In the fifth of the Aurelio Zen series, Zen finds himself in Naples, in disgrace - and having the time of his life. Corrupt politicians, shady business men and eminent mafiosi are disappearing off the streets at an alarming rate, but Zen's commitment to his work is at an all-time low.
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Aurelio Zen (Dead Lagoon, 1995, etc.) has bailed out of the Rome Questura one jump ahead of a hardship posting, preempting his inevitable exile by requesting assignment to the port detachment at Naples, which seems like a sleepy enough place for him to bide his time till his fortunes improve. In order to do a favor for a new acquaintance, the widow Valeria Squillace, and to enliven his new posting, he arranges for her marriageable daughters, Orestina and Filomena, to be whisked off to London while he dangles a pair of eager prostitutes under the noses of their highly unsuitable suitors, Gesualdo Troise and Sabatino Capuozzo (whence the Mozartean title). Little does Zen realize how deeply implicated Gesualdo and Sabatino are in a rash of assassinations engineered by the Strade Pulite (Clean Streets), an enterprising group of terrorists disguised as garbage men. For that matter, he has no idea that the American ensign his men are holding in jail for assault - a man who's neither American nor an ensign - has uncomfortably close ties to the Strade Pulite as well. The background is sinister, and there's a substantial body count, but the tone is brightly farcical, even before Zen's stolen police identification becomes a deliciously absurd red herring. As in the best fames, practically everybody, including Zen, turns out to be in disguise - though the outrageous variety of masquerades ranges far beyond anything Mozart ever thought of. (Kirkus Reviews)