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Sunday 18 July 2021

‘Diamond and the Eye’ by Peter Lovesey

Published by Sphere,
8 July 2021,
ISBN: 978-0-7515-8367-0 (HB)

Peter Diamond is the head of Bath’s CID, and he is not a man who appreciates people muscling in on his investigations or using police facilities for their own purposes. This means that Diamond is definitely unimpressed when a private investigator commits both of these errors. The brash, wannabee sleuth calls himself Johnny Getz and presents Diamond with a business card that reads ‘Johnny Getz. Gets results,’ which does not endear him to Diamond. Getz has been employed by a young woman, Ruby Hubbard, to discover the whereabouts of her father, Septimus ‘Seppy’ Hubbard after she discovered that his antiques shop had been broken into and Seppy had disappeared. To Diamond’s wrath, Getz uses him and his police authority to gain admission to Seppy’s shop. They discover that the safe is open and empty, but a large Egyptian coffin is not - it is occupied by a modern corpse that died from a head wound.

An investigation is launched to discover the identity of the victim and how he died, alongside the hunt for Seppy Hubbard. It is unclear whether Seppy is the killer or another victim, but it seems probable that the break-in and his disappearance are connected to his occupation as an antiques dealer. Diamond is irritated by Johnny Getz, both by his mannerisms, which are based on the early fictional American private eyes, and even more by Getz’s assumption that he and the police officers are working in partnership. Getz’s opinion of Diamond is equally unflattering. However, they both know they need to work alongside the other. Getz needs Diamond’s official access to crime scenes and forensic information and Diamond is aware that he cannot dispense with Getz’s assistance, because Ruby does not trust the police and will not confide in them. Also, Getz has latched onto Ruby’s best friend, the fashionable, ambitious Olympia. With Ruby’s father still missing, she and Olympia are the only people who probably know his secret, although they are unwilling to admit this, much less share the information with Getz or the police. To add to Diamond’s annoyance, his boss has informed him that Lady Brede of the Ethics Committee will be observing the investigation and Virginia, as she insists, he should call her, keeps turning up at crime scenes without warning and often incognito. Worst of all, a drive-past gunman is targeting people connected with the case and, with bullets flying around the usually peaceful city, Diamond and his team must crack the case, even if Diamond has to swallow his pride and combine his efforts with ‘the eye’, before more deaths occur.

Diamond and the Eye is the twentieth book featuring Peter Diamond, but it works perfectly as a stand-alone novel. While half of the book covers the investigation by Diamond and his team and uses third person description, the rest of the story is told in the first-person narrative of Johnny Getz. As with all the Diamond books, the characterisation is superb. Peter Diamond is grumpy and often obstreperous, but he is a fine detective who has the respect and affection of his team and he will always put the pursuit of justice above his personal feelings. Johnny Getz is a delightful new protagonist, tied up in his dreams of emulating his heroes, the great fictional sleuths of former times. At first, Getz comes across as humorous but rather shallow and irritating but he develops throughout the book into a likeable and surprisingly courageous investigator, and it is great fun to see Diamond and his team through his irreverent eyes. The plot is fascinating, with several subtle red herrings that keep the reader guessing until the end. Diamond and the Eye is an absorbing read, a page-turner, which I thoroughly 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 twenty books in the series. The most recent being Diamond and the Eye.

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 5 further mysteries. 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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