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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Another One Goes Tonight by Peter Lovesey

Soho Crime, 400 pages, $27.95

“Another One Goes Tonight” is the latest in the Peter Diamond series. I still find it strange that the author should choose to give his creation his own name, but I stubbornly refuse to Google why. Some mysteries, however small, are more interesting in the not knowing.

Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond is the head of the CID in Bath, England. In this latest strange and twisted tale, he is assisted by Keith Halliwell and Ingeborg Smith, annoyingly querulous detectives but loyal when it counts. (I’m trying to remember if there were any vital elements they added to the story, so I can dismiss them summarily. I’m sure they were needed, so I retract the mean-spirited previous comment. But why is Halliwell so named, while Ingeborg is never Smith? Okay, I'm done complaining about them.)

A police officer is killed in an early morning traffic accident. Fortuitously as he investigates the accident site many hours later, Diamond finds the body of a man tossed on an embankment, along with his unusual tricycle. Diamond administers CPR and saves his life, at least for now.

In the process of finding out the identity of the man, now in a coma, Diamond stumbles upon what might be a series of murders. The basis for this belief is tenuous. The “victims” are mostly old and proceeded gently into that good night by seemingly natural events, at least according to the various doctors who signed the death certificates.

A few of the dead were aficionados of steam trains and their appurtenances. One of them was quite wealthy and it came to light that he suspected someone was stealing from him. Diamond ties it to some designer gowns he finds secreted in the comatose man’s locked workroom. Diamond cannot bring official notice to bear upon his mystery because all the evidence he initially obtains is obtained illegally.

Diamond himself is not a totally likable character. Technologically challenged and passive-aggressive about it, not always empathetic, blunt, eccentric, and adamant about doing things his way, Diamond is at war against the criminal element and his own administrative structure. Until his inevitable aha! moment, Diamond totters around throwing red herrings (and red whales) here and there.

The story was interesting and satisfyingly complicated, but I can’t forgive the miscreant for giving up the confessional ghost quite so quickly. On the one hand, of course, it fulfills a mystery reader’s ultimate ambition to understand the who-why-howdunnit. On the other, it should be like pulling especially cantankerous teeth to get someone to cough up all the pertinent details of the crime.

I enjoy the slightly sly British humor. For instance, 
Diamond urging any driver to put their foot down was as unlikely as him taking to the stage at Covent Garden in the pas de deux from Le Corsaire.
I enjoyed this Diamond as I have enjoyed the other Diamonds I’ve read; just had to whinge about the jarring notes.

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