John Mountjoy has done plenty of vile things to women, but he's always insisted that killing sexy journalist Britt Strand wasn't one of them. Now that he's broken out of Albany Prison and taken Assistant Chief Constable Tott's daughter hostage, the coppers will ruddy well have to listen to him. Mountjoy demands that the ACC bring in Peter Diamond as his negotiator, not knowing that Diamond quit the force shortly after wrapping up Mountjoy's case two years ago. From the moment that Diamondwho finds himself more sympathetic to desperate Mountjoy than to his smug, rule-bound former colleaguestakes over, it's obvious that veteran Lovesey has something special in mind: alternating a present-day tale of mounting suspense (the police keep flushing Mountjoy and Samantha Tott out of one bolt-hole after another as Diamond struggles to keep good and bad guys from killing each other) with a methodical after-the-fact whodunit (Diamond and his handpicked Watson, Julie Hargreaves, work like beavers on deadline to reopen Britt Strand's murder). A splendid idea worked out with surpassing ingenuity. Full marks to Diamond (Diamond Solitaire, 1993, etc.) and his inventive creator.