The nicely designed Soho edition.
In case you didn't suspect, I am a fan of Lovesey's Peter Diamond series set in the gorgeous city of Bath, England.
My favorite of the books is THE HOUSE SITTER, which I consider one of the best crime novels of all time.
I wasn't happy with this year's entry, STAGE STRUCK, and I know I'm in the minority on that one. But that won't stop me reading the next or even going back and reading those that I missed the first time around.
This is how I came upon BLOODHOUNDS, Lovesey's homage to the Golden Age detectives and the old fashioned whodunits which most of us love. It is also the fourth book in the series. I'm saving the other unread ones for the gray doldrums of January.
The Bloodhounds of the title are a small group of book lovers who gather together once a month to talk mysteries. They meet in a cozy crypt at St. Michael's church and when they're not picking on each other, they actually do talk about the books they admire most. Of course part of the time is spent belittling each other's favorites, but not even ardent readers are free from fault. Each reader thinks his or her genre within the genre is best.
There's plenty of Golden Age detective name dropping during their meetings, as well as commentary on more modern writers like Andrew Vachss and Val McDermid, among others.
When Sid, one of the members of the little band is found murdered, (a very quiet chap who never had much to say to anyone) it's not just an ordinary murder. No sir. To the police department's disbelief, this time out, it's a 'locked room' murder, just like in the good old days of John Dickson Carr.
Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond is skeptical, but sure enough, the more they look at it, the more they are chagrined to realize that they do, indeed, have an honest to goodness whodunit on their hands.
The victim was found (with his head bashed in) on a small houseboat, the residence of Milo Motion, another member of the Bloodhounds group. Milo is a great proponent of John Dickson Carr and his alter ego, Carter Dickson, the famed Golden Age writer who specialized in impossible locked room murder plots.
The cabin on the boat was kept sealed with a special lock ordered by Milo, to which only he had the unique key and since Milo has an unshakable alibi for the time of the murder, then who done it? Almost as important - how was it done?
This is a terrific book which cleverly pays homage to the past while making the present day mystery as entertaining as possible. The suspects also, are a varied lot and it's hard to imagine who, among them, even had a motive for killing the harmless little man who'd been one of their earliest members.
As the investigation picks up speed, the deepest darkest secrets of each individual Bloodhound is, of course, unearthed by Diamond and his crew.
The plot is complicated by poetic warnings sent to the newspapers, the theft of one of the world's oldest and most valuable stamps, the Penny Black, from a nearby museum and a second murder. Just when things appear to be getting clearer, author Lovesey still has another surprise in store.
My only quibble is the ending in which the killer comes out of left field, though I'd been a bit suspicious of him earlier AND the motive which is not an especially convincing one. But other than that, it's a terrific book and I highly recommend it, especially if you, like me, love the Golden Age mysteries of once upon a time.
To see a complete list of Peter Lovesey's books, please use this link.