The Tooth Tattoo is the latest book set in Bath and featuring the likeable if sometimes curmudgeonly Peter Diamond. The gruff cop shares his first name with his creator, Peter Lovesey., Regular readers of this blog will know how much I relish Peter's books. I first came across them when he was writing about the Victorian cop Sergeant Cribb and I've read every novel he's ever written, as well as the vast majority of his short stories. As well as reading his books, I collect them, and I finally got my hands on a dust jacketed first edition of his debut novel recently. You could say I'm a fan.
Is his latest, published by Little, Brown up to standard? Absolutely. In fact, one of its strengths is the way you can never be sure where the story is heading. It's a twisty tale, full of unexpected developments. I was also surprised to discover that music is at the heart of the book, as Peter does not normally feature music very heavily in his fiction. But here there is a great deal about classical music and string quartets, and the unusual nature of the relationships between members of a quartet.
The strange deaths of two young Japanese women, one in Vienna, one in Bath, seem to be connected. The corpse found in a Bath canal had a musical note tattooed on one of her teeth. Apparently this is a popular, if to my mind weird, custom in Japan. Diamond's investigations run alongside a series of chapters focusing on a violist called Mel, who may or may not have something to hide.
I really enjoyed this one. Mind you, it was just as well, as I'd already agreed to interview Peter for that terrific US magazine Mystery Scene. As always, he was graciousness itself when answering my questions, and I like to think that there will be some things in the interview that even diehard Lovesey fans won't have come across before. The magazine in question, incidentally, will be in the book bags of all delegates to Bouchercon in the autumn. I would like to be there in New York myself, as Bouchercon is a lot of fun, but at present it doesn't seem likely. Next year, perhaps!