Saturday, February 28, 2009
Dirty Tricks is an intelligent tale of greed and deceit by Michael Dibden. I've read Dibden's Aurelio Zen Italian detective novels and liked them so I grabbed this cheap paperback from a remainder bin and immediately sat down to read, prepared to be entertained - and I was.
The protagonist is a pallid anglo version of one of Michel Houellebecq's amoral and detestable characters. Also like a Houllebecq character the trajectory of his life parallels the socio-economic curve. He is a forty-something teacher of English as a second language who has returned to Oxford after years abroad, lives in student-type digs and is dissatisfied with the life he has made for himself. He both envies and detests those who are more successful than he yet lack taste and class. Almost accidentally he gets sucked into the vortex of a group of striving bean counters. Adultery, murder and revenge ensue. Dirty Tricks is included on the Guardian's list of 1000 must reads and it deserves to be there. Regrettfully Dibden died two years ago at 60 years of age so there'll be no more of his crime fiction to look forward to.