Ratking

Ratking

In this masterpiece of psychological suspense, Italian Police Commissioner Aurelio Zen is dispatched to investigate the kidnapping of Ruggiero Miletti, a powerful Perugian industrialist. But nobody much wants Zen to succeed: not the local authorities, who view him as an interloper, and certainly not Miletti's children, who seem content to let the head of the family languis...

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Title:Ratking
Author:Michael Dibdin
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Ratking Reviews

  • Murray

    The first Aurelio Zen novel as far as I am aware. A wonderful read that really does evoke Italy in some beautifully turned prose. Dibdin's plots are always carefully put together, and you are kept guessing a lot in this book. What a ratking actually is, is a wonderful metaphor for what happens in this book. This, and Cosi Fan Tutti are the best of this series.

  • Bill Kerwin

    Inspector Aurelio Zen is transfered to Perugia to investigate the kidnapping of a wealthy phonograph manufacturer. Dibdin does a good job of showing the casual politics and rampant favoritism of the Italian justice system, and gives us a good crime yarn as well.

    Dibdin is a sharp observer, intelligent and analytical, and he writes with style.

  • notgettingenough

    I have no idea why anybody would compare Dibdin with Chandler: he is wordy where Chandler is minimalist, verging on sentimental where Chandler is cynical. Could two characters be more different than Zen and Marlowe? Zen who lives with his mother and isn't going to give that up for all the sex in China and -

    ?!

    Good book. Chandler it ain't.

  • Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo

    My first encounter with

    winning author

    's

    was watching

    one Sunday night. The onscreen Aurelio is somewhat younger and darker than the one in RATKING. Here we are introduced to this anti-hero and taste the late Dibdin’s irony and black humour in Zen’s persona that the telecast so aptly captures. As with new introductions, the reader isn’t sure of Zen. His opening scene shows us an indifferent policeman. Aurelio sits by idly during a robbery on a

    My first encounter with

    winning author

    's

    was watching

    one Sunday night. The onscreen Aurelio is somewhat younger and darker than the one in RATKING. Here we are introduced to this anti-hero and taste the late Dibdin’s irony and black humour in Zen’s persona that the telecast so aptly captures. As with new introductions, the reader isn’t sure of Zen. His opening scene shows us an indifferent policeman. Aurelio sits by idly during a robbery on a train to Rome all the while his fellow compartment companions berate him for his inaction. Rather than defending himself, he debarks and calls the local authorities to handle the situation. Is our protagonist corrupt or inept? The answer is much more complex; Aurelio Zen isn’t an active inspector because of a failed kidnapping investigation years earlier. Zen is also an outsider. He is Venetian, the wrong part of Italy for many in the police force and the Judiciary. He even has an American girlfriend!

    So when political pressure is applied to a well placed Senator in Rome, Police Commissioner Aurelio Zen is the perfect choice to go to Perugia to investigate the kidnapping of prominent industrialist Ruggiero Miletti that has stalled. It soon dawns on Zen that no one expects him to succeed; that his presence is only for show. The local authorities and the communist investigating magistrate view him as an unnecessary interloper, yet one who can manipulate to achieve their own political agenda against the Miletti family. The Miletti children seem content with the absence of their father and are uncooperative with the authorities. Each has a secret as well as reasons to allow Ruggiero languish in the hands of the kidnappers. Is the answer that simple or close? Zen is determined to find out much to the chagrin of all.

    The plot is a perfect mix of atmosphere and puzzle. The characters are strong, though Zen is slightly underdeveloped as any protagonist is in book 1 of a series. Perugia, Italy becomes a familiar old friend as the reader walks its streets with Aurelio. However, one weakness prevented me from rating this

    winning novel 5 stars is Dibdin’s excessive use of italics in phone dialogues, thoughts, and poster board content. I found some passages confusing and had to re-read some before becoming at ease with this literary technique. And lordy mercy, how many times may an author use “dottore”? But on the whole, RATKING was a very satisfying suspenseful read!

