Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Review: "The Summons" by Peter Lovesey


The Summons
by Peter Lovesey
Soho Crime, 2004


Peter Lovesey’s third Peter Diamond detective novel, The Summons—originally published in 1995 by Mysterious Press—is a first-rate, inventive, traditional mystery with a credible cast of suspects set in the lovely tourist town of Bath, England. Peter Diamond, formerly Superintendent Diamond of the Bath Constabulary, is living a humdrum life with his wife in a squalid basement apartment in London after quitting his job leading Bath’s murder squad. Diamond works part time recovering shopping carts from a grocery store parking lot and money is something he vaguely remembers from when he had a proper salary. Things are bad enough that he is considering a job baring his considerable girth as a nude model for extra dosh.
     Diamond’s mostly quiet desperation is unsettled when a pair of Bath police officers arrive at his door demanding he return to Bath with them. They give him little incentive since they don’t give him a whiff at the why except it concerns his nemesis, Assistant Chief Constable Tott. When he gets on site, he learns Tott’s daughter has been kidnapped by an escaped convict Diamond put away for murdering a Swedish journalist four years earlier. The convict proclaims his innocence and demands Diamond review the investigation again before he will return Tott’s daughter.
     The Summons is a marvelously entertaining murder mystery with enough action to keep the narrative lively, including some gunplay and real risk to Diamond’s health, and more than enough detection to satisfy even the snobbiest reader. And most unpretentiousness readers, too, including a dolt like me. Diamond is a rare treat: self-absorbed (but trying to be better), anti-technology, clever, and funny. The supporting cast are an eclectic bunch of oddballs—a crowd of hippies called “crusties” squatting around town—eccentrics, an obese photographer-turned-baker, stiff-upper-lip-types, millionaires (at least one), and braggarts. Diamond is a bloodhound as he questions his original investigation and then pursues the killer against what appears to be his own best interest. And the denouement is a blissful surprise, and even better, a surprise that makes perfect sense.

Click here for the Kindle edition and here for the audiobook at Amazon.

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