Zoo Station journeys to 1939 Berlin

From Soho Crime
From Soho Crime

Zoo Station by David Downing; first published in 2007 by Soho Press Inc.; Kindle price currently $1.99 (USD), paperback edition, list $9.99 (USD). Book 1 of a 6-book series.

Zoo Station introduces John Russell, a journalist whose policy of appeasing the Nazis in 1939 mirrors the policy of the politicians whose attempts to avoid a world war would soon fail.

Russell, a 40-year-old who freelances for newspapers around the world, has lost the youthful idealism that once led him to join the Communist Party, fight fascists in Spain, and write hard news without worrying about whom it might offend. Now, he plays it safe so he can remain in Berlin, where his young son, Paul, lives with his ex-wife and her second husband.

But nothing is safe in Nazi Germany, and Russell soon finds himself caught between his old comrades in Russia, his connections at the British Embassy and the Gestapo. The danger deepens when a fellow journalist enlists Russell’s help, then plunges to his death from the platform at the Zoo Station subway while gathering evidence of a Nazi plan to euthanize German children.

Soho Press provided an advanced reading copy of Zoo Station as part of its reading challenge celebrating 25 years of publishing international crime fiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller. Russell’s conflict between compromise and integrity while living under Nazi rule really reflects the conflict that paralyzed the politicians who tried throughout the 1930s. The result is a taut thriller that provides insights to a real struggle, as well as the fictional one.

Russell proves to be an honorable hero, an ordinary man who undertakes the extraordinary when faced with dangerous times in a dangerous place. I’m glad this was only the first book in a series, because I want to read more. If you like espionage thrillers, especially those set in Nazi Germany, I think you will, too.

NOTE: Sis received a complimentary copy of Zoo Station from Soho Press Inc. via NetGalley for her participation in the publisher’s 25th anniversary reading challenge.  Sis is grateful for the opportunity.

Description:  By 1939, Anglo-American journalist John Russell has spent over a decade in Berlin. He writes human-interest pieces for British and American papers, avoiding the investigative journalism that could get him deported. But as World War II approaches, he faces having to leave his son as well as his girlfriend of several years, a beautiful German starlet. When an acquaintance from his old communist days approaches him to do some work for the Soviets, Russell is reluctant, but he is unable to resist the offer. He becomes involved in other dangerous activities, helping a Jewish family and a determined young American reporter. When the British and the Nazis notice his involvement with the Soviets, Russell is dragged into the murky world of warring intelligence services.

Soho Crime has been publishing atmospheric crime fiction set all over the world for the last 25 years. The publisher’s 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.


Soho’s reading challenge continues

Dark NightRecommended:  Upon a Dark Night by Peter Lovesey; originally published in Great Britain in 1997 by Little, Brown and Company, published in the U.S. in 2005 by Soho Press Inc.; reissued by Soho for Kindle, list price $14.99 (USD)/currently $9.99 (USD), paperback edition, $14.00 (USD). Book 5 of a 16-book series.

Peter Lovesey features a fiction favorite – the victim whose memory is utterly lost – in Upon a Dark Night, his fifth crime novel featuring the irascible yet insightful Peter Diamond.

The effort is ambitious, even audacious, yet Lovesey succeeds where lesser writers have failed. First, he did his homework. He writes knowledgeably about dissociative amnesia, avoiding the popular misconceptions regarding this really rare form of memory loss.  This factual framework means a story that was written nearly 20 years ago remains believable today, even with advances in medical knowledge.

The story also succeeds because of Lovesey’s skill. The plot is complex, but the clues are well placed and the characters, as always, are well drawn. Lovesey rightfully allows Diamond to suffer some consequences for his boorish behavior, and this allows readers to continue to believe in the obviously flawed but essentially kind character of the detective. The pace also showcases Lovesey’s skill, maintaining the reader’s interest in seemingly separate storylines and allowing the reader to see the connections while Diamond remains in the dark.

Like the earlier books in this series (as well as other series on Soho’s International Crime list), the setting is superb. Throughout the story, Lovesey scatters details from Bath’s past and present, along with intriguing hints of history involving ancient battles between the Britons and the Saxons. He also continues to showcase the city using the Royal Crescent not only as the scene of a woman’s death but as the backdrop for a production filming The Pickwick Papers.

