Lovesey, Peter. The Summons.

NY: Mysterious Press, 1995.

Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond of Bath was an old-fashioned sort of copper. Not a bobby-on-the-village-green type, certainly, but he solved cases through careful, plodding investigation, with a specialty in interviewing witnesses and suspects. Besides, he’s terrible with any technology more complex than shoelaces, and he was always quick to point out to colleagues just how unreliable computers are.

None of that matters much these days, though, because Diamond is actually an ex-superintendent, having been sacked for his rougher methods — or resigned in a huff, actually, but the result was the same. He’s been getting by, barely, on short-term jobs in London for two years now while his wife works at Oxfam and whatever else she can find.

But then two CID men show up at the door of the Diamonds’ basement flat late one night, insisting he accompany them back to Bath, where his ex-superior, the Assistant Chief Constable, needs him urgently. A man named Mountjoy, whom Diamond had put away for murder a few years before, has escaped from Albany Prison and has taken the ACC’s daughter hostage. Mountjoy insists on talking to Diamond. And when the now civilian Diamond agrees, Mountjoy demands the detective reopen the murder investigation that put him in prison.

The very circumstances — the escapee returning to Bath like that instead of fleeing the country — give Diamond pause. And so he begins poking into leads that weren’t followed up, possible witnesses and other sources of information who weren’t interviewed, since Mountjoy had already been arrested and charged in what seemed a watertight case. Diamond hates thinking he might have made a grave mistake, but he absolutely refuses to lie to himself about it. If it was his fault Mountjoy was put away unjustly, then he will see that justice is done, no matter the damage to the police or to his own reputation. And maybe he can work things so as to get his old job back, too.

This is the third novel in this series (though Lovesey has done a number of other detective series and numerous independent novels), and it’s a considerable improvement on the first one and even the second. As he was portrayed at the beginning, the grossly overweight Diamond came across as an out-and-out bully, personally loathed by everyone in his department even while they respected his results. Today, twenty years later, someone like Diamond wouldn’t have the slightest chance of ever rising to the rank of superintendent; he probably would have been thrown out before he got to sergeant. Lovesey has mellowed him down, though. He’s still caustic and irascible but he’s also more willing to listen to others, including the female DI who assists him this time. And the stories certainly benefit from the change. I’ll keep following the adventures of DS Diamond.

Published in: on 2 December 2013 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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