Monday, July 22, 2013

The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey

Normally, I read my mystery stories at bedtime. I sometimes lose track of the characters and the action - I tend to nod off - but that doesn't spoil my enjoyment each evening. I can usually quickly catch up on what is happening.

I was so enthralled with The Last Detective (1991) by Peter Lovesey, though, that I kept reading it during the day so I could keep up with the clues. 

Mr. Lovesey is an award-winning British author who has written quite a few mystery series - Sergeant Cribb (made into a TV series); Victorian mysteries featuring the Prince of Wales; and, some stand alone puzzlers as well. This is the first of his books that I've read.

The Last Detective introduces Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond. When a woman's body is found floating in a lake, the only identifying characteristic is her long red hair. Eventually
her identity comes to light and all sorts of characters become suspects in the eyes of DS Diamond and his new partner, John Wigfull, whom he doesn't really trust.

The action takes place in the early 1990s in Bath. DS Diamond, is in his forties, is a bit pudgy, and doesn't trust the computers and scientists that have taken over honest-to-goodness detective work that he so believes in. "There's a danger in surrendering to technology," he tells his chief.

One of the suspects, the dead woman's husband, is a professor of English at Bath University. He was in charge of assembling an exhibition of Jane Austen, to celebrate her time in Bath, that opened the same weekend that his wife was killed. Part of the mystery revolves around the disappearance of two letters supposedly written by Jane to her aunt. 

All this was so in keeping with my Jane Austen Festival weekend.

I liked Mr. Lovesey's writing style. Nothing too graphic, the location in Bath (which I have visited), and the Jane Austen references, not to mention a great puzzle, made for a pleasant read. I am glad to have made DS Peter Diamond's acquaintance and look forward to seeing what he is up to in the second book, Diamond Solitaire.

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