PC Harry Tasker (no, not Schwarzeneggar’s character from True Lies) is on patrol, walking up the street. The next moment, he is lying dead, shot in the head. The Somerset Sniper has claimed his third victim. He soon almost claims his fourth policeman, as the duty inspector on the scene is attacked and left for dead. Enter Peter Diamond, head of CID in Bath. But he’s not the top man on the case – hampered by some gung-ho colleagues, can he track down the ruthless killer and stop more needless deaths?
I’ve had a bit of a funny history with Peter Lovesey’s work. I loved Bloodhounds, quite liked Stagestruck and admired, but didn’t particularly enjoy, The Last Detective. As for The False Inspector Dew, I probably need to look at it again sometime. But something keeps bringing me back – I know, deep down, that I ought to enjoy his work more frequently that I do. So when Tony at Formby Books suggested this one to me, I decided that it was time for another try. So… what’s the state of play with this one?
Characters, first of all. I really like Diamond and his team. It’s rare to see a police team in fiction without a weak link, but I enjoyed the disparate members of this group. The story mostly focuses on Diamond and his liaising with the other police departments – notably the abrasive Chief Super Gull, who does provide plenty of conflict – and the story moves along very nicely. In fact, the book is a real page-turner, as the plot keeps moving in a number of different directions.
There’s one particular strand that I found very enjoyable… but unfortunately I can’t mention it without giving something away. Lovesey takes one strand that you expect to develop into something very important, only for it to become completely irrelevant.
There are only a few variants on the serial killer/whodunit plots, but Lovesey still manages to spring a surprise – the penny dropped at the point that it was supposed to, and it’s a clever set-up.
The only issue I had was with the blog segments. First of all, I’m pretty sure there aren’t many blogs whose entries are that long. On a more serious point – it really doesn’t make much sense. I can’t say any more without massively spoiling things, but the in-story rationale really made little sense to me.
But I’m glad to say that despite this, I really enjoyed this book. A good, twisting mystery that keeps you reading. Recommended.
I enjoyed this review. I have been meaning to get back to this series for years. Have only read the first one. But I do want to read some of the earlier ones.
Bloodhounds is still probably the best. Fairly early, I think, but a cracking read.
I really liked this one. For much of the novel I shared your criticism of the blog posts, but Lovesey turned around and did something unexpected with it, so I sheepishly concede the round to him.
Apart from that, I thought it was terrific. A lot of thrilling scenes where you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen next (but you have a feeling Diamond won’t be putting it on his resume) And I also liked that this-must-be-important strand which ends up leading nowhere. Seems we’re pretty much in agreement over this book.
Well, the point of the posts is unexpected, but didn’t make any sense to me – unless it was supposed to simply make a policeman who is intuitive enough to spot the relevance in the first place (which is in itself a massive leap) then spend a lot of time running round in circles looking for a ghost. That’s as much as I can say without spoiling things, I think…
But that aside, a great mystery/thriller. Looking forward to the next one.
“The only issue I had was with the blog segments. First of all, I’m pretty sure there aren’t many blogs whose entries are that long.”
I don’t know, some of my blog entries are getting awfully long (winded?)! 😉
Lovesey has a new one coming out soon and I understand will have another coming out next year. Looks good if you like Diamonds!
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