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.