Time for a book review finally! My first actual review on this blog and I feel like I don’t know where to start. Peter Lovesey is maybe a slightly less known crime writer, at least compared to those whose names you see prominently in every book store. Well at least I hadn’t heard of him before I accidentally came across the first book in this series at a book fair. But maybe he’s bigger elsewhere. I would recommend his books based on what I have read so far, at least this series, from which I have read two books.
As a note at the start. This review does not contain spoilers, just general information and something about the beginning. I’m not revealing any murderers so feel safe to proceed even if you haven’t read the book but plan to.
The book, The Summons, is a part of a series of books about the detective Peter Diamond, who is with the Bath (and Somerset or maybe North-east Somerset) police and then again sometimes he is not. I have read the first book in the series The Last Detective some time ago and this is apparently the third, according to what I found out about it on Goodreads. I read both in Finnish, the first as Viimeinen oikea rikosetsivä (translated: The last real detective) and this one as Ruusunnuppuja vainajalle (translated: Rosebuds for the deceased). Apparently the Finnish publisher skipped the second book in the series for some reason and only these two books have been translated so far. I shall have to see if I find more somewhere in English. (And after writing the first part of this post earlier I checked and the library does have some of these in English.) These books are not sensational or action packed, but there is some action parts too so they are not quite classic detective leisurely either. Something in between though I guess. The not so athletic detective has his limitations too after all.
I really quite liked this and the first book in the series. It was almost great, but not quite. The story pulled me in, but there was something that was lacking, which made it just a little less of a pleasure to read than my favourite mysteries like Christie’s. It lacked maybe some kind of warmth in the writing that would really have pulled me in completely to everything in the book and somehow I was at least sometimes to some extent left at a bit of a distance. That’s a really fuzzy explanation, but I can’s say it better. Partly this could also be because I read a translation of the book and sometimes Finnish can be a really difficult language for translations because it’s so different from the germanic ones and something of the feeling might get lost in translation. I don’t know if that’s the case here.
The story here is that a convicted murderer, Mountjoy, escapes prison. The book starts there and I loved reading the escape. Really got me rooting for someone who is partly a villain in the story. He then demands to have Diamond re-investigate his case because he still claims to be innocent. The plot is good with actually two intertwined stories going on, one with Mountjoy and a kidnapping and the other with Peter Diamond trying to solve the murder case with his sidekick Julie Hargraves. Those are intertwined quite seamlessly as they aren’t that far from each other. The only thing I was left wondering about a bit was what happened to Mountjoy’s prisonmate’s old girlfriend, who he visited. It sounded like he wasn’t that happy with her in the end and she probably had a lot to explain to her husband with broken windows and stuff.
I liked the mystery. I sort of did figure out, or actually guess, the murderer sometime before the revelation, but after that I was tricked at least twice to think that they had found another murderer. I think it’s a kind of fair mystery, where some hints are given, so even if you can’t figure out the whole thing, you can pick up some hints and make at least an educated guess based on them. Though there are of course red herrings too.
I like the character Peter Diamond. He’s both likeable and sometimes unlikable at the same time. I remember that in the other book I didn’t always like him that much from the start because he wasn’t that nice to others, but then it turned out to be someone else who wasn’t loyal. I just read another book, The Delegates’ Choice by Ian Sansom, where a character’s (Ted) sometimes similar grumpiness to Diamond’s and complaining about new things started to annoy me a lot in the end, but here it just gives personality to the man and the character manages to be likeable at the same time. I like his partner in the investigation, Julie, too and I hope she is in the next ones too. I would recommend these books and I hope I get the chance to read the next ones in the series as well.