Soho Crime challenges readers (and reviewers)

Strongly recommended — without reservation

Last DetectiveIt started with The Last Detective.

Soho Crime, celebrating 25 years of publishing international crime fiction, has thrown down the gauntlet with a reading challenge, and I’ve accepted – beginning with the first of 16 books in the Peter Diamond series. I have two months to read my way through Peter Lovesey. I didn’t need two days to read The Last Detective.

The book won the 1992 Anthony Boucher Award for Best Mystery, and I’ve no quarrel with that decision. I was captivated from the introduction of this rough diamond detective “a genuine gumshoe, not some lad out of police school with a degree in computer studies.” Diamond disdains computers, DNA, and all the forensic sciences so beloved by today’s fans. It isn’t that he distrusts these new technologies. It’s that he recognizes what those who are infatuated with them have overlooked. Scientists don’t solve crimes. Detectives do. Diamond does.

Diamond isn’t exactly lovable – except that he is. He may be overbearing. He’s certainly overweight. He’s been accused of coercing a confession, not by use of force but by use of his forceful presence. He’s a wonderfully contradictory character, and I’m looking forward to getting to know him much better through this reading challenge. In the first book in this series, Diamond lives in Bath . . . the spa town so disliked by Jane Austen, and her heroine Anne Elliot, the heroine of Persuasion. Lovesey capitalizes on the connection, much to the delight of this Austen enthusiast. The Soho Crime novels are known for their international settings, and this one is superb – a character in its own right.

Some of today’s readers may find the story a bit slow – I didn’t – because this isn’t a mystery that is wrapped up in 48 hours. Lovesey alternates the perspective from third person to first, to third, to first, and back to third. Some readers may find this distracting. Again, I didn’t. Lovesey gives each character a distinctive voice, so the changes aren’t confusing at all.

The Last Detective is a rewarding read, with wise insights and witty dialogue and enough misdirection to keep armchair detectives on alert. In addition to all that, it’s a clean read – a police procedural that offends neither sense nor sensibility. If you haven’t read Lovesey, The Last Detective is a very good place to start.

This new edition, featuring an introduction by Louise Penny, is available in e-book ($7.99/USD for Kindle) and paperback ($9.99/USD).

Description: A woman’s body has been found floating in a large reservoir just south of Bristol. In order to solve the mystery of the “Lady in the Lake,” Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond must locate two missing letters attributed to Jane Austen and defy his superiors on the force to save a woman unjustly accused of murder. This is the first of the Peter Diamond series; it won the 1992 Anthony Boucher Award for Best Mystery Novel.

LoveseyPeter Lovesey wrote the 16 Peter Diamond mysteries, known for their use of surprise, strong characters and hard-to-crack puzzles. He was awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger in 2000, the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere, the Anthony, the Ellery Queen Readers’ Award and is Grand Master of the Swedish Academy of Detection. He has been a full-time author since 1975. Earlier series include the Sergeant Cribb mysteries seen on TV and the Bertie, Prince of Wales novels. The Diamond novels, set in Bath, England, where Peter lived for some years, feature a burly, warm-hearted, but no-nonsense police detective whose personal life becomes as engaging to the reader as the intricate mysteries he solves. Peter and his wife Jax, who co-scripted the TV series, have a son, Phil, a teacher and mystery writer, and a daughter Kathy, who was a Vice-President of J.P.Morgan-Chase, and now lives with her family in Greenwich, Ct. Peter currently lives in Chichester, England. Visit his website at for more.

Soho Crime has been publishing atmospheric crime fiction set all over the world for the last 25 years. Its popular series take readers to France, China, England, Laos, Northern Ireland, Australia, Japan, Germany, South Africa, Italy, Denmark, and Palestine, among other locales, with entire range of crime fiction—detective fiction, police procedurals, thrillers, espionage novels, revenge novels, stories of thieves, assassins, and underworld mob bosses. Readers can rely on Soho Crime for an adventure rich in culture and setting.

Sis received an advanced reading copy of this book from Soho Crime via NetGalley in exchange for an independent review as part of this reading challenge. Sis accepts many challenges but none to her integrity.

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