Vendetta: An Aurelio Zen Mystery

Vendetta: An Aurelio Zen Mystery by Michael Dibdin Read Free Book Online

Book: Vendetta: An Aurelio Zen Mystery by Michael Dibdin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michael Dibdin
younger than him and married.
    “I don’t care what your dealer told you,” Vincenzo Fabri proclaimed loudly. “Until a gearbox has done a hundred thousand kilometres—under on-road conditions, not on some test track in Turin—not even Agnelli himself knows how it’s going to hold up.”
    “What do I care?” retorted Travaglini. “With the discount I’m getting, I can drive it until the warranty runs out and still break even on the trade-in. That’s a year’s free motoring.”
    “Would you do me a favour?” Tania whispered hurriedly.
    “Of course.”
    “You don’t know what it is yet.”
    “It doesn’t matter.”
    He saw nothing wild or extravagant in this claim, which represented the simple truth. But as she turned away with a disconcerted look, he realised that it had sounded all wrong, either too gushing or too casual.
    “Forget it,” she told him, disappearing through a gap in the screens like an actor leaving the stage.
    Zen sat there taking in her absence with a sharp pain he’d forgotten about, the kind that comes with love you don’t ask for or even necessarily want, but which finds you out. It was normal to suffer like this in one’s youth, of course, but what had he done to deserve such a fate at his age?
    He tore open the memorandum she had brought him.
F ROM : D OGLIOTTI , A SSISTANT R EGISTRAR , A RCHIVES .
T O : Z ENO , V ICE -Q UESTORE , P OLIZIA C RIMINALE .
S UBJECT : 46429 BUR 433/K/95 (V IDEO CASSETTE, ONE ).
Y OU ARE REQUESTED TO RETURN THE ABOVE ITEM AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE SINCE IT IS _________________________.
    In the blank space, someone had scrawled an illegible phrase.
    Zen stuffed the memorandum into his pocket with a weary sigh. He had been so concerned about the large-scale repercussions if the tape fell into the wrong hands that he had completely forgotten the immediate problems involved. The Ministry’s copy of the Burolo video was of course just that, a copy, the original being retained by the magistrates in Nuoro. Technically speaking, its loss was no more than an inconvenience, but that didn’t mean that Zen could just drop down to Archives and tell them what had happened. In theory, official files could only be taken out of the Ministry with a written exeat permit signed by the relevant departmental head. In practice no one took the slightest notice of this, but the moment anything went wrong, the letter of the law would be strictly applied.
    Once again, Zen turned to the task in hand as an escape from these problems. The next section of the report was considerably less straightforward than the one he had just written. While the facts of the Burolo case were simple enough, the interpretations which could be placed on them were political dynamite. Zen’s completed report would be stored in the Ministry’s central database, accessible by anyone with the appropriate terminal and codeword, his views and conclusions electronically enshrined forever. At least he didn’t have to deal with the dreaded glowing screens himself! The use of computers was spreading inexorably through the various law enforcement agencies, although the dream of a unified electronic data pool had faded with the discovery that the systems chosen by the Carabinieri and the police were incompatible both with each other and with the quite different system used by the judiciary. It was a sign of their elite status that those Criminalpol officials who wished to do so had been allowed to retain their battered manual Olivettis with the curvy fifties styling that was now fashionable again.
    Zen lit another of the coarse-flavoured domestic Nazionali cigarettes, looked up at the rectangular tiles of the suspended ceiling for inspiration, then began to pound the keys again.
B ECAUSE OF THE EXCEPTIONAL DIFFICULTY OF UNAUTHORISED ACCESS TO THE VILLA, THE NUMBER OF SUSPECTS WAS EXTREMELY LIMITED . N EVERTHELESS, FIVE POSSIBILITIES HAVE AT VARIOUS TIMES BEEN CONSIDERED WORTHY OF INVESTIGATION . T HE FIRST,

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