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COP TO CORPSE
by Peter Lovesey
Sphere, April 2012
352 pages
19.99 GBP
ISBN: 1847445713


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I'm not a fan of the growing trend of using the present tense in crime novels, nor am I a lover of prologues, so a book with a present tense prologue had to work quite hard indeed to keep me on board. It succeeded mainly as a result of the strong central premise of police officers on the beat being picked off by a sniper. I also liked the setting, as Bath and Somerset are areas I know well, so it's actually quite surprising that I haven't made Peter Diamond's acquaintance before.

When the third police officer is killed, determination to hunt down the sniper is high, but some avenues of investigation bring Diamond into conflict with his colleagues who are unwilling to even consider the possibility that the killer might be one of their own. Diamond is not a man to back away from conflict, nor does he court easy popularity. He comes over as a reasonably old school copper, one who's prepared to graft and make sure others do the same.

Apart from the prologue itself, which was stylistically an odd fit with the rest of the narrative, the book has several long sections that also seemed out of keeping with the rest of the book. A different type-face and a blog-style of story-telling introduces a sub-plot that for me simply didn't work. Mysterious detours in the hands of an unknown narrator are a difficult way to keep readers engaged and I did come close to bailing out whenever these occurred. In plot terms, even with hindsight, their value was dubious, to say the least.

That aside, Lovesey's hunt for the killer amidst the highways and byways of both Bath and the Somerset countryside provided some solid police work to overcome the parts of the narrative that grated the most, and I'm interested enough in Diamond, a policeman out of the same mould as the likes of Jack Frost, to keep an eye out for him in future and maybe even to delve into Lovesey's back catalogue.

Linda Wilson is a writer, and retired solicitor, with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, April 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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