English Mysteries Club discussion

The Last Detective (Peter Diamond, #1)
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Book of the Month pre-2020 > August 2014 - The Last Detective

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message 1: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Cortlund | 21 comments Sounds good. I like Peter Lovesey.


message 2: by Kay (new)

Kay | 218 comments So do I and my library has the book.


Leslie | 1663 comments Looking forward to this one. My library has it and it isn't currently checked out, so I will go check it out myself today!


message 4: by S.K. (new) - added it

S.K. Rizzolo (skrizzolo) | 30 comments I started it already!


message 5: by Gary (new) - added it

Gary Vassallo | 6 comments I just started it, too!


message 6: by Kay (new)

Kay | 218 comments I got my copy this afternoon and started it a few hours ago.


message 7: by G (new) - rated it 4 stars

G Hodges (glh1) | 30 comments Peter Diamond never disappoints.


message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan Davis | 109 comments I read it last month and loved it.


message 9: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan Just got the book from the library yesterday. Looking forward to a good discussion!


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan Barlow | 7 comments I've read the whole Peter Diamond series and really enjoy Lovesey's books. I've just started re-reading The Last Detective and finding it very interesting to go back to the beginning with the characters' introductions.


message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 102 comments Susan wrote: "I've read the whole Peter Diamond series and really enjoy Lovesey's books. I've just started re-reading The Last Detective and finding it very interesting to go back to the beginning with the chara..."

So is this the first Peter Diamond book??


message 12: by Kay (new)

Kay | 218 comments Yes it is according to Fantastic Fiction. I hope I can read the others in order.


Leslie | 1663 comments Susan wrote: "I've read the whole Peter Diamond series and really enjoy Lovesey's books. I've just started re-reading The Last Detective and finding it very interesting to go back to the beginning with the chara..."

In your opinion, is it a series that benefits from being read in order?


message 14: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan Just started this yesterday. A new author and a new detective for me. Liking it so far--Lovesey writes clearly and simply, and still moves the story forward at a good pace.


message 15: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan Reading further, there is a great comment made by the detective regarding the solving of mysteries and murders. Along the lines of: there really is no solving by deducing along the lines of Holmes and Poirot. The solving is done by routine police work--painstaking and methodical. I found that interesting and perhaps a foreshadowing of what is to come.


Ellen | 138 comments Picked the book up at the library today and I am looking forward to starting it.


message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan Barlow | 7 comments There is a long series of Peter Diamond books and it is preferable to read them in order. Although there's not much about his wife in the first one, she really develops as a character in subsequent books, and plays a very important part in one of them.

I like Peter a lot and was a bit surprised going back to the beginning, that he's not particularly likeable here. In this story I find him a bit too aggressive and arrogant. Still Steph obviously loves him, so goes to show he must be a softy at home. It did make me smile picturing him as Father Christmas!


message 18: by Everyman (last edited Aug 08, 2014 08:09PM) (new)

Everyman | 102 comments Susan wrote: "I like Peter a lot and was a bit surprised going back to the beginning, that he's not particularly likeable here. "


EDIT: WARNING -- AS I READ DOWN THE LIST I SEE THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE ONLY JUST GETTING THE BOOK. FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK YET, MY POST DOES INCLUDE A FAIRLY SIGNIFICANT SPOILER. I'VE EDITED THE POST TO PUT THAT IN A SPOILER COMMENT, BUT BE WARNED.

It was my first experience of Peter Diamond, and I didn't like him at all. I hope they don't let him back on the force for his future books. He's a bully, picking on weaker people who can't fight back. If there is any sweetness in him, it's deeply buried. His character made the book less than enjoyable, and I would have quit it fairly early on if it hadn't been the group choice (and because I wanted to comment, and I don't comment on books I haven't read).

All mystery stories are to some extent contrived, but this one seemed to me more contrived than most. It was pretty clear early on who had done it, and the only question was figuring out how it had been managed (view spoiler)

I doubt I'll read another Diamond book. Compared to the masters -- Sayers, Tey, Marsh, Stout, et. al., Lovesey didn't, for me, measure up.


message 19: by Diane (new)

Diane | 24 comments Interesting reading your comments. I hadn't heard
of Peter Lovesey before. I do remember a terrific
series called "The Last Detective" starring Peter
Davidson, but his character couldn't be further
from Diamond's. They jokingly called him "the last
detective" at the station because he seemed to
represent a gallantry and gentleness in dealing
with both suspects and victims that had gone out
of fashion in the world of modern policing- that in turn made his character very likable. Apparently the series was based on a book called "Dangerous Davies". I don't know whether I would like Lovesey's last detective!!


message 20: by S.K. (new) - added it

S.K. Rizzolo (skrizzolo) | 30 comments Everyman: I had a similar response: I didn't find the character at all sympathetic. But perhaps he develops over the series and improves? I didn't finish this book only because I have so many other novels going right now, and this one wasn't holding my interest.


message 21: by C.J. (new) - rated it 3 stars

C.J. (cjverburg) | 218 comments I'm just in the early chapters of Last Detective & just enjoying the plot, before much characterization kicks in -- but your comments about Diamond ring a bell re the Midsomer Murders TV series. I never liked Chief Inspector Barnaby's sneery condescension to his rather thick Sgt Troy (this seems to be a trope in Brit. procedurals, parallel to public-school bullying), but Troy's replacement is worse! The 2 of them gang up to harass suspects, as if terrorizing (probably innocent) people is funny. Maybe that's accurate, but to me it's repellent.


