Lovesey, Peter. Stagestruck.

NY: Soho Press, 2011.

This is the 11th outing for Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond of Bath CID and in certain ways, it’s one of the best yet. The background to the story this time is the city’s 200-year-old Theater Royal, in which Lovesey obviously has a personal interest.

A pop music star beginning the long slide from the peak of her career has been recruited to play the lead in a dramatic production on the grounds that, even if she isn’t likely to be much of an actress, her legions of fans will guarantee a good gate for the theater. The old pros with whom she will share the stage are realists about finances — but then, on stage on opening night, she begins to scream. Her makeup has caused serious burns to her face and she’s carried off to the hospital.

Even though it’s not a murder, Diamond is sent in to investigate the apparent attack (his boss has hopes of being chosen for a role in an upcoming amateur production), but it doesn’t take long before the obvious suspect — the dresser who made the star up that evening — is found dead backstage. Maybe it’s a suicide, but maybe it isn’t. And then things begin to get complicated.

At the very beginning, we’re introduced to Uniformed Sergeant Horatio “Fred” Dawkins, who has been trying to get himself into CID, and who is also the amateur theater’s choreographer. Again, Diamond’s boss likes him so the Super is stuck with him as an assistant. He’s a PITA but he does seem to have a brain and makes some useful suggestions, so maybe he’s not all bad, even though most of the regular CID crew would like to strangle him.

This plotline didn’t exactly go where I was expecting it to and I was rather caught off guard by developments late in the story. That’s the mark of a good mystery.

Published in: on 10 October 2015 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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