Aurelio Zen

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Aurelio Zen
First appearance Ratking
Last appearance End Games
Created by Michael Dibdin
Portrayed by Rufus Sewell
Gender Male
Occupation Police detective
Nationality Italian

Aurelio Zen is a fictional Italian detective created by the British crime writer Michael Dibdin.


The first of the stories, Ratking, won the 'Gold Dagger' award of 1988. This series of detective novels provide a penetrating insight into the less visible aspects of Italian society over the last twenty years. The earlier books have a lightness of touch that gradually becomes much darker. The character of Zen himself is anti-heroic, which adds much to the books' irony and black humour. Dibdin died in 2007, shortly after finishing the last book in the series, End Games, which appeared posthumously in July 2007.


Erratic, emotional and all too human, Zen negotiates the constantly shifting political terrain of both his job and his country through the 1990s and into the new century.

Middle aged[1] and already somewhat jaded when we first meet him, he has had a long career in the State Police and is in a relatively senior position. Unafraid to employ radical and even downright underhand methods when he feels them appropriate, Zen struggles to manage the competing demands of his aged mother, his girlfriend and his job, sometimes accepting an assignment simply to escape from domestic pressures. Heart mostly in the right place, he does his best to make sense of whatever confronts him.

Books in series[edit]

Television adaptation[edit]

Main article: Zen (TV series)

BBC Scotland and Left Bank Pictures produced three feature-length dramas based on the books. The series was filmed on location in Rome during 2010 and was broadcast in January 2011. It has since been axed by the BBC after just one series but the producers hoped to make further adaptations for another broadcaster.[2] English actor Rufus Sewell starred in the lead role; Italian actress Caterina Murino played Tania Moretti, with the dialogue in English.[2]


  1. ^ He is introduced in Ratking, the first book in the series, as appearing around 50. The TV series includes dialog indicating he is approaching 40.
  2. ^ a b Conlan, Tara (22 February 2011). "BBC1 axes Rufus Sewell detective drama Zen". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 

External links[edit]