In the early hours of the morning, an incident demands Peter Diamond assume a new role in the force – that of investigating professional standards. A police car crash kills the driver and seriously injures the passenger, but when Diamond investigates the scene, he finds another victim, thrown from the crash onto the embankment. Thanks to Diamond’s quick thinking, Victor Pelligrini is rushed to hospital, fighting for life in a coma.
But why was Pelligrini, a pensioner on a motorised tricycle dressed like Sherlock Holmes, out at that time of day? Why was he carrying a cremation urn? As Diamond investigates, he comes to a worrying theory – is it possible that he has saved the life of a serial killer?
I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while – I’ve enjoyed the Peter Diamond series from Peter Lovesey. Some more than others, true, but he is one of those authors who is always determined to do something new with the genre and while the central characters remain the same, the situations they are placed in are more varied than most series.
The structure of this one isn’t one of my favourites, I’ll be honest. As most of the people involved in the many, many not-that-suspicious deaths are… well, dead, it is basically a cold case investigation, with Diamond’s somewhat unofficial investigation consisting primarily of theorising with his colleagues.
Regardless, it’s an enjoyable read that I think I would have relished significantly more if I wasn’t suffering from a stinking cold meaning that I had to put the book down every few pages. There are some wonderful sequences – Diamond interrogating an organised crime boss over this case while the boss is panicking that Diamond knows about an entirely different murder that he did commit stands out – and the resolution is very well done. The link between Diamond and Pelligrini is also nicely detailed – the tie between people when one has saved the others life, and the fact they are both widowers helps to blur Diamond’s thinking.
As the mystery revolves primarily over what exactly Pelligrini has and hasn’t done, there was an obvious concern as to whether the story could be tied up in an interesting way, and I’m pleased to say that Lovesey achieves this with aplomb, with some careful clueing, although Diamond seems to pull an awful lot of threads together all in one go after groping around in the dark for a good while.
Probably not the strongest of the Diamond tales – I think that’s, of those that I’ve read, Upon A Dark Night – but as ever, a clever, enjoyable police procedural with a fully realised lead character. Book sixteen of the series and still going strong. Definitely Worth Your Time.