This book is the second to feature Peter Lovesey's cigarillo-smoking detective Hen Mallin in a leading role - the first being 2005's 'The Circle' - although she played minor parts in the last two Peter Diamond novels 'The House Sitter' and `The Secret Hangman'.
`The Headhunters' has obvious parallels with Lovesey's World War II thriller `On the Edge', in that two women (and in this case a guy) discuss murdering an objectionable man. But here, they're only joking - except maybe one of them actually isn't! From this beginning, Lovesey spins a marvellous yarn, and we discover details of murders as the book progresses...
There's a nice bit of wrong-footing in here that echoes another of Peter's books, `The False Inspector Dew' (I don't want to spoil anything, but if you read it you'll see what I mean) - a novel that features one of the best twists EVER in crime fiction.
This traditional English detective novel is a throwback to an earlier age - but given a modern spin. If you fancy a change from reading the brilliant, but sometimes brutal, thrillers of, say, Michael Connelly or James Lee Burke, you could do far worse that try this excellent volume. Having said that, `The Headhunters' is not as good as the books in his other contemporary series, featuring detective Peter Diamond. But then it would be impossible for him to top `The Last Detective', `Bloodhounds' or `The Vault' etc for virtuoso storytelling.
Peter Lovesey has given me greater pleasure than any other writer operating in the crime/detective/suspense field. Each of his books is written with a beautifully sure touch that makes reading him an absolute joy. And among his other formidable gifts is his mastery of the unspottable twist. Astonishingly he is 72 years old this year, and still producing wonderful fiction in both the longer and shorter formats. I selfishly wish him the best of writing health and hope to enjoy a new book a year from him for at least another 20 years!