I’m reading my way through the Peter Diamond series as I participate in Soho’s reading challenge celebrating 25 years of publishing international crime fiction. I have two months to read all 16 mysteries, and I hope to pull it off because it’s been a pleasure to read these and I’d like to read the first five and I’d like to read the 11 remaining.

These are traditional detective stories. In some, such as this one, the victims do die violent deaths, but Lovesey exercises discretion in the details. He also keeps the use of expletives to a minimum, though readers will find a few in this particular novel. He writes too well to rely on them, either for “realism” or other unconvincing reasons, so readers shouldn’t take offense.

NOTE: Sis thanks Soho for her complimentary reading copy of Upon a Dark Night and for the opportunity to participate in the publisher’s 25th anniversary reading challenge. Her review, as always, reflects her own opinions.

Description:  A young woman is dumped, injured and unconscious, in a private hospital’s parking lot. She is an amnesiac with no memory prior to her discovery by hospital personnel. Detective Inspector Peter Diamond of the Bath homicide squad is unwilling to become involved. He has other, more important cases to solve: A woman has plunged to her death from the roof of a local landmark while half the young people of Bath partied below, and an elderly farmer has shot himself. Are these apparent suicides what they seem, or are there sinister forces at work? And might the amnesiac woman hold the key to both cases?

About the author: Peter Lovesey has written 16 Peter Diamond mysteries, known for their use of surprise, strong characters and hard-to-crack puzzles. He has received the Cartier Diamond Dagger, 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. Visit his website at www.peterlovesey.com for more.

Soho Crime has been publishing atmospheric crime fiction set all over the world for the last 25 years. The publisher’s 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.


Bloodhounds tracks the history of the mystery

bloodhoundsRecommended: Bloodhounds by Peter Lovesey; 304 pp; first published in Great Britain in 1996 by Little, Brown and Company; this edition published by Soho Crime, Kindle list price currently $4.99 (USD), paperback edition, list $15.95 (USD) but selling today at $12.98 at Amazon.com. Book 4 of a 16-book series.

Bloodhounds lays a trail that leads from the earliest crime stories to contemporary ones, while treating fans of this fiction to a modern locked-room mystery.

In the fourth book of the deservedly popular Peter Diamond series, bestselling writer Peter Lovesey tips his hat to his colleagues, from John Dickson Carr to Andrew Vachss. The result is not only a pleasing puzzler, but a guide to the best of the past and the present. This one should be read with a notepad at hand, for jotting down all the titles you’ll want to search for later – and plan on jotting them down because I doubt if you’ll want to interrupt your reading to fetch them.

I’m reading my way through the 16-book series as Soho Crime celebrates 25 years of publishing international crime fiction with a reading challenge. I have two months to complete it, and I don’t foresee any obstacles.

In this one, Diamond is back in Bath and back on the force at the only job he really does well . . . even if he is a bit of both a curmudgeon and a Luddite.  Lovesey created him at a time when political correctness was at its silliest, and Diamond is nothing if not politically incorrect. He is, however, sincere and that sincerity earns the admiration of readers as well as the (sometimes grudging) respect of the detectives who work with him at Avon and Somerset.

Bloodhounds pits Diamond against John Wigfull, the oh-so politically correct and career-conscious cop introduced in The Last Detective as Diamond’s would-be successor. Lovesey skillfully plays the two characters off, with John the rhinestone and Peter the Diamond.  We get Wigfull at his worst, smug with apparent success . . . but appearances are deceiving and he is, after all, the imitation detective while Diamond is genuine.

 Once again, Lovesey takes the reader on a tour of Bath, showing us the graceful Georgian buildings as well as the grimy back streets where no open-topped buses venture. The rich setting is a trademark of the Soho International Crime series, and Lovesey shows why he’s a champion from the first to the fourth (so far – I expect nothing less in the books to come).

The Bloodhounds of Bath are an uncongenial collection of fans of detective fiction who meet weekly in a crypt below a local church. Perhaps the only thing the members have in common is their love for mysteries, though the debate over the merits of any mystery are fierce and more than a few hackles are raised.

The first several chapters alternate between the Bloodhounds and Diamond, and this style may bother some readers. Lovesey had already earned my trust, so I was quite willing to follow where he led – and, before long, he led me (and Diamond and other detectives) along several false trails on the way to a satisfying solution.

