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Dibdin was born in Wolverhampton, in the West Midlands of England. The son of a physicist, he was brought up from the age of seven in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, where he attended the Friends' School, a Quaker voluntary grammar school. He graduated with a degree in English from Sussex University, and then went to study for a Master's degree at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.
Dibdin is best known for his Aurelio Zen mysteries, set in Italy. The first of these, 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 20 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. A final Zen book, End Games, appeared posthumously in July 2007.
He also wrote other detective works set in America and in England.
Later he lived in Seattle, Washington.
Dibdin was married three times, most recently to the novelist K. K. Beck. He died on 30 March 2007, in Seattle, following a short illness.
Aurelio Zen series
- Ratking (1989)
- Vendetta (1991)
- Cabal (1992)
- Dead Lagoon (1994)
- Cosi Fan Tutti (1996)
- A Long Finish (1998)
- Blood Rain (1999)
- And Then You Die (2002)
- Medusa (2003)
- Back to Bologna (2005)
- End Games (2007)
- The Last Sherlock Holmes Story (1978)
- A Rich Full Death (1986)
- The Tryst (1989)
- Dirty Tricks (1991)
- The Dying of the Light (1993)
- Dark Spectre (1995) ISBN 0-571-17523-6
- Michael Dibdin at British Council: Literature
- BBC obituary
- Daily Telegraph obituary
- Guardian obituary
- January Magazine Interview: Michael Dibdin
- BBC Programme page: Zen
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