Dogged police work, nasty revelations about respectable citizens, dollops of suspense, Chaucerian tidbits—all the pleasures...


Murderous holdup men end the bidding at a staid auction house and turn the proceedings over to Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond of the Bath CID.

Lot 129, an enormous limestone carving of Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, has languished in obscurity for hundreds of years. Its 15 minutes of fame arrive when three masked gunmen interrupt Morton’s auctioneer Denis Duggart and shoot a bidder who tries to stop them from wheeling it away. Fueled by his wealthy wife Monica’s purse, professor John Gildersleeve (medieval English literature/Reading Univ.) had already bid well past Morton’s estimate of the price the carving would bring. Now his death raises many questions. Was his murder premeditated? Who hired the holdup men, and why were they so interested in the stone wife? And, since this is the U.K. and not the gun-happy U.S., who supplied them with arms? Assuming that the answer to that last question is notorious Bristol gun supplier Nathan Hazael, Diamond asks for a volunteer to go undercover and infiltrate Hazael’s inner circle. Recently promoted DS Ingeborg Smith, rising to the occasion, comes up with such a novel scheme—posing as a journalist looking to publicize the career of rising pop star Lee Li, who’s taken on Hazael as manager and bedmate—that she runs away with the book. As Diamond and his crew (Cop to Corpse, 2012, etc.) beat the bushes for suspects (dry-eyed Monica? Bernie Wefers, the violent ex-husband she cheated on with Gildersleeve? Dr. Archie Poke, the Reading colleague Gildersleeve barred from further advancement?), Ingeborg, acting on one hunch after another, gets herself deeper and deeper into trouble. But not as much trouble as DC Paul Gilbert, the rookie who takes it upon himself to investigate her sudden disappearance.

Dogged police work, nasty revelations about respectable citizens, dollops of suspense, Chaucerian tidbits—all the pleasures you expect from much-honored Lovesey are here, but this time without a strong center to pull them all together. The result is Diamond in the rough.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 9781616953935

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.


Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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