Upon A Dark Night by Peter Lovesey

Upon A Dark NightA young woman is dumped in the car park (not the parking lot, Goodreads, we’re in the UK here) and when she regains consciousness in the hospital, she has no idea who she is or how she got there. Re-christened Rose, she moves to a temporary hostel and befriends the compulsive shoplifter Ada. But as she tries to piece her life together, it seems that someone is hunting her? Are they trying to finish the job that they started?

Meanwhile DCI Peter Diamond is getting restless as head of the Bath murder investigation team. Two deaths have crossed his desk – a farmer shot himself in his home and a young girl has fallen to her death from a residential building in the centre of town. Nothing suspicious about either of them at first glance, but Diamond can’t help himself from sticking his nose into someone else’s cases. And one or two little details just don’t quite add up? Were either of the deaths actually murder? And how do they tie into Rose’s situation – Rose who has in the meantime completely disappeared…

You know how I tend to read series in order? For some reason, the Peter Diamond series is the exception that proves the rule. Of the fifteen books in the series, I’ve read Four, Eleven, One and Twelve in that order. It’s probably about time that I got round to sorting this out a bit, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a bit ambivalent about some of his work – the first book, The Last Detective in particular. I really liked Four, Bloodhounds (despite an apparent plot-hole), and Twelve, Cop To Corpse, despite the silly title and Eleven, Stagestruck, was a silly-but-fun but the bit about Diamond’s nightmares was weird. Anyway, back to the series with this one, and finally, we have a winner! An absolute cracker of a read.

I was a bit unsure when Diamond makes only fleeting appearances in the first section of the tale, it concentrating on Rose’s tale instead. I wonder in hindsight if the author was made to put him in as I think it would have been even more effective in portraying Rose’s identity issues if it focussed entirely on her (and the wonderful Ada). Thereafter, the focus is entirely on Diamond as Rose disappears and the plotting is very well constructed, as the three tales weave themselves together into a cohesive narrative very effectively.

Diamond is still not the most sympathetic lead, although his issues are mostly “grumpy old man” syndrome, but these actually form a part of the tale, as he almost ruins his relationship with his female DS. Unlike other police procedural series, Diamond’s support team seems to be fairly fluid, as one might expect from a real police station, hence there is uncertainty as to whether the relationship will be patched up by the end of the book.

This is a great read, with very natural sounding dialogue – a change from the crossword-esque Colin Dexter – and comes Highly Recommended.

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9 comments

  1. Yes, this is very good with a very well constructed plot. Suspenseful. Also, quite witty.
    However, one complaint. It is unbelievable that Diamond could guess accurately what Rose would do towards the end.

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    • Santosh, I’m curious. Do you read a book when it appears in my “Coming Next” widget or do you simply have a prodigious memory?

      And Diamond does admit the guess is just a guess, but he hasn’t got a better idea. If you start thinking about plausibility in murder mysteries, even in procedurals like this one, then you might as well stop reading now.

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      • I have read this book before. However, when I saw that you were going to review it, I simply looked through it.
        By the way, all my friends tell me that I do have a prodigious memory.

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