  • Kia

    Like many of the reviews on this book, I turned to this book mostly after learning there was a Masterpiece Mystery series (

    ) coming out based on these books. And like many of the others, I find myself comparing Rufus Seawell's Zen with the character Dibdin created. That's almost always a mistake.

    I can't say that I don't like Dibdin's Zen, I think I prefer the version written for Masterpiece. Dibdin's Zen is a restless man in his

    Like many of the reviews on this book, I turned to this book mostly after learning there was a Masterpiece Mystery series (

    ) coming out based on these books. And like many of the others, I find myself comparing Rufus Seawell's Zen with the character Dibdin created. That's almost always a mistake.

    I can't say that I don't like Dibdin's Zen, I think I prefer the version written for Masterpiece. Dibdin's Zen is a restless man in his 50s struggling with the fading of a career that hasn't fulfilled his plans. He also deals with a mother who is either losing her memory or her grip on reality, but this is so much a part of his everyday life he doesn't seem to "struggle" with this as much as float above it.

    The Masterpiece version is a good and decent man who is regarded as being above moral reproach. A moral center in a corrupt world. He's trying to be a good son, a good cop and win over a beautiful coworker who's in a bad marriage. His own marital state is never at issue, his estranged wife has a lover and isn't interested in remaining married to him.

    I take issue with every review I read calling this a "psychological thriller", I don't know where that started, but it's wrong. Police Procedural, yes. Psychological Thriller, no. I did think Zen was getting screwed with, but it had nothing to do with psychology and everything to do with everyone in Perugia resenting this outsider sticking his nose into affairs that were none of his business.

    After getting past the idea that these are not the same characters, I still can't decide if I liked this book well enough to read another. There is an assumption that the reader will have more than a passing knowledge of internal Italian politics.

    I'm reminded of an anthropology paper I wrote during college. The assignment was to write about an event we'd seen or participated in that would be foreign to outsiders. We were to write it as a cultural anthropologist would have. I wrote about a Piping Ashore Ceremony I'd attended for a Senior Chief Petty Officer who retired after a 20+ year career. I started out fine, defining terms, explaining what the outsider would have seen and heard and what it meant. At some point, I switched into an insider recounting this beautiful service and forget to explain the traditions. My professor reminded me that I'd forgotten my reader didn't know what I knew and walked away no more informed about this incredible experience.

    Dibdin gave me a sense of this beautiful town, Perugia and it's people, but I'm no better informed about Italy's police and justice system. I feel the need to study up on the Questura, Carabinieri and the Magistrates before I tackle another one of these books.

    Will I read another? Maybe. Dibdin won awards for this first book of the series, but perhaps as so many writers do, he got better with later books. I haven't given up yet, but life is too short to read bad books. I'll stumble across another book in this series and give it a try.

  • Shane Lusher

    I really wanted to give the book more than three stars. The language is great, and though it was writting in the 80s, i.e. not so long ago, I had the feeling I was taking part in an old European mystery, á la Orient Express.

    The characters are also well-developed, or at least very well described, and again, the language throughout the book is refreshing considering what sometimes passes for great English crime writing nowadays.

    The book is a detective novel through-and-thro

    I really wanted to give the book more than three stars. The language is great, and though it was writting in the 80s, i.e. not so long ago, I had the feeling I was taking part in an old European mystery, á la Orient Express.

    The characters are also well-developed, or at least very well described, and again, the language throughout the book is refreshing considering what sometimes passes for great English crime writing nowadays.

    The book is a detective novel through-and-through, and not a thriller, and yet I felt that the plot could have moved forward more quickly. With only fifty pages to go, I had to almost force myself to finish the book, not because I already knew whodunit, but because of the aforementioned positive qualities of the book.

    The problem was that the book seemed to wrap up at that point, without revealing the culprit. The action seemed to have resolved, and when the criminal was revealed, finally, at the very end, it wasn't much of a surprise. Certainly it had been alluded to many times over during the course of the book. I suppose I kept reading because I thought it must have been someone else.

