Lovesey, Peter. Upon a Dark Night.

NY: Mysterious Press, 1997.

Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond of Bath — “the murder man,” as he describes himself — has been almost too successful. There hasn’t been enough serious crime lately and his blood pressure is up for lack of intellectual exercise. His rival, DCI Wigfull, has the apparent suicide by shotgun of an aged, reclusive farmer to look into, and Diamond wonders what the odds are that it might really be a murder.

Then a young woman dies in a fall from the roof of the landmark Royal Crescent, and Diamond goes to check that out, too; maybe she was pushed. At the same time, another young woman is found injured in a hospital parking lot and is also suffering from complete amnesia (which in real life is extremely rare and might actually be impossible to the extent it’s described here, Hollywood and popular fiction notwithstanding). This last victim (as Diamond decides she must be) is soon identified by a sister but then she suddenly goes missing. Fortunately for her, but unfortunately for the police, she has a loud, pushy advocate in the form of a serial shoplifter from the hostel where she was staying temporarily. All these cases begin gradually to merge, though it takes awhile for even Diamond to realize it, and the result is a pretty good police procedural. Lovesey has mellowed his protagonist out quite a bit since the first book in the series, when Diamond was so demanding and abusive toward everyone around him, it was hard to believe he had ever reached his present rank. And, in fact, he lost his job for two years before managing a return. He’s still a clichéd example of sexism and technological illiteracy, though, which sometimes gets in the way of the story. But the author is strong on plotting, which saves the book.

Published in: on 17 August 2014 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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