Ellen | 138 comments Everyman wrote: "Susan wrote: "I like Peter a lot and was a bit surprised going back to the beginning, that he's not particularly likeable here. "


EDIT: WARNING -- AS I READ DOWN THE LIST I SEE THAT SOME PEOPLE ..."


Everyman wrote: "Susan wrote: "I like Peter a lot and was a bit surprised going back to the beginning, that he's not particularly likeable here. "


EDIT: WARNING -- AS I READ DOWN THE LIST I SEE THAT SOME PEOPLE ..."

I did quit and took the book back to the library. I didn't like Peter Diamond one little bit.


message 23: by Kay (new)

Kay | 218 comments Well, I did like the book. I thought Diamond added a little humor to the book. I just got the second in the series from my library.


message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan Barlow | 7 comments I'm glad you liked it Kay. I was beginning to think I was the only person who saw any merit in it.


message 25: by Susan (new)

Susan Davis | 109 comments From another Susan I loved it. Quite a few of us did. That's why there's so many choices and authors


message 26: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan I thought it was a bit unusual in that the second part of the book was narrated in a different person than the first part; the voice of one of the suspects. Now, in the third part, we are back to the original voice. I hope I can keep up with all of this!


message 27: by Dee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dee Susan wrote: "From another Susan I loved it. Quite a few of us did. That's why there's so many choices and authors"

I've read all the Peter Diamond books, trust me he is just quirky and gets more likable as the series continues. Since I had already read this novel I picked up the "runner up" Raven Black and I am finding it a true "page turner" and the setting of the Shetland Islands even made me go to google and discover more about the place.


Penny | 345 comments Dee wrote: "Susan wrote: "From another Susan I loved it. Quite a few of us did. That's why there's so many choices and authors"

I've read all the Peter Diamond books, trust me he is just quirky and gets more ..."


Just love Ann Cleeves - my husband ended up going to visit there too!


message 29: by Susan (new)

Susan Davis | 109 comments Ann Cleeves is wonderful.


Corvida | 15 comments I've read some other Peter Diamond books, but never this first one before. I do find its structure a bit odd.


message 31: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan Well, I'm reading and reading this, and I'm afraid I think the author is getting long-winded.


message 32: by Joan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joan | 310 comments It's been a while since I have participated in a BoTM discussion, and I thought that these discussions started on the 15th of the month. Seems I've already missed some discussion!

I have read almost all of Lovesey's Peter Diamond books but had not read this first one for at least 20 years. I was thrilled to realize when I started it that I still liked it and that I had forgotten the plot. It's so great to think that all the books I loved as a young adult may be there to re-read as an old adult!

I'm surprised to see that so many of you don't like Diamond, because you think he's a bully. Whatever bullying tactics he uses in this story are standard elements of police procedurals. Even slender, attractive female police officers (like Kathy Kolla in Barry Maitland's novels or Annie Cabot in Peter Robinson's or even Olivia Benson on "Law and Order SVU") use them. I've always assumed that the novelist wants us to like and identify with the detective (and thus includes some vulnerability and "humanness" in the detective's interior monologue) but doesn't want us to forget that the detective is engaged in a potentially lethal battle of wits with a killer. in such a situation, one can't shy away from intimidating a source of potentially crucial information (and can't ignore the fact that that source, even if he or she is weak or sympathetic, may actually be the killer).

For what it's worth, I think that Diamond's good heart and strong moral compass came across even in this first book in the series; they continue to come across as the series goes on.


Catherine (catjackson) I started reading the book yesterday and am enjoying it. I'm especially liking the switch in point of view (I just got to part 2: Gregory) as it gives a different perspective on the solving of the mystery. And, yes, Diamond can be a bit gruff and may seem like a bully, but he isn't much different from so many other fictional detectives.


message 34: by Kay (new)

Kay | 218 comments Thanks, Joan. I agree with all that you said. Can't add much to it. I just read the second Peter Diamond and liked it even more than the first (or The Last----).


Leslie | 1663 comments Joan, I have also been waiting for the 15th.

I didn't think that he was a bully anymore than, say, Lewis in Colin Dexter's Morse series. As you say, that intimidating manner during interviews is standard police technique (they are probably taught it in the police academy). If police policy was to go easier on "weaker people who can't fight back", criminals would quickly learn to mimic that behavior to get away with whatever crimes they had committed. Unfortunately, that hectoring manner means that innocent people have to suffer through it, but hopefully for only a short while until the guilty party is incarcerated.

By the way, this "bullying" manner towards potentially innocent and vulnerable people isn't restricted to the police -- it is also common in courtrooms.

