Peter Lovesey Books: July 2021

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SOMEONE IS KNOCKING ON YOUR DOOR!

Th wait is over! DIAMOND AND THE EYE, the new Peter Diamond novel, is now published in the UK by Sphere. The American edition follows on October 12 from Soho Press.

READ OF THE MONTH

In this twentieth novel of the series, Diamond is having a quiet drink in his favourite watering-place, the Francis, in Bath, and has his peace shattered by of all things, a private eye. 

‘Mind if I join you?’

Peter Diamond’s toes curled.

There’s no escape when you’re wedged into your favourite armchair in the corner of the lounge bar at the Francis observing the last rites of an exhausting week keeping a cap on crime. Tankard in hand, your third pint an inch from your mouth, you want to be left alone.

The stranger’s voice was throaty, the accent faux American from a grainy black-and-white film a lifetime ago. This Bogart impersonator was plainly as English as a cricket bat. His face wasn’t Bogart’s and he wasn’t talking through tobacco smoke, but he held a cocktail stick between two fingers as if it was a cigarette. Some years the wrong side of forty, he was dressed in a pale grey suit and floral shirt open at the neck to display a miniature magnifying glass on a leather cord.

‘Depends,’ Diamond said.

‘On what?’

‘Should I know you?’

‘No reason you should, bud.’

No one called Diamond ‘bud’. He’d have said so, but the soundtrack had already moved on.

‘I got your number. You’re the top gumshoe in this one-horse town and you’re here in the bar Friday nights when you’re not tied up on a case. What’s your poison? I’ll get you another.’

‘Don’t bother.’ Diamond wasn’t getting suckered into getting lumbered with a bar-room bore who called him bud and claimed to have got his number.

‘You’ll need something strong when you hear what I have to say.’ The bore pulled up a chair and the voice became even more husky. ‘Good to meet you, any road. I’m Johnny Getz, the private eye.’

‘Say that again, the last part.’

‘Private eye.’

Against all the evidence that this was a send-up, Diamond had to hear more. ‘Private eye? I thought they went out with Dick Tracy.’

‘Dick Tracy was a cop.’

‘Sam Spade, then. We’re talking private detectives, are we? I didn’t know we had one in Bath.’

‘What do you mean – “one”? I could name at least six others. The difference is they’re corporate. I’m the real deal. I work alone.’

‘Where?’

‘Over the hairdresser’s in Kingsmead Square.’ An address that lacked something compared to a seedy San Francisco side-street, which was probably why the self-styled private eye added, ‘The Shear Amazing Sleuth. Like it?’

Diamond isn’t amused. And Johnny Getz isn’t going away. He involves Diamond in a missing father case that quickly becomes a murder inquiry. The partnership of private eye and police detective is unlikely and uncomfortable, but Diamond is forced to work with this fantasist who is inspired by the classic American PI novels. Shootings from a drive-by gunman at key players turn the peaceful city of Bath into something akin to the mean streets of Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles. Diamond’s problems mount when he is put on watch by Lady Bede, from the police ethics committee, who turns out to be a man-hunter.

Diamond and the Eye is the READ OF THE MONTH choice by the Crime Readers’ Association and you can click on the link to learn how the idea for the novel dawned on Peter and was developed into an action-packed plot: https://www.thecra.co.uk

There’s more. In one of the latest postings at Shotsmag, Diamond puts his author through the grinder for giving him such a bad time: http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/feature_view.aspx?FEATURE_ID=465

PRE-PUBLICATION REVIEWS OF DIAMOND AND THE EYE

The pre-publication responses are good.

Booklist gives it a starred review and Don Crinklaw writes: ‘Glory be! British crime novelist Lovesey is back, bringing along his beloved series hero, the grumpy, darkly funny and – beneath it all – strictly business Peter Diamond, detective inspector with the Bath constabulary. It’s all here: mystery, sparky writing and a cast of characters who come alive on the page, moving through a tricky plot that we know is playing us for suckers. And we love it.’

In The Times, Mark Sanderson writes: ‘Stone the crows! It’s 30 years since Peter Diamond made his debut in the award-winning The Last Detective (1991). Now a detective superintendent – still luxuriating in a lovely Bath – his 20th investigation forces him into a reluctant collaboration with Johnny Getz, a private eye whose office is above a hairdressers called Shear Amazing. A dealer in antiques has gone missing. Unfortunately, he is soon found dead in an Egyptian coffin, prompting the wisecracking Getz to quip: “No mummy, for sure, but I had a nasty feeling he was someone’s daddy.” As this suggests, Peter Lovesey writes feel-good crime yet he never lets the comedy vitiate the mystery.’

