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The Circle (Inspector Henrietta Mallin, #1)
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The Circle (Inspector Henrietta Mallin #1)

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  279 ratings  ·  41 reviews
A writer's circle in Chichester is delighted when a publisher agrees to address one of their meetings, but when that same publisher turns up dead they find themselves and their unpublished ambitions under close police scrutiny.
Paperback, 358 pages
Published February 1st 2006 by Time Warner Trade Publishing (first published June 1st 2005)
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First Sentence: The night of the first murder.

At the urging of his daughter, amateur poet Bob Naylor joins a local writers circle. At the previous meeting, the group was addressed by a vanity-press publisher who’d come to critique their work; some favorably, most not. The publisher is killed in an arson fire and Maurice, the group’s leader, becomes the prime suspect. Because Bob is new and not a suspect, he is recruited to prove Maurice’s innocence, almost losing his own life in the process. Be
Oct 04, 2010 Charly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
This was a really interesting mystery piece about a serial killer who has put a writer's circle in his/her sights for arson murders. I must admit I didn't have it until the very end. A clever and entertaining work with occasional touches of humor. for the most part a good mystery.
Rachel K
I was disappointed in this book.
There were things that I liked about it, and I thought I'd finally found another good mystery writer in the old British style, but no. I guessed the identity of the killer relatively early on, just because it seemed like that's where things were headed. It certainly wasn't because the person's motive made any damn sense. I'd buy that that motive would be sufficient for the first murder, but not for the murder(s) committed to facilitate the prime murder, or even th
I don't know why it took me so long to find this author but I am a die hard fan and will be adding more of his books to my shelves.
This story is based around a writing circle. Bob Naylor, a single dad, is encouraged by his teenage daughter to join the local writing circle. He finally goes along to a meeting and becomes embroiled in all their lives when the Chair of the group is wrongly accused of murder. For some reason the group want Bob to investigate. Everybody seems to have their own little secrets. The ending, as usual, has quite an unexpected twist.

I love this author. His books are set in the English countryside and h
Anirban Das
The Circle by Peter Lovesey takes place in the town of Chichester, where Bob Naylor, a parcel delivery man and an amateur poet egged by his daughter decides to join the local writers circle. The day he decides to attend one of the meetings to see for himself whether he is good enough to join the other writers, the chair gets arrested on the charges of setting fire to the house and murdering a publisher who was due to publish the chairs upcoming book on unsolved real crimes, and was also the gues ...more
As a murder mystery, this is slight enough to blow away in a moderate wind, and its improbable murderer and even less probable motive don’t help. What makes it reasonably worthwhile for a rainy winter day is the derisive tone of the plot (occasionally a bit overdone) and the relentless pettiness of the novel's nasty crop of characters (all of it done in a terribly understated, veddy British sort of way that owes some debt to David Lodge). Lovesey’s obvious ambivalence about writers, a race whose ...more
Lovesey, Peter. THE CIRCLE. (2005). *****. Lovesey is a prolific writer of historic and modern-day detective novels that fall into the category of entertaining puzzlers in the Golden Age tradition. You know that you are in for a good read when you pick up one of his books. This novel features Inspector Henrietta Mallin on a case in Chichester. It seems that a group of writers, and wannabees, have formed the Chichester Writers’ Circle, and meet once a month to read their works in progress and hea ...more
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I like a nice traditional British mystery as much as the next person, but this effort from the prolific Lovesey just doesn't measure up. Set in the "city" of Chichester (population roughly 25,000) just inland from the English Channel, the story is a classic whodunit. A small-time vanity publisher is killed by an arsonist, and suspicion falls upon the amateur writer's group he recently spoke before. A series of further arson attacks ensue, and Lovesey tries to play a shell game to keep the reader ...more
If you expect a tense, suspense-filled novel, do not read this book. It's quite humourous, due to the eccentric actions and speech of the writers, and Bob's rhyming take on every situation, including the other characters and his own personal life. I really enjoyed this and my favourite of these was;
Watch out lady, here comes Bob.
Invite him in, and he's on the job.
But when he says he needs a screw
It's for your letterbox, not you."

