cover image Upon a Dark Night

Upon a Dark Night

Peter Lovesey / Author Mysterious Press $22.5 (374p) ISBN 978-

For long stretches of the narrative, Bath's most cantankerous copper, outsized Peter Diamond, barely registers in the action as he investigates two deaths: a lonely old farmer sticks a shotgun under his chin and fires; and, at a wild party, a girl falls from the roof of a building. The dead girl is missing a shoe, and Diamond soon theorizes that the farmer's arms were too short to have pulled the trigger. Unknown to Diamond, the key to the two kills is an amnesiac woman found injured in a hospital parking lot. A shoplifter named Ada names her Rose and befriends her. Ada is able to stop a young man who tries to abduct Rose but then reluctantly releases Rose to a woman claiming to be her sister. Not fully convinced, the crusty shoplifter gives a skeptical Diamond an earful. Odd holes dug in the old farmer's yard indicate treasure hunting. One of the foursome who gave the ill-fated party is a hunter. The farmer's daughter is missing, and the German woman living at the hostel with Ada is revealed as the owner of the missing shoe. Lovesey (Bloodhounds, etc.) is a past master of the traditional crime novel. His clues are artfully placed, and Diamond is a believably flawed soul, sexist and impulsive, yet essentially good-hearted. Such a tangled plot would snare an author of less skill, but Lovesey maintains virtuosic control and delivers an unmistakable highlight in a long career already well-garlanded with awards and acclaim. (Apr.)