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LaVonne Neff


A Rough Diamond

A crime fiction series worth catching up with.

Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond has problems. At age fiftysomething, over-weight, with high blood pressure and poor eating habits, he's a walking heart attack. A wid-ower, he lives alone except for his cat. Churlish, pig-headed, a bit of a bully, he antagonizes everyone on his staff—including even those he most appreciates. His superiors value his insights but dislike working with him, since the authority he most respects is his own. He has maybe one friend.

Diamond is the creation of British author Peter Lovesey, 76, winner of the Crime Writers' Association's Cartier Diamond Dagger award for lifetime achievement as well as many other awards for his more than 30 books. Lovesey's newest mystery, Cop to Corpse, is the 12th installment in the Peter Diamond series. As the story begins, Diamond's world has become exceptionally dangerous.

At about four o'clock on a Sunday morning, police constable Harry Tasker, on foot patrol near Bath's city center, is shot dead by a sniper using a high-velocity assault rifle. This is the third murder of a policeman in the Avon and Somerset constabulary in just 12 weeks (an amazing toll when you consider that, in the real world, there were only 18 murders in that district all last year). Diamond is understandably worried. Apart from being police, the victims seem randomly chosen. Is anyone on his staff safe?

At the scene, Diamond learns that Chief Superintendent Jack Gull of the Serial Crimes Unit is in charge. This does not bode well. Gull, at least a decade younger than Diamond, is a foul-mouthed climber who readily takes credit for other people's ideas. Diamond has ways of dealing with difficult people, but he never lets them get in the way of his own investigations. Put these two men together and sparks will fly. Still, on Sunday afternoon, when a suspect is sighted in a nearby wood, Diamond and Gull join forces and rush to the scene. For two nights they and a team of police—mostly young and unarmed—patrol the densely ...

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