6 January 2010

Review: SKELETON HILL, Peter Lovesey

Sphere, 2009, ISBN 978-1-84744-333-5, 326 pages

Celebrating and re-enacting a battle that took place on Landsdown Hill during the English Civil War over three hundred and fifty years earlier, two of the Royalist dead share a beer and discover a bone they think is probably human. At the end of the day one will get home safely and the other, a university history lecturer, will disappear.

His disappearance is reported to Bath CID. The bone discovered during the battle is re-discovered by three rescue dogs, and is found to belong to a headless corpse. Forensics tells Peter Diamond, Head of Bath CID, that not only are the bones not old, but the skeleton is female, murdered and buried within the last two decades.

Within days there are reports of a vagrant trying to break into cars at the Bath racecourse. A few days later he comes to police attention again when he tries to steal food at a market. And then he too is found dead.

SKELETON HILL is a fascinating insight into how evidence can be built up.
There were so many things I enjoyed about this book, it is hard to know where to start. The story is quite plausible. I've always liked the idea of battlefield re-enactments, and the opportunities they provide for crime cover-up are legion.
SKELETON HILL is #10 in the Peter Diamond series,and once again Peter Diamond comes over as very human, very real. He is not above getting his hands dirty. In fact his boss doesn't think he delegates enough. I enjoyed the glimpses of the inter-relationships with his team. He is a good leader and an intuitive detective. In the long run the case is solved through a combination of sheer grunt, meticulous investigation, and lateral thinking.

My rating 5.0

Other reviews to check:
  • Books to the Ceiling: "everything a mystery should be"
  • Do You Write Under Your own Name: "Reading a novel by Peter Lovesey is rather like settling down to watch a favourite tv show or film, in good company and with a bottle of wine and box of chocolates within easy reach. You just know you are going to have a good time."
In Best Reads for 2009 that I am collecting, 4 contributors have listed SKELETON HILL among their top 10.


Anonymous said...

Kerrie, this is a series that I haven't tried yet. This book sounds intriguing though. Of course, I'm one of those people who really like to read a series in order so it might be a while before I got to this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Deb said...

I just finished this a few weeks ago and thought it was great. I hadn't realized Civil War re-enactment so such a big thing in England (here in the States it's positively a fetish--different Civil War of course, but the same commitment to accuracy and detail). Anyway, I loved the accumulation of detail and clues in this book; and was surprised that Peter Diamond is continuing to see the woman he met under difficult circumstances in the last book. Also (I made this comment on Martin Edwards' blog) I wonder if some members of the Bristol force are going to be recurring characters in future Diamond books.

Great book; highly recommended.

Anonymous said...

Exellent review as always, Kerrie! Lovesey's Diamond series is a good series; I hadn't read this one yet, but I will now : ).

Louisiana said...

Lovesey's novels and short stories have won him a number of awards, including both the Gold and Silver Daggers of the Crime Writers' Association, of which he was chairman in 1991/92. In 2000, he received the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement in crime writing.

Susan said...

Well, here's another for my to buy list! I think I have to begin at the beginning, though, and check to see what is in print. I am really looking forward to this series after this review, though! Lovely one! If all else fails, I'll buy Skeleton HIll and read it for my mystery challenge while I wait to round up the others! lol

Dorte H said...

I can see I will have to try Peter Lovesey soon! This one sounds just like my thing.

NB: I tried the new template, Stretch Denim, for the Global Challenge blog and I agree that it is an improvement! Thank you.
I have even found a ´stretch´ version for my own blog.

Historian said...

Excellent review. The Diamond series is high-class, but I remember well Wobble to Death from the early seventies.

The only fault I have been able to find in the Diamond series is in respect of some of the sidekicks: both Campbell and the really intolerable Ingeborg Smith have both detracted considerably from the novels, while Wigful (or similar), Leaman and particularly Halliwell have added enormously to them.

No doubt the editor insisted on Smith, the most junior person on the team being imported into CID and promoted rapidly, but her inclusion has proved a turn-off.

Historian said...

I had not realised that I was posting to a north American site.

Frankly, otherwise I wouldn't have done so.

It does amuse me that those who repudiated British rule so violently not all that long ago read books books written by the enemy, including Peter Lovesey.

Kerrie said...

There is certainly not anything North American about me Ban Crows.


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