About to be shunted off to Bristol and replaced as the head of Bath’s Murder Squad on the eve of his 50th birthday, irascible Peter Diamond is gleeful at the reprieve a body found in Royal Victoria Park buys him—until he gets a good look and realizes it’s his own wife Stephanie with two bullet holes in her head. To prevent bias, DCI Curtis McGarvie is put in charge of the investigation, and Diamond soon finds himself, as the husband, the prime suspect. Appalled, grieving, and determined to bring his beloved Steph’s killer to justice, Diamond mounts an unofficial parallel investigation, concentrating on miscreants he’s jailed. Then, weeks later, another cop’s wife, an ex-cop herself, is declared missing, then found dead along the rail tracks in Woking with wounds similar to Steph’s. Diamond allies himself with the other widower, Stormy Weathers, and the two track cases and villains they worked on together at the Met. Along the way, they find ties between a diamond snatch planned for the Dorchester Hotel and Steph’s first husband, ex-RAF caterer Edward Dixon-Bligh; then the body of Dixon-Bligh himself with his tongue cut out, possibly for ratting out the Dorchester deal. All signs point to the heroin-addicted Dixon-Bligh as killer of both wives, but Diamond, stymied by his unbreakable alibi, begins digging more deeply into the Weathers marriage, with catastrophic revelations.
Another example of why Lovesey’s Diamond series (The Vault, 2000, etc.) sets awards committees tingling. Fully dimensional characters, juicy plotting, and more twists than the Hampton Court maze.