Saturday, February 6, 2016

Diamond Dust

Pick it up, put it down, pick it up, it sticks.  That was my experience with Diamond Dust, the seventh novel in Peter Lovesey's Peter Diamond series.  Diamond Dust was part of my big purchase from Soho Press right before Christmas.  I had intended to get the second book in the series, Diamond Solitaire, but ordered wrong.  Given that I dislike reading series out of sequence, and that I didn't adore The Last Detective (and had completely forgotten about Down Among the Dead Men) I grumped about with this a bit, starting and then stopping.  In the end, I'm glad I started again.

Peter Diamond, of the Bath (England) CID, is your standard grouchy, I-did-it-my-way, occasionally self-destructive and occasionally brilliant detective.  Sort of a more mature and therefore somewhat less obnoxious Danny Reagan from "Blue Bloods."  He's had a long career in Bahhth with the requisite ups and downs, presumably chronicled in the novels between The Last Detective and this one.  I still don't particularly like Diamond.  I don't find bull-headedness appealing, especially when it seems mostly used to further the plot, and other than that, he's surprisingly one-dimensional for someone with so many years experience.

THAT SAID.  I did ultimately quite enjoy Diamond Dust, Diamond himself notwithstanding.  The plot here seems simple:  Diamond's wife is murdered, and he may not be involved in the investigation.  He's also considered a suspect which, I suppose understandably, pisses him off.  So, he runs his own parallel, stripped-down investigation, angering the officials and occasionally blundering into trouble.  There is another plot thread about a diamond heist that doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything until pretty late in the story.  How it all sorts out I'll leave for you to find out.

What's great here is the way Lovesey twists the murder plot, just as it seems to stall.  The turns occasionally feel a bit too serendipitous, but who knows, maybe that is how police work goes - 10% effort 90% luck or some such sage saying.  You might suss out the intersection of the two plots earlier, or you might think, as I did, why did we spend so much time developing that aspect of that plot, was it because there really wasn't anything going on in the other one?  But by then you'll be caught in it and reading to see if the killer will ever be discovered.

I did have an inkling of whodunit, but then I decided (as I'm sure Lovesey wanted) nah, can't be . . . .

If I liked Diamond better, I might go back and look at more of this series.  Might anyway, it is not a bad way to pass 30 minutes on the stationery bike every day.

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