Inspector Peter Diamond, in full curmudgeon mode, detects a fresh corpse at a Civil War (that’s the Cavaliers versus the Roundheads) reenactment.
Two “corpses,” weary of lying dead during a reprise of the Battle of Lansdown 350 years after the fact, creep away to enjoy a six-pack hidden beneath a felled oak tree. Discovering a femur, presumably from the original battle, they decide to inter it once more. When Bristol University lecturer Rupert Hope returns to pick it up and show it off to his students, he’s coshed from behind. At length the bone winds up on Inspector Peter Diamond’s desk. Forensics proves it belonged to a young woman. Who was she and who killed her? Rupert is no help. First he’s concussed, then he’s dead. With two murder inquiries on his hands, Diamond (The Secret Hangman, 2007, etc.) finds Bristol CID only too eager to take on the second. Craftily circumventing territorial duels, he works out the relation between the murders and is soon chatting up members of the Lansdown Society, including his boss Georgina, Sir Colin Tipping and Major Swithin. Alas, typical Diamond missteps land one officer in hospital and assign a Ukrainian interpreter to an English-speaking suspect. Thanks to Lovesey’s nonpareil deftness, however, Diamond ultimately prevails over murder past and present.
History, humor, inspired clues, maniacal twists and a paean to the beauty of the Bath countryside. Lovesey, who’s won every prize going, deserves another for Diamond’s tenth.