The victim is battered with a blunt instrument, but the details are never gory or graphic. The corpse may be bloody, but the language (with perhaps one exception) is not.

NOTE: Sis received a complimentary copy of Bloodhounds from Soho Crime via NetGalley for her participation in the publisher’s 25th anniversary reading challenge.  Neither the publisher, nor any of its authors, have dogged her to write anything other than her own opinions.  She is, however, most grateful to Soho Crime for the opportunity to read and review this series!

Description:  A rare stamp and a corpse are discovered in Bath within hours of each other. As he investigates, Inspector Peter Diamond discovers that both the person who found the stamp and the victim belong to the Bloodhounds, an elite group of mystery lovers, who now urge Diamond to bring the murderer to justice. But there’s a hitch: the body lies inside a padlocked houseboat and the only key is in the pocket of a man with an airtight alibi.

PETER 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. Visit his website at www.peterlovesey.com for more.

Soho Crime has been publishing atmospheric crime fiction set all over the world for the last 25 years. The publisher’s 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.


 

A flawless Diamond?

summonsThe Summons sums up why readers love Peter Diamond, the erstwhile detective chief inspector of Avon and Somerset who solves crimes the old-fashioned way.

“. . . but at least he pursued the truth, whatever the cost. That was what had kept him from being kicked off the force all the times he’d traded aggro with people like Farr-Jones. His values were right,” Peter Lovesey writes, as the third in this 16-book series nears its climax.

Diamond’s values are right, and here he pursues the truth at considerable cost. This story opens with Diamond, now working as a bag boy at a London supermarket, and his wife, Stephanie, in bed late at night when two cops arrive with orders to drag him back to Bath. Diamond has begun to realize how badly he misses police work, and how unsuited he is to any other job, but he’s not quite ready to come to the aid of the assistant chief constable who yanked him off his last case. But, the ACC’s daughter has been kidnapped by a man convicted four years earlier of a brutal murder, on the strength of Diamond’s investigation, and who demands that Diamond and only Diamond reopen the investigation and find the real killer.

Soho Crime, celebrating 25 years of publishing international crime fiction, is promoting the series in a reading challenge, and this is a challenge I’ve accepted and enjoyed. I have two months to read the whole series, and I’m more than game.

The detective is definitely a rough diamond, if you’ll forgive the pun, but Peter Lovesey continues to provide the polished prose that would make any story a pleasure to read. The characters are deftly drawn, from the convict who escaped from a prison on the Isle of Wright to the variety of police officers and officials who are working to capture him. And he shows us Bath as Jane Austen never did, highlighting one of the outstanding features of this Soho list:  Settings from cities and towns around the world.

This story is much more tense than the first two, which should please readers who don’t care for a leisurely approach. The violence is, perhaps, more intense, yet its depiction so restrained that it is unlikely to offend. The cast includes convicts and “crusties,” but, while some of the language is quite vulgar, indeed, it is free of the vulgarities that offend some sensibilities. The deceptions are devious, so I was never quite sure if I had solved the case or netted another red herring, so I remained fully engaged even as the denouement unfolded and the end grew near. This is definitely one I’d like to read again.

Details:  The Summons by Peter Lovesey; 304 pp; first published in Great Britain in 1995 by Little, Brown and Company; this edition published by Soho Crime, Kindle list price currently $4.99 (USD), paperback edition, list $15.95 (USD) but selling today at $15.27 at Amazon.com. Book 3 of a 16-book series. Edgar Award Nominee for Best Novel (1996), The Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction (1995). Those who missed last week’s sale may be interested to know that The Last Detective is again discounted to $1.99 and several of the stories are discounted to $4.99.

NOTE: Sis received a complimentary copy of The Summons from Soho Crime via NetGalley for her participation in the publisher’s 25th anniversary reading challenge.  Neither the publisher, nor any of its authors, have challenged her integrity in regard to her reviews.  They remain uniquely hers.  She is, however, most grateful to Soho Crime for the opportunity to read and review this series!

Description:  John Mountjoy has escaped from prison and taken a hostage, and the only person he’ll talk to is Detective Peter Diamond, who arrested him four years earlier for the murder of a young journalist. Diamond must follow a cold trail to find another killer and clear Mountjoy’s name before another life is lost.