However, what I found less acceptable was Diamond's manner towards his colleagues and subordinates. Granted that he felt that many of them were "against him", he still shouldn't have vented his anger and spleen on the cops assigned to work under him.

That said, I did enjoy the book enough that I would like to read another in the series. I asked earlier but didn't get a clear response -- is this a series which is important to read in order?


message 36: by Joan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joan | 310 comments I don't think it's important to read these Peter Diamond novels in order. I didn't read them in order, and I really enjoyed them.

However, I'm pretty much always the person in this group who says that "it doesn't matter whether you read them in order," and that's pretty much always a minority view!

Diamond gets nicer to his colleagues as the series goes on. More generally, he changes and grows as a person as the series goes on.


message 37: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John Ottawa | 1 comments I found some of the story to be drawn out. But the funny thing is that I'm still going over details in my mind of the characters. I think I will have to adjust my rating to a 4 star.


Randa I tried to be interesrted in this book but it just didn't work. Diamond's "personality" just didn't sit well with me and neither did any of the other characters. I stopped reading pretty early in, after reading others comments I strongly debated moving on to the other point of view section but I just don't have the interest.

Another author I knew nothing about and was glad to try.


message 39: by Joan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joan | 310 comments Did anyone else notice this comment by Dana in the first chapter of Book IV?

"I’m not one of those twittering women who broadcast their life stories to everyone in the supermarket queue."

Now (in the age of Twitter), that comment still makes sense. Literally, it would mean something different if Dana said it today, but the gist would still be there same. :=)


message 40: by C.J. (new) - rated it 3 stars

C.J. (cjverburg) | 218 comments I'm just into Pt 3 section, after Diamond has to let the Professor go. What amazes me is Lovesay's switching from Diamond's point of view in 3d person (where he's a bully & general arrogant jerk to suspects, underlings, & even unsuspecting computer operators) to 1st person from Greg's POV. What a contrast! Not that the voice has changed much; but Greg is far easier to like & admire than Diamond, not just because of his personality (& his regard for literature, which Lovesay can safely assume many of us share) but the POV switch. So now we're back to Diamond's POV & 3d person, & he's more of a jerk than ever, & I'm really curious about the author's purpose with these unusual tactics. It's a terrific red herring, if that's what he's up to.


message 41: by S.K. (new) - added it

S.K. Rizzolo (skrizzolo) | 30 comments Joan wrote: "I don't think it's important to read these Peter Diamond novels in order. I didn't read them in order, and I really enjoyed them.

However, I'm pretty much always the person in this group who says..."


Joan wrote: "It's been a while since I have participated in a BoTM discussion, and I thought that these discussions started on the 15th of the month. Seems I've already missed some discussion!

I have read alm..."


Reading these recent posts has made me realize that I probably gave up on this book too quickly (I disliked the protagonist too much). But I think I'll try a later novel in the series when Diamond has grown and changed a bit.

I agree with you, Joan, about not reading a series in order, though I still think that's the ideal. However, there are too many authors I want to sample and never enough time.


message 42: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 102 comments Pghfan wrote: "Well, I'm reading and reading this, and I'm afraid I think the author is getting long-winded."

I thought that also about the middle section. I didn't see why we needed all that time spent with the professor. It was obvious early on that he hadn't done it, so why so much time spent on him?


message 43: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan I am forging onward, too far into it not to finish. Due back at the library Thursday!


Corvida | 15 comments I've finished it now. I was never happy with the POV switches in this book. I wondered why we needed to hear from these people now at such length.

I've since read another, later Peter Diamond (#13, I think). There were many POV switches in it. I think the author has grown better at it.

I found that in the later one, Diamond's detectives have more of a role. you see his interactions with them and with other people.


message 45: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan I finished the book last night, fairly disappointed. I don't want to spoil anything, but given that Diamond did a lot of detection, the identification of the murderer seemed to have no factual support as to how he figured it out.


Catherine (catjackson) I've almost finished; will probably finish tonight. The book has sort of grown on me. I can see how some might think that Diamond is hard to take, but he doesn't seem that different from some of the other detectives in other series. He does have his softer moments, too. It's as if the author is leaving room for growth in the character and room for us to learn more about him as a character. I will definitely seek out more of this series.


Valerie Brown I enjoyed this book immensely, and hope that we read more Peter Lovesey in the future!


message 48: by C.J. (new) - rated it 3 stars

C.J. (cjverburg) | 218 comments Pghfan wrote: "I finished the book last night, fairly disappointed. I don't want to spoil anything, but given that Diamond did a lot of detection, the identification of the murderer seemed to have no factual sup..."

I agree! & I'll bet, in some long-ago interview, Lovesay admits he got so tired of writing this book that he was delighted & re-energized when "his characters told him" to throw in a big surprise twist ending! The ending that makes sense was the preceding one. He should have stopped there.


message 49: by Kay (new)

Kay | 218 comments I just read another book in the series and it is the same. A surprise ending!


message 50: by Kay (new)

Kay | 218 comments I did enjoy both books as well as #2, which is quite different. I have ordered the third in the series.


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