A unidentified body is found floating in a lake near Bath. Enter Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond, newly moved to Bath following an inquiry (in which he was exonerated) for misconduct during an interrogation at the Met. Diamond is a traditional policeman with a habit of rubbing some people – usually his colleagues – up the wrong way, but now that he is faced with the biggest puzzle of his career, can he rise to the challenge of being The Last Detective – the last of a dying breed of genuine sleuths? Or is this mystery one step too far for him?
Ah, Peter Lovesey. This is the fourth review of his work that I’ve done – see also The False Inspector Dew, Bloodhounds and Stagestruck, the last two also featuring Diamond. So far, I’ve yet to settle on an opinion for his work. Will this be the book to make my mind up, one way or the other?
Um… nope. Still undecided.
Let’s take the positives first – and there are many. Diamond is a pretty well thought out character with a well-constructed background. It’s interesting to contrast him to the character in the later books, where he has gathered a team together and seems at home in Bath. Here, he’s very much a loner, not completely trusting the people around him. And his personal story takes a very interesting turn about halfway through the book.
In fact the structure of the book itself is very interesting. What starts off as a police procedural takes a surprising left turn for the second and fourth acts, shedding some interesting light onto the story that would otherwise be lacking.
So what’s my problem with it? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure.
The plot is well structured narratively, but, to be honest, I found it a little on the dull side. Despite the many deviations in the story, at the end of the day, it’s not the most interesting mystery ever, and there’s not exactly a large list of suspects knocking around. And for something billing itself as The Last Detective, there didn’t seem to be many clues knocking around for the final reveal.
The thing is, I can see that this is a very well-written mystery novel. I can see why other people like it so much. But for some reason, I didn’t particularly enjoy reading it. Not an uncommon occurrence at the moment – I’m still busy with the start of term, only able to read in small bursts, rather than in prolonged chunks. I think I need a really great book to kick-start the habit again. So apologies if the next few reviews (oh, with one exception soon) are for the old reliables that always populate my blog. I might even have to resort to reading the last Athelstan book… Wish me luck.