more from them. Individually, they are fine examples of their type, but collectively they are less rewarding than something like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, or possibly The Crimson Petal and The White.