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Monday, 14 April 2014

‘The Tooth Tattoo’ by Peter Lovesey

Published by Sphere,
13 February 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-7515-5060-3

Out of work classical musician Mel Farran is thrilled when he's chosen to join the Staccati, a string quartet of great renown, filling a vacancy created by the disappearance of a former member four years ago. With a residency in Bath, he settles into a life of rehearsal, private concerts and one-to-one tuition with young students, as well as getting to know his new colleagues.

When the body of a young Japanese woman is found drowned, suspicion turns to the music world as the police discover that she was an ardent fan of string quartets. Then the police learn that another young Japanese woman who adored classical music died in similar circumstances in Vienna some years earlier - when the Staccati were performing there. By a horrible coincidence, Mel was there with another orchestra as well, so he cannot be ruled out as a suspect even though he was not with the Staccati at the time.

Both the police and the musicians are shocked when the missing member of the Staccati appears after a four year absence, sharing outrageous stories of the Japanese mafia, kidnap and torture. Before they can question him further, he is found dead. Presumed suicide, the forensic evidence proves it was murder and suspicion regarding the Staccati deepens...

The author weaves a clever tale that draws together the threads of private and public life into a seamless, if fortuitously convenient, tapestry. The characters take time to develop but ultimately their personalities and motivations shine through, although the reader is kept guessing until the very end. I enjoyed this so much that I almost forgot the intent was to review the book, not just read it! I would recommend this for a lazy Sunday afternoon in front of the fireplace, perhaps even with a string quartet playing on the stereo…
Reviewer: Joanna Leigh

Peter Lovesey  was born in 1936, and attended Hampton Grammar School before going to Reading University to study fine art. He soon switched to English. National Service followed before Peter qualified as a teacher. Having already published The Kings of Distance, named Sports Book of the Year by World Sports, in 1969 he saw a competition offering £1,000 for a first crime novel and decided to enter. Wobble to Death won and in 1975 Peter became a full-time crime writer, winning awards including the Cartier Diamond Dagger in 2000 in recognition of his career in crime writing.

Joanna Leigh studied French and German at university. She works in the aerospace industry and is a chartered marketer in the UK. She describes herself as a voracious reader, enjoying genres as varied as crime thrillers, historical fiction and autobiographies. Joanna lives in London. She is the daughter of crime thriller writer Leigh Russell.

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