THIS IS A GRAND STORY of old-school police procedural proportions, a murder mystery which employs the same dedication and precision as the runners in training for the Bath Half Marathon. The build-up is firm and steady, the plot delivers survival tactics, and every likely and unlikely event is taken into consideration.
MOST OF THE GROUNDING for this solid piece of deduction has to do with Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond of Bath’s Criminal Investigations Department. I can’t say Diamond is all that loveable, and he gets himself into trouble on the odd occasion, but he’s a great character to drape a story around.
DIAMOND HAS A GIRLFRIEND Paloma and when they are together I get a midsomer murder ‘Shakespeare and Hathaway’ vibe. Diamond is aided and abetted by two sensible police officers, Keith Halliwell and Ingeborg Smith, and annoyed by Assistant Chief Constable Georgina Dallymore. Like any good whodunnit, there’s a crusty forensic pathologist Dr Sealy and a number of important characters woven into the story.
I AM NOT BIG on writing synopses because I figure that a potential reader can get any amount of reviews online which offer insights into this ingenious plot. Suffice to say that the Bath Half Marathon is an absolutely huge running event held in UK and literally thousands of people from all walks of life compete each year for charity. On this occasion, a murder takes place and Diamond has to find the body before he can make an arrest. Actually there are two murders but this is where it gets tricky…
AUTHOR PETER LOVESEY has given the reader several suspects to choose from and they are all plausible. Some of the characters include Spiro and Murat part of the modern-day slave trade, Maeve Kelly primary school teacher, sleazy Tony Pinto, and wife of Russian oligarch Olga Ivanova, taking part in the Bath Half Marathon for wildly different reasons.
I HAD A MASSIVE claustrophobia attack: the hills where the race is run has hundreds of old tunnels and underground quarries. I haven’t felt that bad since I read ‘The Chalk Pit’ a Ruth Galloway mystery by Elly Griffiths. Cruelly, Lovesey did not spare my nerves.
THE BOOK TITLE is apt in various ways, and apart from showcasing beautiful Bath, there are techie things like micro-chipped runners and aerial drones. However, Lovesey does say that the route he mapped out is not the one followed by real runners. He has never run the marathon but as an author and sports writer he cleverly captures the mood and excitement of the event.
I MAY NOT SAY ‘Where are my running shoes?’ but with at least seventeen other novels in the Peter Diamond series, I am going to start my own reading marathon.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Peter (Harmer) Lovesey (born 1936), also known by his pen name Peter Lear, is a British writer of historical and contemporary detective novels and short stories. His best-known series characters are Sergeant Daniel Cribb, a Victorian-era police detective based in London, and Peter Diamond, a modern-day police detective in Bath.
Peter Lovesey lives near Chichester UK and was a teacher/lecturer before he turned to full-time writing. In 2020 he celebrates 50 years as an author and ironically in 1970 his first prize-winning novel was ‘Wobble to Death’ where a bizarre six-day endurance race takes place in 1880s London. His son Phil Lovesey also writes crime novels.
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