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Peter Diamond, British detective extraordinaire, must dig deep into Bath history to ferret out the secrets of one of its most famous (and scandalous) icons: Richard “Beau” Nash, who might be the victim of a centuries old murder.
Bath, England: A wrecking crew is demolishing a row of townhouses in order to build a grocery store when they uncover a skeleton in one of the attics. The dead man is wearing authentic 1760s garb and on the floor next to it is a white tricorn hat—the ostentatious signature accessory of Beau Nash, one of Bath’s most famous historical men-about-town, a fashion icon and incurable rake who, some say, ended up in a pauper’s grave. Or did the Beau actually end up in a townhouse attic? The Beau Nash Society will be all in a tizzy when the truth is revealed to them.
Superintendent Peter Diamond, who has been assigned to identify the remains, starts making discoveries that turn Nash scholarship on its ear. But one of his constables is stubbornly insisting the corpse can’t be Nash’s—the non-believer threatens to spoil Diamond’s favorite theory, especially when he offers some pretty irrefutable evidence. Is Diamond on a historical goose chase? Should he actually be investigating a much more modern murder?
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.