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 www.peterlovesey.com for more.

Soho Crime has been publishing atmospheric crime fiction set all over the world for the last 25 years. The publisher’s 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.


 

The Peter Diamond series continues to sparkle

Recommended:

diamond solitaireDiamond Solitaire by Peter Lovesey; first published in Great Britain in 1992 by Little, Brown and Company; this edition published by Soho Crime, Kindle list price $9.99 (USD), paperback edition, list $16.95 (but discounted at Amazon to $14.69 (USD); Book 2 of a 16-book series. As always, prices are subject to change without warning.

Diamond Solitaire is a gem of a detective story.

The second in the series of 16 detective stories featuring the irascible and overweight ex-detective superintendent Peter Diamond begins in the furniture department of Harrods’s, the landmark London department store, and takes the reader on a worldwide journey from Europe to North America and on to the Far East. And the journeys are chief among the joys of Peter Lovesey’s series, as well as other series from Soho Crime.

I read it as a continuation of Soho Crime’s reading challenge, celebrating 25 years of publishing international crime fiction. The publisher has given me two months to read my way through the series. This is a challenge I’ve accepted with alacrity.

First, the stories shine with the highly polished prose so often found in British fiction, even among the so-called “genre” fiction of crime fiction, or mysteries. Second, Diamond is an outwardly unlovable but in fact oh-so-lovable character! Here, he is stripped of the authority he once held with Scotland Yard, yet he maintains an inner authority that no shield can provide. Third, like all the Soho Crime series, these stories are rich in their international settings.

This time out, Lovesey takes readers from London to Milan, New York, Tokyo and Yokohama, picking up a sumo wrestler along the way. He explores the cut-throat pharmaceutical industry, and the more conventionally cut-throat Mafioso. He gives glimpses into post-graduate research at prestigious universities as well as the uniquely Japanese culture of sumo wrestling.

The pace is leisurely, and the mystery multi-faceted. The young girl found under a pile of pillows is speechless. Is this a symptom of autism, or a symptom of terror? And who, and where, are her parents? Diamond can’t let it go. Meanwhile, the founder of a pharmaceutical company is given a deadly diagnosis, while his firm struggles to keep a competitive edge and come up with a new and profitable drug – and deal with the question of his succession. The mafia is lurking around on the fringes with contract killers and hired henchmen.

Once again, Lovesey provides a pleasing puzzle in this semi-police procedural. The language is not as clean as The Last Detective, and some readers may not care for the four-lettered words scattered in the speeches of some of the characters. The violence, though, is handled with discretion. You can’t have murder without violence, but the details are never nauseating.

NOTE: Sis received a complimentary copy of Diamond Solitaire from Soho Crime via NetGalley for her participation in the publisher’s 25th anniversary reading challenge. Neither the publisher, nor any of its authors, have challenged her integrity in regard to her reviews.  They remain uniquely hers. She is, however, most grateful to Soho Crime for the opportunity to read and review this series!

Description:  After resigning from the Avon and Somerset Police Force in a fit of pique, Peter Diamond is reduced to working as a security guard at Harrods’s, but he loses that job after an abandoned Japanese girl if found under a pile of pillows after the store closes. Diamond’s search for another job is sidetracked by the mystery of the speechless girl’s identity – and the plot that threatens her safety.

PETER 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 www.peterlovesey.com for more.

Soho Crime has been publishing atmospheric crime fiction set all over the world for the last 25 years. The publisher’s 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.

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Murder darkens the City of Light

Murder in the Marais by Cara Black, a celebration of Soho Crime’s 25th anniversary

MaraisRecommended

Murder in the Marais delves into the darkness of the City of Light.

The first novel in the best-selling series introduces Aimée Leduc, whose investigations rely more on hacking than detecting. She’s young, she’s beautiful, and she’s just a tad bit unbelievable – but she’s oh-so enjoyable. The mystery is complex, at times too complex and unnecessarily complicated, with a backstory that is never fully revealed and some extraneous storylines here and there.  But these are minor distractions. The strength of the story is the setting, not merely the contemporary Paris of 1998, when the mystery was first published, but also the Paris of the past when Nazis occupied most of France . . . and most of Europe.

