A very cleverly crafted detective tale with a surprise twist in the tail. When is someone from TV going to pick up on the Peter Diamond series to make into highly watchable programmes with all the elements that made Morse so popular.
I was tipped off by a reviewer of another of Peter Lovesey's books that The Vault was one of his best. I agree. It's an intricate and well-crafted story that keeps you reading. It weaves an historical figure, Mary Shelley and her book, Frankenstein with a fictitious modern story involving a murder victim just unearthed during work on vaults underneath a churchyard in Bath and a fanatical collector of Frankenstein memorabilia. I won't give away the twists and turns of the story but in the end all are satisfactorily connected.
First Sentence: Some weird objects are handed in at Bath Police Stations.
Bones—contemporary bones, not Roman bones--are discovered in a vault below the house in which Mary Shelly wrote most of her book “Frankenstein.” An American academic and Shelly fan, reports that his wife has gone missing at the time he was in an antique shop trying to buy a letterbox said to have belonged to the author. When the owner turns up dead, D.S. Diamond has to question whether the man is guilty of one murder, two…or none.
The book begins with an excellent hook. There’s no question of putting the book down, once one starts it.
It’s hard not to love the characters, particularly with Lovesey’s humor, bad puns…”The bony hand, resting on its pizza box, was deposited on Detective Superintendent Peter diamond’s desk. “What’s this—a finger buffet?”…”…When’s medieval?” “Later than Roman,”… The dialogue, in general, is wonderful… “Where did you find it.?" "At Hay-on-Wye." This was cause for a smile. "Sooner or later everything of no special distinction seems to end up there.” It’s wonderful to have dialogue that is clever and witty enough to make one laugh.
Diamond is a great character and a bit of a contrast. Although he always describes himself as believing other see him as annoying and a curmudgeon, there’s little actual evidence of that from his actions. He helps a young reporter who wants to join the police. He has a wonderful conversation with a 6-year-old girl. He has a good relationship with his wife. And he sings songs by Queen—how can one not like a character that single Queen? As an investigator, he uses logic and questioning, rather than makes assumptions.
The plot is interesting and contains information on some rather obscure history of Bath, Mary Shelly, and art—including a reference to David Hockney. One intriguing comment was that in all his years as a murder man, the board of crime scene photos had never been of an practical help. There are a couple threads to the plot, as well as some clever twists, and everything is brought together really well at the end.
“The Vault,” although perhaps not my favorite of the series, is a very clever mystery; well written and enjoyable. Lovesey’s Peter Diamond series has become a definite favorite of mine.
THE VAULT (Pol Proc-DS Peter Diamond-Bath, England-Contemp) - VG Lovesey, Peter – 5th in series Soho, 1999
I have read a few of Peter Lovesey's Peter Diamond mysteries and this is one of the best I've read so far. Bones are discovered in a vault under the Roman Baths and what follows is an intricate and fascinating story involving Mary Shelley's novel `Frankenstein' and the history of Bath. There are interesting characters - eccentric antique dealers, a visiting English Literature professor from the USA, a man who runs a touring puppet theatre, a persistent newspaper reporter who wants to join the police and of course Peter Diamond himself.
I loved the background to the book - Bath and its environs - and the writing style is simple and straightforward so that the reader can concentrate on the story and the characters. All the violence happens off the page - which makes a pleasant change. If you have not read any books by this author then this would be a good one to start with. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys books by authors such as Martin Edwards, Priscilla Masters or Simon Brett.
...if so, and you love well written thrillers why not give this author a try?. This one stands alone very happily but if you really want to enjoy Lovesey novels start with earlier Diamond books, Diamond being his trusty, Bath stationed, detective. The mysteries are set in Bath sometimes straying as far as Bristol and all the regular 'tecs are well drawn and rather lovable. Lovesey REALLY knows this city and each novel offers fascinating chunks of its history, Mary Shelley, Jane Austen the Baths themselves of course. True to form this one involves a piece of Bath's past namely Mary Shelley's creation Frankenstein.These books offer a refreshing change from graphic blood and gore though the police work and investigation is believable. Diamond himself is no muscle honed action hero he is definitely overweight and he 's not one to accept interference from on high either. Lots of plot, dense with good description and dialogue, excellent stuff. I would LOVE to see a TV series of Diamond cases!
Not my usual genre, but recommended by a book-loving friend when she discovered I'd moved to Bath. I'm now hopelessly addicted. I can't tell you if this is a particularly good example from the series, but Detective Diamond has certainly been responsible for adding to my tsundoku