Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey - Book Review

       I think there were a lot of things that I liked about The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey but the thing that I enjoyed most was how he created memorable characters other than Peter Diamond.   

       Take the beginning for example.  When the body of Gerry Snoo is discovered, there was Ms. Trenchard-Smith, going to the home of one of the policeman.  She brings him to the scene, looks at the clues, and examines the murder as if she’s the next Ms. Marple from an Agatha Christie novel.   I thought that was hilarious.  

        As far as Peter Diamond is concerned, he is the corpulent detective just like Dr. Gideon Fell from the John Dickson Carr series.  That wasn’t a shock to me since he said in an interview that Carr was one of his favorite writers.   I guess you can say that that’s where the comparison ends because even though Diamond is supposed to be the one solving the murder just like Fell did, their personalities were different since Diamond was impatient, gruff, and difficult to work with considering he had a bad temper. 

         Like Carr though, Diamond used other characters to give their point of views of the murder such as Greg Jackman and Dana Didrickson.  I thought that when Lovesey did that, you got a better idea of who the murder victim was and it made me wonder if either one of them actually killed Gerry Soo.  

          Gerry Soo was a memorable character as a result of this.  She was paranoid, jealous of other women, wouldn’t think twice about cheating on her husband, and was hooked on Cocaine.  I thought that Lovesey did a great job of bringing out her character more when he used other characters point of view.  

          The difference with Carr though was that he focused on the characters in the story and Fell would come in and be the one to solve the murder.  I guess you would see that in an Agatha Christie novel as well.  

          I think the combination of using multiple points of view and having Diamond questioning the suspects made this more of a police procedural.  It kept the story moving for me.  Using Jane Austin letters as an additional plot device was great since you never really knew what happened to the letters until the end of the story.  I thought it was a great effect and added to the mystery of who killed Geraldine Soo.  

           I guess you could say that Lovesey wanted to be different that the other writers that I mentioned and I thought that was a good thing.  It gave more creativity to the story and in the end, I could still remember the characters.  

           In the end, I never really knew who killed Gerry Soo and Lovesey did his job when Diamond figured it out.  He did a great job and you had multiple suspects and I had a hard time figuring out which one of them could have done it.  

            I don’t know if I had any complaints about the novel other than the fact that it seemed long and drawn out at the end.  I guess the point behind that was to build the suspense with a trial and that would keep me wondering if the person was guilty or innocent.  In any case, as a mystery novel, it kept me guessing and there was a lot of suspense and some comic relief that I would give The Last Detective five stars and I’ll continue to read the rest of Peter Lovesey Books. 

Ron Hummer

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