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5.0 out of 5 starsNever Too Late
Reviewed in the United States on October 13, 2019
A lifelong devotee of detective novels, I somehow missed Peter Lovesey, a British master of the genere who has won most of the top mystery writing awards in the U.S. and U.K. Lovesey's magnum opus is a long-running series featuring Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond, a working man's Sherlock Holmes with a dogged, brilliantly imaginative way of getting to the truth about some of the most devilishly confounding murders ever put on page. A few months ago, I stumbled upon the first in th series, "The Last Detective," and proceeded to compulsively devour the next 17 in a row. Lovesey, now an octogenarian, is of the old school that values patient puzzle-solving over quick and dirty action. Most of the stories are set in elegant Georgian Bath, which allows Diamond to prowl the city's underbelly as relentlessly as he probes the habits of such historic residents as Jane Austen and Beau Nash. Diamond's team of subordinate sleuths is almost as winning as the cranky, unexpectedly vulnerable superintendent himself. (Only Diamond's starchy boss, Georgina Dallymore, who is unerringly wrong about every suspect, comes close to comic caricature.) The stories flow as easily as an expertly made martini, laced with a dash of bitters. Dry English humor competes with genuine tragedy. But the addictive draw are the plots, each one daringly different from the one before, most of them opening with an offbeat bang and ending with a revelation you're not likely to see coming. There's not a clinker in the bunch, though to my mind the standouts are the superb opener, "The Last Detective," "The Summons," "Diamond Dust," "The House Sitter," and - at the top of my list - "The Tooth Tattoo," which must be the greatest novel, mystery or not, about the inner workings of a classical string quartet.
Reviewed in the United States on September 17, 2016
Great fun to read the first in the Peter Diamond series after jumping forward to read "Cop to Corpse." Diamond is stubborn and somewhat singular minded, but cares more about justice than about being right--once he gets over his ego.
The murder-mystery was tight and greatly twisted with a victim you didn't like very much, but still cared about who killed her and the bigger question: Why?
All the characters are fully rounded except for Diamond's wife, Stephanie. She's nothing but a walk on/walk off as needed. We learn very little about her. Even when Diamond is in the hospital, she doesn't even make an appearance. All that was odd, but since she wasn't essential to the story, okay.
The writing is smooth and transitions well and I'm looking forward to conquering the entire series.
Note: Do wish writer's wouldn't use "God D***." It's offensive.
Reviewed in the United States on September 16, 2019
Is there such a thing as a light murder mystery? If so, this would be a good example. I wasn't prepared to love it. It's a selection for my book club, so required reading. However, I found it very readable and enjoyable. The characters were interesting, and Detective Diamond was likeable and had some depth. I would recommend this to anyone wanting an entertaining read.
5.0 out of 5 starsA wonderful debut for DS Diamond
Reviewed in the United States on September 1, 2009
First Sentence: A man stood thigh-deep in water, motionless, absorbed, unaware of what was drifting towards him.
A naked woman is found dead. The first challenging is determining her cause of death; the second is finding out who she is. Eventually the identity is known and an obvious suspect presents itself. Or does it?
While the justice system is determined to convict their suspect, Diamond is so certain they are wrong, he makes an important personal decision that alters his life but not his determination to find real killer.
I loved the description of Diamond: "You're the end of an era. The last detective. A genuine gumshoe, not some lad out of police school with a degree in computer studies." I like that, in a technological age, he is something of a luddite and believes in traditional investigative techniques.
At the same time, I liked the contract between Diamond and Wigfull. For some reason, I was surprised that Diamond is married but loved the story of how he met his wife and felt his being so was a nice, unexpected surprise as it gives the character added dimension.
There is wonderful, subtle humor to the story, particularly around the Jane Austen exhibit. I laughed at the idea of it and found myself agreeing with Diamond's view on venerating authors or any celebrity.
The best part of the story, for me, was the plot. There was twist upon twist. It never felt contrived and I certainly was never able to accurately predict where the plot was going. This was a wonderful book and I've already ordered the next four in the series.
THE LAST DETECTIVE (Pol Proc-DS Peter Diamond-England-Cont) - Ex Lovesey, Peter - 1st in series SoHo Crime, 2003, US Hardcover (reprint) - ISBN 978-1569472095
2.0 out of 5 starsThis book, Lovesy's first Peter Diamond mystery, was so-so
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2020
The only interesting character was unfortunately a minor one. The hero, grossly fat, not-too-bright, and rather charmless, would not have inspired me to look for a sequel. The other characters were shallow and predictable. And yet Lovesy has just released the 19th novel in this series. Either he got a LOT BETTER, or I am out of step with his readers.