I hope you enjoy this one. Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet caught up with the previous book in the series, you can read The Finisher in paperback from Sphere and Soho Press.

THE CRITICS’ VERDICT ON THE FINISHER

‘In a peerlessly plotted mystery, Lovesey brings back his prickly rule-abhoring detective, Peter Diamond of the Bath police, who’s investigating a murder at a half-marathon. As readers who love the Diamond series know, the picture-perfect old British city, honeycombed with sluices, drains and sewers, offers unrivaled facilities for disposing of bodies. “The light and dark imagery is a fixture of Bath novels,” Marilyn Stasio writes in her crime column, “in which life is lived on many levels, some in full sunshine and others buried in shadow.’ Gregory Cowles in The New York Times

‘MWA Grand Master Lovesey’s masterly, atmospheric 19th investigation for Bath, England, Det Supt Peter Diamond . . . Lovesey neatly ties together all the disparate threads as the plot twists and turns to its taut conclusion. On the 50th anniversary of the publication of his first novel, Lovesey is still going strong.’ Publishers Weekly (starred review)

‘It is 50 years since Lovesey’s first novel, which also featured running. British mystery fiction’s reigning head of state returns to that sporting setting with his customary wit, humanity and unpredictable turns of plot.’ Mat Coward in The Morning Star

‘Threaded through this elegantly written mystery are vivid and timely subplots concerning Russian oligarchs and Albanian fugitives from modern slavery gangs. Peter Lovesey may now be in his 80s, but he tells his tale with all the verve and wit of a much younger man.’ Myles McWeeney in The Irish Independent

‘A witty, steadily absorbing procedural marked by Lovesey’s customary inventiveness and an unguessable solution.’ Kirkus Reviews

‘There’s a deeply satisfying symmetry in Peter Lovesey’s The Finisher, bringing the prolific and much-honored British writer’s 50-year career full circle by echoing his debut. His witty, low-key police detective, D.S. Peter Diamond, is leading security for a charity race, the Other Half, in his home city of Bath. . . . Throughout, Diamond remains his usual appealing self, and Lovesey retains his knack for tight plotting and supple prose.’ Adam Woog in The Seattle Times

‘Lovesey’s mystery fans will be sorry when The Finisher is over . . . On the 50th anniversary of his first novel, the British writer has created a brisk, colorful page-turner centered on mayhem at the springtime half-marathon in the city of Bath . . . Mr Lovesey’s descriptive passages will have armchair explorers champing at the bit.’ Robert Croan in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

‘I came away impressed by the storytelling, the relative pace of the plot and of the frequent twists and turns that made this a compelling read.’ Malavika Praseed in the Chicago Review of Books

‘This is a story firmly set in the present day (or at least the immediate pre-pandemic present day!), but Peter Lovesey’s storytelling skills, and certainly his gift for constructing a fair-play puzzle, match those of the finest exponents of Golden Age fiction.’ Martin Edwards in Do You Write Under Your Own Name?

‘Lovesey brilliantly weaves all these disparate characters and storylines into a wonderfully entertaining and compelling story. His work is the gold standard for UK crime fiction writing.’ George Easter in Deadly Pleasures

‘There are those among us who would read Lovesey if he took to writing on the backs of cereal boxes. Blessedly, that hasn’t happened. Instead, we have the nineteenth novel featuring His Grumpiness, Detective Inspector Peter Diamond of the Bath Constabulary. All the signature elements of this acclaimed series are present: the gin-dry humor, the engaging characters, the ending that kills you before you know you’re dead. . . . Slowly, but with relentless pacing and magical writing – a rusty hinge “groans like a soul in torment” – the plotlines converge. Surprises abound, like the corpse with a mind of its own. Lovesey likes to tease his detective, describing him as “out of a ’40s film, a sleuth on the trail of Sidney Greenstreet.” But the finale reminds us that Diamond is a relentless, hard-edged, strictly business copper.’ Don Crinklaw in Booklist (starred review)

That’s all for now, but look out for another newsletter in October when Diamond and the Eye goes on sale in America and there will be news of a new collection of short stories. Details of all the previous books can be seen at my website, peterlovesey.com

Thanks for reading this. I’ll close the gate as I leave.

Peter