On the 50th anniversary of the publication of his first novel, Peter Lovesey, Mystery Writers of America Grand Master and titan of the British detective novel, returns to the subject of his very first mystery—running.
Through a particularly ill-fated series of events, couch potato Maeve Kelly, an elementary school teacher whose mother always assured her “curvy” girls shouldn’t waste their time trying to be fit, has been forced to sign up for the Other Half, Bath’s springtime half marathon. The training is brutal, but she must disprove her mother and collect pledges for her aunt’s beloved charity. What Maeve doesn’t know is just how vicious some of the other runners are.
Meanwhile, Detective Peter Diamond is tasked with crowd control on the raucous day of the race—and catches sight of a violent criminal he put away a decade ago, and who very much seems to be up to his old tricks now that he is paroled. Diamond’s hackles are already up when he learns that one of the runners never crossed the finish line and disappeared without a trace. Was Diamond a spectator to murder?
MWA Grand Master Lovesey's masterly, atmospheric 19th investigation for Bath, England, Det. Supt. Peter Diamond (after 2019's Killing with Confetti) finds primary school teacher Maeve Kelly in training for a charity half-marathon that's months away. Her troubles begin when a school colleague gives her a Toby jug in return for a British Heart Foundation baseball cap she gave him. She doesn't like the jug, which she accidentally breaks on her way to donate it to a thrift shop. Wracked with guilt after discovering the jug's value, Maeve pledges sponsorship monies from the race to the BHF. In a later, more unsettling incident, she rescues runner Olga Ivanov from an apparent mugging. The day of the marathon, Diamond, who's in charge of crowd control, thinks he spots a killer known as the Finisher, a sexual predator he put away 12 years earlier. Diamond fears the worst after a runner goes missing. The tension rises as Diamond chases the Finisher into the underground labyrinthine quarries near the route of the marathon. Lovesey neatly ties together all the disparate threads as the plot twists and turns to its taut conclusion. On the 50th anniversary of the publication of his first novel, Lovesey is still going strong.
Slow start, blistering pace to end
Peter Lovesey’s books are always beautifully written, so it’s a pleasure to start out. At first, it isn’t clear where the story is heading, and it takes a while for the characters and milieux to take shape. But it’s a sprint from the midpoint on, and all the pieces fall into place. More or less. As in most of the Peter Diamond books, the characters are varied, fully formed (and full-formed), and some are funny and charming.