The Stone Wife (Peter Diamond #14)
by Peter Lovesey
Review by Mel Jacob
Soho Crime Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616953935
Date: 16 September 2014 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Peter Lovesey continues his successful series Peter Diamond Investigations with The Stone Wife, the fourteenth such novel. A failed art heist at an auction house ends in the murder of the highest bidder, university professor John Gildersleeve, a Chaucer scholar. The prize Gildersleeve sought is a stone carving reputed to be the Wife of Bath from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Bath police inspector Peter Diamond gets the puzzling case.
The carving is taken to the Bath Manvers Street station and ends in Diamond's office because its weight made it difficult to take to the Property Room. From then on, Diamond begins to feel he is cursed as various leads go nowhere. A man who loves puzzles and thinks outside the box, he and his unit soon compile a growing list of possible suspect. Among them are his fellow office mate, the ex-husband of his new wife, the wife, other Chaucer collectors, art thieves, and professional hit men.
Diamond's crew of diverse personalities, skills, and experience work well together at gathering the minutiae to identify suspects and track information. They make extensive use of the internet and their mobile phones. The one woman on the team is well respected by the others and by Diamond. She is assigned to go undercover to find information on the murder weapon, an old Webley service revolver.
The mystery provides interesting bits of history about Chaucer, Brunel, Bristol, and Bath. It also provides plenty of excitement during the woman officer’s undercover work in the home of a weapons supplier.
Most readers will enjoy learning more about the individual team members. As always, Peter Diamond is ahead of them all in solving the crime and making connections others are slow to see. While initially slow to adopt new technology, he even sends text messages on his mobile.
In the main, most readers will not find the language offensive, which is far less crude than in present noir mysteries in the U.S. Sex is present but not overt, although the gun supplier has a mistress and affairs drive some of the suspects motives. British humor is subtle except for the occasional puns.
Lovesey also wrote the Sergeant Cribb series and other historical novels. He has also written as Peter Lear.