4.0 out of 5 starsTerrific Series Lead-off -- Compelling, Witty, and Touching
Reviewed in the United States on January 2, 2021
A friend recommended the Peter Diamond novels, and I am so glad that she did! This is a terrific crime novel, full of surprises, witty, and compellingly readable. And the characters are affecting and interesting in their own right, not the cardboard people who so often populate puzzles. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
4.0 out of 5 starsWarm Up to an Unlikeable Detective!
Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2017
An unlikeable detective who grows on you as you read the story. Was hooked about halfway through, and will read more with the same character. The story is told in segments in an unusual first person way, so it's not just a crime procedural from one clue to the next. Twisty plot with multiple threads kept me reading.
4.0 out of 5 starsgood page turner, though initially unlikeable main character
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 5, 2017
This was quite a good murder mystery set in modern day Bath (well, actually set in the early 1990s when it was written), another novel I was inspired to read on my stay last week. The plot was intricate with a number of twists and turns and, of course, red herrings, after a woman's naked body is found in a lake outside the city. The final solution was not revealed until the very end, and I didn't find it too plausible, but this was a good page turner, with a gripping trial scene towards the end. The eponymous character is DI Peter Diamond, an old style detective distrustful of computers and modern innovations such as genetic fingerprinting (still very new in the early 1990s) and, less understandably, with outdated views on domestic violence that show he doesn't see it as a crime, but as a matter purely for social workers. He came across as a rather unlikeable figure, though he mellowed and became more human and three dimensional after he was taken off the case (such a cop novel/TV show cliche!) and helped solve the case through his independent actions. The Bath connection was reinforced by the discovery of two lost letters written by Jane Austen which played an important part in the plot resolution, though I understand subsequent novels in the series are set elsewhere, so I'm not sure if I'll read them, as I'm not a great reader of contemporary (or relatively modern) crime novels, unless they have some hook of being set in a place in which I have a particular interest.
4.0 out of 5 starsOld fashioned, but enjoyable detective story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 27, 2016
I bought this to read on holiday, and it fitted the bill almost perfectly. An entertaining and concise style of writing, laced with dry humour, a reasonably intricate plot cleverly revealed, and atmospheric locations in Bath and its surroundings. The courtroom denouement was a tad improbable, but not enough to spoil the experience. I'm not a huge fan of stories that change point of view, as I prefer a straight narrative, but the device worked well enough in this case, as it changed from third person police procedural to first person accounts from two of the prime suspects, before reverting to third person for the climax. My biggest issue, though, was with the lead character, Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond. He's old school, as indicated by the title, hates new technology (which when this was written meant VDU terminals and calculators), overweight, and has a brusque, overbearing manner with a quick temper and a cynical outlook. He's smart enough, but no Sherlock Holmes. Frankly there isn't much to like about him, so I didn't find myself on his side as he spent as much time feuding with by-the-book colleagues and superiors and railing against the imposition of technology he chose not to understand, as solving the crime. Otherwise it is a well-constructed and fluent story to while away a few hours by the pool.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 11, 2015
The Last Detective is the first novel I have read by Mr Lovesey. It concerns the police investigation lead by Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond into the assumed murder of an unknown woman found floating in a lake. Murder is assumed because she is naked and her clothes are missing but there is no obvious cause of death. Although only written 25 years ago there is an old fashioned feel to this novel. Diamond mistrusts modern technology including computers and forensics which seems quaint nowadays given how successful they are in modern day policing and prefers old fashioned policing, shoe leather and interviews. The thing that really sticks out, however, is the lack of phone records which we take for granted as it would have made tracing the victim's contacts so much easier. I can't say I warmed to any of the characters who are all fairly unlikeable. I include Peter Diamond in this as he seems overbearing and contradictory - it seems ok for him to fixate on a suspect but not his deputy, Inspector Wignell. This is a well constructed novel which unusually allows the suspects to narrate events in their own voice. I'm not so sure of the plot which seems a little contrived to me. I can't really give examples of this without issuing spoilers but it all seems too coincidental. Nevertheless it held my attention and kept me reading to see where it was going.
This is the first Peter Diamond novel and the only one I have read. I live in Bath where it's set and found the locations familiar, but Diamond is certainly not a character one warms to and his rather rude manner is irritating. His methods and dislike of any use of new technology don't seem to get him very effective results, and his successes are more by luck and the help of good colleagues. Quite well written and so easy to read. I may try the next one in the series, but won't rush.
3.0 out of 5 starsNot sure I'll be reading the next.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 11, 2017
I had not read a Peter Lovesey book for ages and had missed this series entirely. He tells a very good story but it is spoiled by some very iffy police procedures, a very convenient confession in court and a trite ending - for such a capable and intelligent perpetrator not to realise there was no evidence against is silly. I quite like the irascible Detective Superintendent but what about his pension?!