Saturday, June 08, 2024

Last Acts

As part of this week’s crime-fiction news round-up for In Reference to Murder, blogger B.V. Lawson submits the following item:
In Sarah Weinman’s latest crime fiction column for The New York Times, she made note of two legendary fictional detectives taking their final cases, with Jacqueline Winspear retiring Maisie Dobbs, and Susan Elia MacNeal bidding farewell to Maggie Hope. The Comfort of Ghosts is the 18th outing for Dobbs, the “plucky and resourceful British investigator and psychologist” whom Jacqueline Winspear introduced in 2003, and The Last Hope is the 11th installment for Maggie Hope, once Winston Churchill’s secretary and now “a capable and shrewd spy.” Winspear also paid tribute to her literary creation in her newsletter on her website.
At least one other long-running sleuth is also signing off before the end of 2024: Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond of the Bath, England, police department. First introduced in Peter Lovesey’s Anthony Award-winning 1991 novel, The Last Detective, Diamond has since starred in 21 sequels. Those include Against the Grain, which is due out in Britain in November (from Sphere) and in the States come December (from Soho Crime). Clearly described on its U.S. jacket as “The Conclusion of the Peter Diamond Series,” it finds the old-school cop away from his desk but enjoying little rest. Here’s Amazon’s plot synopsis:
Detective Peter Diamond, chief of the Avon and Somerset Murder Squad, is taking a short holiday in the country. His former colleague Julie Hargreaves has invited Diamond and his partner, Paloma, to visit the idyllic village of Baskerville (no relation to the Sherlock Holmes story, so he’s told). It turns out Julie’s invitation was not without ulterior motives. The woman who owns the village’s largest dairy farm has been convicted of manslaughter following a terrible accident in her grain silo. Julie’s ex-investigator instinct tells her there has been a miscarriage of justice and a murderer is on the loose—but Julie's been keeping secrets of her own, and can’t take her inquiry any further.

Diamond takes the bait; the case is a fascinating one, and he’s quite enjoying his incognito information-gathering, getting to know the villagers as they prepare for their annual Harvest Festival. The deeper into the cow dung Diamond mucks, the more convinced he becomes there was foul play. But maintaining his innocent tourist façade becomes harder as he closes in on his suspects. To protect his alias, he might have to learn how to operate a tractor or drive a herd of wayward cows. He might even be forced to attend a hoedown—not that he’d dance, not even to catch a killer. Or would he? The curmudgeonly detective has plenty to learn about himself as he tries on some new hats: undercover private investigator; village detective; country gentleman.
I’ve read all of Lovesey’s Peter Diamond mysteries to date, and am unlikely to miss this one. How about you?

No comments: