The master of the cozy cerebral mystery pairs the Bath Murder Squad’s cantankerous Peter Diamond (Diamond Dust, 2002, etc.) with cigar-smoking Henrietta “Hen” Mallin, Senior Investigating Officer at Bognor Regis, and sets them loose to find the audacious murderer of crime profiler Emma Tysoe, who was strangled on a Sussex beach alongside other bathers who noticed nothing amiss. Was her death the handiwork of the serial killer she was trying to identify, whose first victim was film director Axel Summers? Jimmy Barneston, placed in charge of that hush-hush investigation (and determined to keep his two trysts with Dr. Tysoe off the record), thinks not. After all, that killer preferred to use an arcane weapon, a crossbow, and left clues from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” as to his next two victims. Even so, Diamond, who treads where more circumspect types fear to go, is convinced the two cases dovetail and determined to work them both. When Barneston falls apart after one of his targeted charges, golf phenom Matthew Porter, is murdered in a supposedly safe house, it’s Diamond who tries to protect the other intended victim, singer/philanthropist Anna Walpurgis. But the “Mariner” killer finds her, too, and her death is only a moan away when Diamond comes to the rescue.
Brusque Diamond and plainspoken Mallin make an engaging team, and few, if any, can top Lovesey in not only creating believable red herrings and plot twists but whetting an appetite for rereading the English classics from Austen to Coleridge.