  • Cphe

    Overall I enjoyed this mystery/ police procedural but when I finished the novel I had the feeling that I should have enjoyed it more.

    Thought the premise of the story well presented but had the overall impression that it wasn't as concisely written as I wanted to read. Aurelio Zen was an interesting character, he was obviously intelligent and understood the machinations and deviousness involved in running a police investigation that he really wasn't meant to solve. A loner taking on t

    Overall I enjoyed this mystery/ police procedural but when I finished the novel I had the feeling that I should have enjoyed it more.

    Thought the premise of the story well presented but had the overall impression that it wasn't as concisely written as I wanted to read. Aurelio Zen was an interesting character, he was obviously intelligent and understood the machinations and deviousness involved in running a police investigation that he really wasn't meant to solve. A loner taking on the establishment.

    Loved the Italian setting and not quite knowing with absolute certainty who the "bad guys" were.

    Great atmosphere another from "The Guardian 1000" book list.

  • Linn

    I got this book because I really liked the show. And as it was cancelled way to early, I was hoping to get even more from the books.

    I don't often say this, but the book was not better.

    It's obviously unfair blaming a book because it wasn't like a TV show it has inspired, but I was just so disappointed. Gone was the fun, the witty, smart and sexy detective, the charming Italian stuff. Instead we got dark, moody, corrupt and gritty. Zen is in his 50s in the book, unsure of h

    I got this book because I really liked the show. And as it was cancelled way to early, I was hoping to get even more from the books.

    I don't often say this, but the book was not better.

    It's obviously unfair blaming a book because it wasn't like a TV show it has inspired, but I was just so disappointed. Gone was the fun, the witty, smart and sexy detective, the charming Italian stuff. Instead we got dark, moody, corrupt and gritty. Zen is in his 50s in the book, unsure of himself, disillusioned, and at times close to a break down. I've really had my fill of that kind of broken detective, and it was just boring where it should have been fun and colourful.

    Of course it doesn't help that I knew the plot from watching the series, but I'm unsure I would have found it riveting even if I didn't. It reminded me a little of The Blind Man of Seville by Robert Wilson (another British writer trying to capture that Mediterranean feel), which was a book I positively hated.

    So there you have it, major disappointment and it was an effort to finish it. Yet it might be other people's cup of tea.

  • Ian Brydon

    It is often a mistake to return to reread a book one remembers having enjoyed. There is a risk that former illusions can be shattered, and one’s judgement from earlier, more innocent days, cast sharply into doubt.

    It must be almost thirty years ago that I first read Michael Dibdin’s novels featuring the cynical and jaded detective Aurelio Zen, who seemed to be despatched from Rome to a different part of Italy in each book. I suppose that I was in part won over by the unusual setting b

    It is often a mistake to return to reread a book one remembers having enjoyed. There is a risk that former illusions can be shattered, and one’s judgement from earlier, more innocent days, cast sharply into doubt.

    It must be almost thirty years ago that I first read Michael Dibdin’s novels featuring the cynical and jaded detective Aurelio Zen, who seemed to be despatched from Rome to a different part of Italy in each book. I suppose that I was in part won over by the unusual setting being (both then and now) woefully ignorant of Italy, and at the time Zen himself seemed an exotic character.

    Coming back to it now, I found Ratking (the novel in which Zen made his debut) very irritating. The characters are all totally implausible (and, without exception, utterly objectionable) and the plot is wafer thin.

    My principal response now ids to think how hardy and committed my younger self must have been to persevere not only through this rather weak and disappointing book, but also through several of its successors. But now I am left wondering whether it was a case of having more literary staying power, or simply less critical judgement then than now.

  • Campbell

    I need to re-read these in order to be able to say something more coherent than 'Zen is a great character, you should read these books'. Realistically, that's not going to happen. But you should take my advice, nonetheless :)

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