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Wednesday, 15 July 2020

‘The Finisher’ by Peter Lovesey

Published by Sphere,
14 July 2020.  
ISBN: 978-0-7515-8084-6 (HB)

The story is centred around Bath’s annual half-marathon, the Other Half, and the early chapters follow the preparation of two participants, Maeve and Olga, neither of whom consider themselves to be natural athletes. Maeve is a young teacher who is running to raise money for the British Heart Foundation, a charity important to her aunt. Her reason for doing this is to assuage her guilt because, Trevor, a colleague who is attracted to her, gave her a very ugly Toby Jug. Maeve intended to donate the jug to the British Heart Foundation charity shop, but she accidentally broke it, and then discovered that it was a surprisingly valuable antique. Olga is a very large lady who has taken up speed walking in order to lose weight. Olga is married to an extremely wealthy Russian businessman; although her life is luxurious, her husband is unpleasant and insulting, despising her for being fat but mocking her attempts to get fit. Maeve and Olga meet when Maeve helps Olga after she is mugged, and they become friends. Other chapters follow the fortunes of two young men who are literally ‘on the run’. Spiro and Murat are Albanians who have been smuggled into Britain by people traffickers; they have escaped from imprisonment and are now terrified of being captured by the traffickers’ enforcer; a ruthless killer known as The Finisher.

Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond has no interest in watching the Other Half but he has to be present as part of the ‘overt and covert’ police presence decreed necessary to counter the fear of terrorism. However, Diamond’s interest is awakened when he sees a familiar face amongst the runners. Some years ago, Tony Pinto had made a habit of picking up young women and sleeping with them, but whatever the women anticipated, for Pinto these were always one-night-stands. A young student had warned Pinto’s latest target that his intentions were not serious, and Pinto used a knife to carve up her face, scarring her for life. Diamond had led the investigation that sent Tony Pinto to prison but now, after serving several years and apparently being a model prisoner, Pinto has been released. Diamond does not believe that Pinto has changed and is appalled to see him taking part in the race and talking in a familiar manner to a young woman, who is obviously uncomfortable with his attentions.

Diamond is obsessed with the fear that Pinto is a dangerous predator and he is deeply concerned when he realises that a young woman called Belinda Pye has failed to complete the race and has not returned to her lodgings. The race records show that Pinto did finish but now he is nowhere to be found. He has missed reporting to his parole officer, a fact that Diamond is more concerned about than the parole officer, another woman who appears to have fallen victim to Pinto’s charm. Diamond is convinced that Pinto has harmed Belinda and fears that she is lying injured or captive, possibly down a shaft leading to abandoned quarries. Diamond is not a man who has a great respect for rules and now his determination to locate Belinda causes him to take measures that could endanger both his career and his life.

The Finisher is the eighteenth book in the series featuring Peter Diamond, although it works well as a stand-alone novel. It is an enthralling read, with an intriguing plot, which deals with serious issues of modern life in a compassionate but honest way. The dynamics between Diamond and his team are cleverly portrayed and totally believable. Diamond is wittily portrayed as a grouchy man who is not fond of modern technology and even less keen on the tendency to reduce everything to acronyms, however, he has an integrity, honesty and determination to help the vulnerable, which makes him very likeable. The Finisher is a page turner, which I wholeheartedly recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
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. He is most well-known for his Inspector Peter Diamond series. There are 18 books in the series. The most recent being The Finisher.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book This Game of Ghosts click on the title.    

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