Peter Diamond's tenth case is a perfect piece of superbly entertaining crime fiction from a master of the genre.
Battle and burial are built into the history of Lansdown Hill, so it is no great shock when part of a skeleton is unearthed there. But Peter Diamond, Bath's Head of CID, can't ignore the fresh corpse found close to the folly known as Beckford's Tower. The hill becomes the setting for one of the most puzzling cases he has investigated, involving golf, horseracing, Civil War re-enactment and the Cyrillic alphabet.
Inevitably, Diamond butts heads with the group of vigilantes who call themselves the Lansdown Society, discovering in the process that his boss Georgina is a member. She resolves to sideline Diamond by sending him to Bristol and handing the skeleton investigation to his deputy, Keith Halliwell. Fortunately matters don't pan out as Georgina plans...
Silver Dagger Award winner Lovesey's 10th Peter Diamond investigation (after 2007's The Secret Hangman) may offer a less intricate plot and more procedural work than usual, but Diamond remains one of the most realistic and human of fictional sleuths. During a recreation of an English Civil War battle outside Bath, Rupert Hope, an academic who's playing a cavalier, and another participant discover a human femur. Presented with this minor puzzle, the police eventually unearth the entire skeleton, minus the skull. After someone bludgeons Hope to death, Diamond wonders whether Hope's murder and the headless skeleton are connected, and his team redoubles their efforts to identify it. A zipper found near the skeleton may point to a link with London's Russian community. While some readers will anticipate the solution with little trouble, sharp prose and characterization make this another winner in this enduring series.
Excellent offering from skilled writer
Peter Lovesey is a fine mystery writer. After the success of his Victorian detective duo Cribb and Thackeray he moved on to Bertie the Prince of Wales and then introduced Peter Diamond a modern day detective.
This latest offering in the Diamond series is nicely plotted - a hallmark of Lovesey books - and makes excellent use of the settings in and around Bath. The solution is ingenious, though I did manage to work it out before the dénouement.
If you are a fan of well written, well plotted and engaging detective fiction then Skeleton Hill is well worth reading.
Hopefully it won't be too long before more of Lovesey's books are available in ebook format in the UK.