Monday, October 25, 2021

The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey


Peter Diamond has a murder to solve.  A woman's body has been found, nude, floating in a nearby lake.  There is no identity.  Diamond is a relative newcomer to the District, having been transferred after a former suspect was found innocent and suspicions that the suspect's confession had been coerced.  Now Diamond is in the smaller district of Bath and he isn't a comfortable fit.  Most of the police force was born and raised in the district and not sure about the newcomer.

After several days, the body is identified.  It is Gerry Snoo, known to the public for her character in a long-running BBC production but written out of the story two years before..  She had married local college professor Greg Jackman but the marriage isn't working out.  Gerry has her own circle of friends, a hard partying set.  Jackman is consumed with putting on a Jane Austen exhibition featuring her time residing in Bath and doesn't even notice his wife is missing for several weeks.

Diamond is an old fashioned detective.  He sneers at the technology available.  He believes that computers may be fast to compute but until someone has the time to do the data entry, unusable.  Forensic science holds lots of answers but the reality is that the tests take days or even weeks to get back.  The successful detective finds a way to get into the head of the suspect and find out the truth by getting a confession.  

It turns out that there are many possible motives.  Drugs seem to play a large part in Gerry's life and her entire personality had changed since her marriage.  There was a suspicious fire at the residence that Jackman claims was an attempt on his life.  There are previously undiscovered letters from Jane Austen that are valuable and missing.  Some believe that another woman had fallen in love with Jackman and sees Gerry as a rival.  Can Diamond cut through the fog and solve the mystery?

This is the first novel in the Diamond series which is currently at twenty novels.  Diamond is not a likeable figure but he would be the first to tell you that being likeable is not his job.  Although written as a fairly recent novel, the entire book has an old fashioned feel about it.  As a technology professional, it was engaging to see Diamond's diatribes against technology.  This book won an Edgar when it was released and is recommended for mystery readers.

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