Peter Diamond investigates a mystery of the past in the seventeenth case for the brilliant Bath detective.
A wrecking ball crashes through the roof of a terraced cottage in Bath and exposes a skeleton in eighteenth-century clothes. Can these possibly be the remains of Beau Nash, the so-called King of Bath, whose body is said to have ended up in a pauper's grave?
Peter Diamond, the city's most experienced detective, is ordered to investigate, but grappling with historical events causes ructions in his team until everyone is diverted by a modern killing during a fireworks display on the Royal Crescent lawn.
But Beau Nash refuses to be ignored - and when astonishing new facts emerge about the case, Bath's history is rewritten and mysteries ancient and modern are fused in a devastating climax.
Det. Supt. Peter Diamond has a very cold case to crack in Edgar-finalist Lovesey's fine 17th novel featuring the Bath police detective (after 2016's Another One Goes Tonight). The demolition of a condemned house reveals a gruesome find in the attic: a male skeleton, dressed in 18th-century clothes and seated in a chair. Despite the age of the remains, Diamond's officious boss, Asst. Chief Constable Georgina Dallymore, insists that he devote his team's resources to investigating the circumstances of the man's death. The corpse's garb suggests that it might belong to Beau Nash, a legendary local rake, who became known as the King of Bath after a suspicious death in a duel elevated him to the position of master of ceremonies for the city's Vegas-like entertainment and gaming. The prospect of identifying the cause of Nash's death almost three centuries earlier is daunting, and the stakes rise when the autopsy shows that the dead man was fatally stabbed. The plot is one of Lovesey's cleverest, and the book is full of his trademark wry humor.