It’s a dark mystery, with Nazis and neo-Nazis and swastikas carved on the foreheads of the quick and the dead, but the depictions aren’t too violent nor are the sexual encounters too graphic. It’s the kind of novel that, for me, was meant for e-readers, because it is so easy to look up anything that is unfamiliar for those of us whose French is rusty (or non-existent). I took several quick detours, to search for photographs of buildings Black described or translations of phrases I couldn’t quite tease out, but they were quick because I wanted to go back to the story.

I chose to read this, as I chose The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey, as part of Soho Crime’s 25th anniversary reading challenge, and I’m glad I did. Yes, it has some flaws – but it has so much promise that I’m quite eager to read the second book in the series and expect to want to read the other 14 mysteries. Soho Crime is celebrating 25 years of publishing international crime fiction with a reading challenge, and I’m reading my way through Cara Black over the next two months.

Note:  Sis received an advanced reading copy from Soho Press and NetGalley, and she’s most grateful to them for the introduction to Leduc and her guided tour of a part of Paris that Sis visited, briefly, 15 years before.

Description: Meet Aimée Leduc, the smart, stylish Parisian private investigator, in her bestselling first investigation.  Aimée Leduc has always sworn she would stick to tech investigation—no criminal cases for her. Especially since her father, the late police detective, was killed in the line of duty. But when an elderly Jewish man approaches Aimée with a top-secret decoding job on behalf of a woman in his synagogue, Aimée unwittingly takes on more than she is expecting. She drops off her findings at her client’s house in the Marais, Paris’s historic Jewish quarter, and finds the woman strangled, a swastika carved on her forehead. With the help of her partner, René, Aimée sets out to solve this horrendous murder, but finds herself in an increasingly dangerous web of ancient secrets and buried war crimes.

About the author:  Cara Black lives in San Francisco with her bookseller husband, Jun, and their dog. Black is a San Francisco Library Laureate.  The 16 books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series, set in Paris, have put her on the bestselling lists of the NY Times and USA Today. Several of her novels have been nominated for the prestigious Anthony and Macavity Awards, and she has received a Washington Post Book World Book of the Year citation, the Médaille de la Ville de Paris (the Paris City Medal, which is awarded in recognition of contribution to international culture), and invitations to be the guest of honor at conferences such as the Paris Polar Crime Festival and Left Coast Crime. The Aimée Leduc series has been translated into German, Norwegian, Japanese, French, Spanish, and Hebrew. 

Cara was born in Chicago but has lived in California’s Bay Area since she was five years old. Before turning to writing fulltime, she tried her hand at a number of jobs: she was a barista in the Basal train station café in Switzerland, taught English in Japan, studied Buddhism in Dharamsala in Northern India, and worked as a bar girl in Bangkok (only pouring drinks!). After studying Chinese history at Sophia University in Tokyo–where she met her husband, Jun, a bookseller, potter, and amateur chef–she obtained her teaching credential at San Francisco State College, and went on to work as a preschool director and then as an agent of the Head Start program, which sent her into San Francisco’s Chinatown to help families there–often sweatshop workers–secure early care and early education for their children. Each of these jobs was amazing and educational in a different way, and the Aimée Leduc books are covered in fingerprints of Cara’s various experiences.

Her love of all things French was kindled by the French-speaking nuns at her Catholic high school, where Cara first encountered French literature and went crazy for the work of Prix Goncourt winner Romain Gary. Her junior year in high school, she wrote him a fan letter–which he answered, and which inspired her to make her first trip to Paris, where her idol took her out for coffee and a cigar. Since then, she has been to Paris many, many times. On each visit she entrenches herself in a different part of the city, learning its secret history. She has posed as a journalist to sneak into closed areas, trained at a firing range with real Paris flics, gotten locked in a bathroom at the Victor Hugo museum, and–just like Aimée–gone down into the sewers with the rats (she can never pass up an opportunity to see something new, even when the timing isn’t ideal–she was headed to a fancy dinner right afterwards and had a spot of bother with her shoes). For the scoop on real Paris crime, she takes the cops out for drinks and dinner to hear their stories–but it usually turns into a long evening, which is why she sticks with espresso.

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 www.peterlovesey.com 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.