Peter Diamond, head of Bath CID, takes a city break in Vienna, where his favorite film, The Third Man, was set, but everything goes wrong, and his companion, Paloma, calls a halt to their relationship. Meanwhile, strange things are happening to jobbing musician Mel Farran, who finds himself scouted by methods closer to the spy world than the concert platform. The chance of joining a once-famous string quartet in a residency at Bath Spa University is too tempting for Mel to refuse. Then a body is found in the city canal, and the only clue to the dead woman’s identity is the tattoo of a music note on one of her teeth. For Diamond, who wouldn’t know a Stradivarius from a French horn, the investigation is his most demanding ever. Three mysterious deaths need to be probed while his own personal life is in free fall.
© Peter Lovesey (P)2013 AudioGO
Bath, England's head homicide detective, Peter Diamond, isn't known for his interest in anything other than work, a pint and a pie. His girlfriend, Paloma, has to pull out all the stops to get him to take a weekend tourist trip to Vienna, tempting him by reminding him that it's the setting for his favorite film, The Third Man. A somber note is introduced when they come across the scene of an impromptu memorial to a young, Japanese woman found dead in the Danube canal; an apparent suicide.
Back home in Bath, Diamond's team is called in to investigate when another young Asian woman is found dead in a local canal. One of the very few clues to her identity is a "tooth tattoo" of a musical quaver, or eighth note, on her incisor. This musical connection brings the investigation to interview the members of the Staccati String Quartet, who are in residence in Bath.
The quartet's story is a parallel plot thread. The members are irascible first violin Ivan; earth mother and queen of the double entendre, cellist Kat; music-obsessed autistic, second violin Anthony; and new violist, Mel Farran. Mel is new because his predecessor, Harry, disappeared several years earlier in Budapest, when the group was on a central European tour, and is presumed dead.
Strange events in Mel's past, a mysterious new patron, and what looks to be a stalker put a dark cloud over Mel's joy at becoming a member of the prestigious quartet and collaborating with them at a higher musical level than he's ever known. The two plot threads--the quartet's story and Diamond's investigation--intertwine, as Diamond delves into the quartet's history to try to find out if there might be a connection between the two women's deaths, and maybe even Harry's disappearance. This history is complex and presents many avenues for exploration; there are even some subtle allusions to The Third Man in Diamond's quest for answers.
Unfortunately, the complexity of the plot unravels suddenly and leads to a fairly disappointing resolution. I can't say more without spoilers.
I've been a fan of Peter Lovesey's work since his first mystery, Wobble to Death, way back in 1970. The Peter Diamond series blends the best of old-fashioned fair-play mystery with the modern police procedural. I appreciate that Lovesey hasn't fallen into the ultra-violent and serial killer plots that have become so prevalent. He sticks to more realistic murders, which are explained by human emotions and circumstances, which I find far more satisfying---even if, in this particular case, I was underwhelmed by the conclusion.
I wouldn't recommend this as one of Lovesey's better efforts, but it won't prevent me from continuing to read Lovesey books as soon as they come out and recommending him to anyone who enjoys fair-play mysteries and low-violence police procedurals.
ABOUT THE READER: I was disappointed in Clive Anderson's performance. He had a mushy tone and didn't enunciate clearly, though his enunciation improved. He had odd hesitations in his dialog reading for almost all the characters, but especially the Mel Farran character. I thought he read Farran as being too hesitant and wimpy for the ladies' man Lovesey describes him as being. And the reading of the Kat character was awful. In the book, she's given to frequent double entendres and teasing, but Anderson voices her as some sort of nonstop Mae West, but with an absurdly deep, husky voice.
I enjoy Peter Lovesey mysteries; this story may not be his best but still held my attention. However, I really missed Simon Prebble - who captures Diamond and his team's voices perfectly.
I've been reading and enjoying Peter Lovesey novels since the 1970's. This one is very good, but I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I have earlier Peter Diamond stories.
There are some rather long and detailed passages about string quartet music and performance. I don't have a keen interest in classical music or string quartets, so I tended to be a little disinterested in these portions of the book.
Peter Diamond is an interesting character for me. He's cranky and closed minded about some things, yet I still like him. Maybe that's because as I get older, I find I'm a little more cranky and closed minded myself.
Though it wasn't quite as satisfying for me as earlier Peter Diamond stories have been, I still believe it is a very good book. It's a solid police procedural. It does not include excessive, graphic descriptions of violence.
I am a book junkie. Read to me.
I'm guessing -- I'm hoping -- it was only that Simon Prebble was committed to another project for them to have brought in Clive Anderson to read this. Please make it a temporary replacement. Anderson, flat and painfully slow and slurry, can't measure up to Prebble's crisp voice work in the other Diamond novels. Dialogue exchanges here feel like walking against a current; too many pauses and weird intonations. Anderson is especially bad with women. One in particular, as another reviewer noted, he reads with an inexplicably low drawl, yet she is written to be a witty, savvy Irishwoman--she should have a bright, quick way of speaking. I found myself dreading it every time that character wandered back into the story.
As for the story, it needed an editor. There are several spots in the narrative where information is needlessly repeated. For example, we are told four or five times that top musicians are able to play priceless instruments because they get them on long-term loan from wealthy benefactors. I noticed several repetitions of certain information, but I can't list them without revealing too much of the mystery. There are other flaws in the storytelling. At one point, Diamond confronts a character with a "oh you know about that, do you?" when only a few chapters earlier Diamond was present when the character learned the fact. Some threads started at the top of the novel dangle neglected at the end. None of these are deal-breakers, but together they're indicative of sloppy writing in what should be a tight detective story. It's atypical of Lovesey, who is usually more careful. He was off his game here.
Say something about yourself!
This title isn't listed in the Peter Diamond Series even though it is, not sure why the oversight on the part of Audible. This is a good story and I wasn't sure who the killer was until very near the end. The only negative for me was the change in the narrator. I have come to expect Simon Prebble as the narrator and the change to Clive Anderson was REALLY difficult to endure. I just didn't care for Mr. Anderson's narration style. However, that shouldn't detract from the story but for me it did. I found it a challenge to stay focused on the characters and the story due to the narration. No criticism for Mr. Lovesey who provided an excellent plot and a wealth of information about string quartets.
I have really enjoyed these Peter Diamond books . I was a bit hesitant about this one because of some other reviews and the publishers description. I thought the action would take place in Vienna but it is mostly set on Diamonds patch in Bath. This has turned out to be one of my favorite books by Peter lovesey his knowledge of the workings of string quartets is very comprehensive, I learnt a lot! I just wish they had kept the same narrator although once the book started I got used to his voice.
Tell us about yourself!
I have listened to all of this series available at Audible. However, this is probably the most disappointing.
I always hesitate to discuss the plot as I dislike spoilers. Do read the publisher's summary. Although thorough in character and murder case development, the story seems to just plod along. There are many components and at least 6 possible perpetrators. I had identified the guilty party long before the reveal. If you are an action and violence junky then this probably isn't for you.
Next, the narrator is new to the series. His interpretations of some characters is ok, some bland, and one is just plain odd. The narration can be distracting at times, but is adequate the majority of the listen.
If you are a Diamond fan, then this is a decent listen. If you are new to the series, you might be wise to pick another episode.
Peter Lovesey knows lots about music. Even better, he can describe its rich complexities with enough skill to make the reader hear it. I really enjoyed this book, which is an adequate mystery but a wonderful tale.
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