The characters were enjoyable to read about, and the idea of ea
Deanna Against Censorship
I get a kick out of Lovesey's books, some more than others. Understated British mysteries with more emphasis on character development than plot movement or action. We have the suspects, members of a writing circle, who start investigating the murders. We have the police who are doing more than the writing circle believes. The characters don't trust each other. They are not trully friends, just members of the circle. The newcomer, Bob, keeps insistig he is not a member of the circle but he is ver ...more
This starts with an interesting conceit when Bob, a truck driver widower, goes to a writing circle to share his rhymes, and people in the circle start getting murdered. Author Lovesey uses 3rd person omniscient voice, and it makes everything a bit dry, the reader is standing far from the characters which are not too interesting. Hen, the detective, doesn’t have much of a role, other than being perpetually irritated that things are going well. But there are some interesting backdrops, men getting ...more
Eva Mitnick
In some ways, this is one of those cozy and almost claustrophobic British mysteries. The action never moves out of Chichester, and when a murder takes place (and then several more), the only suspects are the eccentric members of a small and very amateur writer's group called the Circle. And all this is good - definitely my kind of book!
One thing bothered me, however - I became suspicious of one of the Circle members early on. "Why aren't the other characters questioning why this person did acted
I love Peter Lovesey, but this one was not up to par. It was a quick, light read, and seemed to be an attempt to be Agatha Chrisie instead of Peter Lovesey. I have to say that Agatha does Agatha better, and Peter does Peter better than he does Agatha.
Claire Louise
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and read it in just two sittings. Readers are kept guessing until the very end. Likeable, well-rounded characters and a very easy, enjoyable read. Will be checking out his other books!
The members of a literary circle come from all walks of life and practice may forms of writing, f rom fantasy to torrid romance to household hints. There seems to be nothing about any of them to incite a serial killer. But it becomes clear that there is an arsonist in their midst who is determined to burn his victims to death. Detective Chief Inspector Hen (Henrietta) Mallin is in charge of the investigation of the Chichester murders by fire. Peter Diamond makes a cameo appearance. Lots of the r ...more
John Machata
Too cozy for my tastes.
Rog Harrison
First read 23 March 2005.
Bob Naylor gathers his courage to attend the writing group, only to stumble into a murder mystery. Lovesey is not kind to the pretensions of would-be writers, but Bob is a stout investigator and I missed his constant presence a little when the story turned to a more typical police investigation. Not a terribly complex mystery or deep with meaning, but the characters and caricatures were good to spend time with and the pages sped past with ease.
Una muy buena novela que, más que negra, es de misterio, como se decía en los buenos viejos tiempos. Y es que esta historia, plagada de personajes entrañables por lo cercano y cotidiano, tiene un aire clásico muy a lo Agatha Christie. Nada de sangre a raudales ni cruentos psicópatas, sino crímenes más amables (aunque no menos mortales) y una investigación absorbente que entretiene y no decae en ningún momento.

No me importaría leer más de Lovesey.
Diane Heath
First Henrietta Malin book. The killer was a surprise but the characters were well defined.
I enjoyed this much, much more than the first two in Lovesey's "Diamond" series. The characters were better drawn, the mystery was intriguing, the clues were all there--just very well hidden. All in all, an enjoyable experience.

Of course, since I listened to this as narrated by Simon Prebble, there's a very good chance it may be as good a read as it is a listen.
Candy Wood
Classic Peter Lovesey with Chichester setting (even a side trip to picturesque Bosham). It's always a guilty pleasure when a successful writer sends up the amateurs, and DCI Hen Mallin's problems with the local police are fun too. I wouldn't say Bob Naylor writes "jingles"--more like comic rhymes--but his perspective on the writer's circle makes the sending-up work. Fun.
Lorin Cary
When Bob Naylor joins a writers' group he has no clue what he's getting into. Several members of the circle are murdered and Bob, a van driver who writes limericks, is drawn into a clever morass. Lovesey weaves a nice tale here, complete with defined characters, and so on, that keep the pages going. A good read. As a member of a writing group myself, I enjoyed the setups.
Shonna Froebel
Very good characters. Really enjoyed this.
At the urging of his teenage daughter, widower (and sometimes poet) Bob joins the local literary writing circle. Almost immediately he becomes involved in a real murder-by-arson-mystery and the murderer may be a member of the circle.
A good old-fashioned whodunnit...lots of suspects, interesting characters and an interesting solution.
The first Inspector Hen Mallin mystery concerns a writers group whose most recent speaker is murdered two days later. Everyone becomes a suspect, everyone wonders whodunit, and two of the writers conduct their own investigation unbeknownst to the police. It's a good read.
The literary circle has a fire raiser in the midst. Hen Mallin is called in once the local DI's arrest proves in error with the second fire.
Nosey, opinionated, and egotistical writers are so well portrayed one might assume the author had experience.
Maureen E
A contemporary mystery with little to set it apart. It’s part of a larger series, I believe, and I might have enjoyed it more if I had more investment in the detectives. But as it is, I don’t particularly care enough to keep reading. [Sept. 2011]
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Peter (Harmer) Lovesey (born 1936 in Whitton, Middlesex) is a British writer of historical and contemporary crime novels and short stories. His best-known series characters are Sergeant Cribb, a Victorian-era police detective based in London, and Peter Diamond, a modern-day police detective in Bath. Lovesey's novels and stories mainly fall into the category of entertaining puzzlers in the "Golden ...more
More about Peter Lovesey...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Henrietta Mallin (3 books)
  • The House Sitter (Peter Diamond, #8)
  • The Headhunters (Inspector Henrietta Mallin, #2)
The Last Detective (Peter Diamond, #1) Diamond Solitaire (Peter Diamond, #2) The False Inspector Dew Bloodhounds (Peter Diamond, #4) The Tooth Tattoo (Peter Diamond, #13)

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