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THE SECRET HANGMAN
By Peter Lovesey
Soho Press, June 2007 ($23.00)
Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel
In the ninth Inspector Peter Diamond mystery, DS Peter Diamond is finally beginning to recover from the loss of his beloved wife Stephanie. Now his boss Georgina Dallymore has put him in charge of solving a series of "ram raids," with stolen vehicles being crashed into storefronts so the stores can be looted. This is not good for business in the tourist-friendly city of Bath, so Georgina wants him to pull out all the stops to put an end to the crime spree.
He is called out to investigate an apparent suicide in a city park, but it soon becomes evident that the woman was in fact a murder victim. When her husband is found dead later on, the prevalent viewpoint is that it's a murder/suicide. Diamond isn't convinced, and is proved right when other bodies turn up in similar situations. The victims are all couples who were successful, childless, apparently leading blameless lives. A serial killer is at work, and it is obvious he has chosen the victims for a reason. Diamond has to try to figure out what links the couples before any more lives are lost.
While Diamond is juggling his cases and his personal recovery, he becomes the target of a most insistent stalker, a woman who claims in a letter hand-delivered to his office that she is just the right person for him. She sends baked goods, and sets up a time and place for them to meet. He ignores her overtures, and she seems to take the hint. In a serendipitous encounter in the grocery store parking lot, he meets an intriguing and attractive lady, and he begins to think he might finally be ready for a new relationship.
Diamond plods along, doggedly tracking down every clue, depending more on the skills he's honed through the years than on the bells and whistles of the new technology. He's sometimes wrong, often offensive and stubborn, but he's dedicated to finding the killer before he takes more innocent lives. This is another winner from Lovesey.
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