Thursday, August 02, 2007

Secret Hangman by Peter Lovesey

Recovering from the murder of his beloved wife three earlier, gruff Inspector Peter Diamond is slowly starting to emerge from his cocoon of grief. He has a secret admirer, a new relationship, and a murder to investigate -- a series of hangings that first appear to be murder-suicide, but proves to something more evil.

It always feels like a long time between Peter Diamond novels most probably because it is. No matter how long though, it always feels like revisiting an old friend. Peter Diamond is not the most lovable or most tactful fictional detective but he is one of the most real. He's not superhuman or even brilliant most of time. Luck plays a big part in his cases, but nonetheless he gets the job done. THE SECRET HANGMAN is another engaging entry in a very solid series from Peter Lovesey.

Looking Good Dead by Peter James

Tom Bryce decided to do a good deed by trying to return a CD left by a passenger on the commuter train. The CD was unmarked so Tom decides to pop it into his computer to see if he can figure out to whom to return it. Big mistake. Now Tom and his family are in danger by a group of particularly nasty people.

This is a second novel in what seems to be a series. I didn't read the first and felt no need to. All the characters are adequately explained. The main character of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is an especially intriguing and sympathetic man. Nine years earlier on his thirtieth birthday, his wife Sandy disappeared. He is just now beginning to date again. The object of his affection is the beautiful Cleo Morey who is the Chief Mortician. The scenes leading up to and including his dates with Cleo are some of my favorites in the story. I felt these were particularly strong. The plot was a rather cookie cutter with a bit more graphic violence than usual. I didn't find it particularly suspenseful or thrilling, but where the plot let me down, the characterizations more than made up for it.