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by Peter Lovesey
Soho Crime, October 2021
336 pages
ISBN: 1641293128

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

For the past fifty years – you read correctly – British author Peter Lovesey has been captivating readers with forty-plus crime novels. Along the way he has picked up multiple Edgar, Dagger, and Macavity nominations or awards, along with Dilys and Anthony Awards, for best novels of the year. As well as having chaired the Crime Writers Association Lovesey has received Lifetime Achievement awards in both the US and the UK. His work shows astonishing range, spanning settings from Victorian times to the present, and encompassing traditional puzzles (Abracadaver), comic pastiches (Bertie and the Seven Bodies) and dark thrillers (Rough Cider).

In his most recent work, Diamond and the Eye, Bath Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond responds to a break-in at a local antiques shop. The owner, one Septimus Hubbard, has gone missing, and a week later his daughter Ruby is growing increasingly concerned.

Diamond is very much a traditional police detective, and not one easily given to change; so he is bemused to find that Ruby has hired a private detective to help locate her father. And not just any private detective: an especially brash – and to Diamond's mind, offensive – gumshoe in the classic American mold. His name is Johnny Getz. The motto on his business card reads “Getz Results.” Not the sort of thing to impress the stolid and methodical Diamond.

Following the break-in the shop had been taped off by the police. The trio enters a week later to determine whether there is any clue to Ruby's father's disappearance. Before long they discover a body, concealed in an Egyptian coffin and overlooked in the earlier (and cursory) search of the premises. Significantly, the body is not that of the missing shop-owner.

The case takes on new urgency when Ruby is shot and winds up in hospital. Hoping to piggy-back on the police investigation, Johnny Getz tries his best to insinuate himself into the case, and Diamond is faced with fending him off, along with Lady Bede, a local member of the nobility who is a member of the police ethics committee. A woman with an overactive libido, it grows increasingly unclear whether Lady Bede is interested primarily in the conduct of the case or in Diamond himself.

I always look forward to the latest Peter Lovesey novel, and DIAMOND AND THE EYE fully lived up to my expectations. He has great fun juxtaposing the very different styles of Diamond and his flatfoot nemesis, assigning them alternating chapters marked by differing narrative voices. Thus we are treated to Johnny Getz's first-person description of his client Ruby:

"…She was in a long black dress more fishnet than fabric, matching tights and shiny pointed shoes….Velvet choker studded with jet beads. Murderous dark-rimmed eyes and purple lips like she'd just emerged from the bat-cave. What was all this in aid of? The last time we met she was dressed like Daddy's little helper."

So pastiche it is: a send-up, rather than simply a respectful homage to the gumshoe genre. Yet clearly a labour of love for its well-read author. Readers will enjoy the duel between the brash PI and his more prosaic alter ego, Detective Superintendent Diamond, as well as a cracking plot that has its own version of the much-sought-after Maltese Falcon.

§ In addition to being a reviewer with over six hundred reviews to his credit, Jim Napier is the author of Legacy and Ridley's War, in the British-based Colin McDermott mystery series.

Reviewed by Jim Napier, September 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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