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A FULL RICH DEATH – “The best mystery ever.”

October 7, 2010

A Full Rich Death

by Michael Dibdin

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

 204 pages, $12 

This is an astonishing book that will leave you reeling. On the cover is a blurb by Ruth Rendell claiming, “Dibdin has a gift for shocking the unshockable reader.” That is dangerous because it gets us imagining all of the farfetched possibilities. But then wham! Something we not only didn’t anticipate, but a surprise that makes new sense of the whole book including the title. Each chapter, and especially the last few pages, will take your breath away. 

This is a period mystery in which Robert Browning is presented as an aspiring young Sherlock Holmes; but Booth, his Watson-like sidekick, has some real doubts about his would-be idol (as well as coveting the poet’s mistress). Listen to the sensual language that enriches each layer of this tale: 

Then the lightning—as bodiless as moonlight, though far intenser than the sun—suffused the scene again, and I saw that the figure was Beatrice, as naked as Eve. The torrential rain blowing in through the window, which she had gone to shut, had sprayed her shoulders and bosom, and the skin gleamed like polished bronze. 

“The English are dying too much,” a Florentine police chief observes, as the narrator becomes embedded in a murderous plot mirroring Dante’s Inferno. From which only we, the readers, will emerge (though not unscathed).

         To order this directly from amazon

         click: A Rich Full Death

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