Friday, February 4, 2011
The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey
The Inspector Peter Diamond mystery series by Peter Lovesey has been on my reading list for some time. I am pleased to discover that The Last Detective turns out to be the first in the series. As I read, I was struck with the obvious erudition of the author, the complex and somewhat daring change of voice throughout the narrative, the presentation of fine moral and ethical questions, and the unsettling ambiguity of the ending. The main character, Peter Diamond, is meant to be a "diamond in the rough." He may be overbearing and critical with his associates at the police force, but he is unerring in sensing discrepancies between suspects' statements and their deeds. He is not above taking pride in finding a piece of evidence that disproves his colleagues' assumptions.
In this, the first in the mystery series, the characterizations are finely wrought and suprisingly sympathetic. One finds oneself shifting allegiances with each chapter. All the characters have failings, but each have redeeming features which impel our interest. The ending is both heartbreaking and shocking and open-ended as regards the fate of our chief investigator. A fine addition to British mystery.