Thursday, June 21, 2012

Peter Lovesey, COP TO CORPSE: More Peter Diamond Crime-Solving

Peter Lovesey is a master storyteller. Tucked within this police investigation, under the aegis of long-running series character Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond, are tension, intrigue, humor, affection, and neat layers of theory, crime scenes, police politics, and struggles with the humanity of both villains and victors. COP TO CORPSE is a good read that pushes insistently from one scene to the next, and one trail of crime to another, without once making me get up to check that the doors were locked.

Here's how it all starts:
Hero to zero.
Cop to Corpse.
One minute PC Harry Tasker is strolling up Walcot Street, Bath, on foot patrol. The next he is shot through the head. No scream, no struggle, no last words. He is picked off, felled, dead. 
Fortunately, after a brief scene-setting in the present tense, the stoytelling in this Lovesey classic resumes a more usual format, and familiar conflicts emerge: between Diamond and other branches of the police, between the Detective Superintendent and his politically inclined superior, and even within his team, where the eager forensics attempts of DC Ingeborg Smith sometimes shine, and sometimes make her, along with Diamond, the topic of the latest joke.

I actually wished at times that I were reading this one aloud, because when entertaining moments come up in the plot twists, they're often truly funny -- the kind that make you choke on your iced tea and snort unexpectedly. I didn't keep count, but I think Diamond got injured four times between the start and end of the sniper case he's investigating, and at least twice it was the fault of someone on the police force.

Is COP TO CORPSE deep? No. But it's delightfully successful. Pack it in the beach-reading bag, or set it near the couch for the rainy week that was supposed to be your vacation. I'm going to give a copy to my sister.  It's that good.

By the way, this is the twelfth Peter Diamond investigation -- and there's no need to read the others before this one. But since I enjoyed this one so much (and number 11, Stagestruck), I think I'll line them all up for next winter. It will be a pleasure.

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