Skeleton Hill

Peter Lovesey, Author . Soho Crime $24 (326p) ISBN 978-1-56947-598-0

Silver Dagger Award–winner Lovesey's 10th Peter Diamond investigation (after 2007's The Secret Hangman ) may offer a less intricate plot and more procedural work than usual, but Diamond remains one of the most realistic and human of fictional sleuths. During a recreation of an English Civil War battle outside Bath, Rupert Hope, an academic who's playing a cavalier, and another participant discover a human femur. Presented with this minor puzzle, the police eventually unearth the entire skeleton, minus the skull. After someone bludgeons Hope to death, Diamond wonders whether Hope's murder and the headless skeleton are connected, and his team redoubles their efforts to identify it. A zipper found near the skeleton may point to a link with London's Russian community. While some readers will anticipate the solution with little trouble, sharp prose and characterization make this another winner in this enduring series. (Sept.)