Beau Death (Peter Diamond Mystery) by Peter Lovesey

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Beau Death (Peter Diamond Mystery) by Peter Lovesey

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An expertly crafted police procedural, which is heavy on historical background but which has a twist which I didn't see coming.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: December 2017
Publisher: Sphere
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0751570687

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Children love wrecking balls, so the young lad wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to watch one hit a building through one of those very tempting holes in fencing which you find around building sites. The problem was that when the dust settled a skeleton, sitting in an armchair and clad in clothes which looked to be a few hundred years old, was visible in the loft of the half-demolished building. The lad's father ceased his explanations about kinetic energy and hurried the boy away. Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond was not so lucky. Viewing the corpse from a cherry picker, an unfortunate adjustment to the controls left him eye to, er, eye socket with the corpse and the picture was caught by a press photographer. It was too good not to go viral.

One of the mysteries of Bath is the whereabouts of the burial place of one of its most famous residents, Beau Nash, and it wasn't long before there was speculation that this was the final resting place of the man who had become known as the King of Bath. Even Diamond's CID team took the idea seriously, with the Assistant Chief Constable insisting that Diamond investigate the death. Time (and another death) mean that resources had to be diverted elsewhere, but somehow Beau Nash refused to be ignored.

Peter Lovesey has crafted this novel perfectly: it's heavy on historical background, but Lovesey manages to stay just on the right side of it being too much. I learned a great deal about Beau Nash, but it was done with a reasonably light touch and I didn't feel that I was being educated, not least because the background was essential to the plot. And what a cracker of a plot it was: I had someone inked in as the murderer (and as the corpse, for that matter), but was completely wrong despite there being several clues which I'd missed.

The characters are good. The computer-illiterate Diamond comes off the page well, as do his CID team but I was a little disappointed in Georgina, the Assistant Chief Constable, who seemed a little wishy-washy for someone of that rank. It's a minor quibble though. I don't know Bath other than as a casual visitor about half a century ago, but people who do know the city feel that it's brought to life brilliantly in this series.

It's many years since I last read a Peter Diamond mystery, so this was effectively a standalone for me: I never felt that I was adrift from the story and have no hesitation in recommending that it could be read as a standalone.

As well as reading the book I listened to an audio recording (which I bought myself) narrated by Peter Wickham. His range of voices is excellent and I was never in any doubt about which character I was hearing. This was my first experience of listening to an audiobook narrated by Wickham, but I would be delighted to hear more from him. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag. We've a review of another Peter Diamond mystery here.

If this book appeals to you then you will probably enjoy the D I Tom Thorne series by Mark Billingham. This is the latest in the series.

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