The Stone Wife: A Peter Diamond Investigation

Soho Crime. Aug. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9781616953935. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616953942. M
What is as civilized as an auction room in the heart of oh-so-genteel Bath? That's what makes it the perfect place for the murder that opens Lovesey's 14th series procedural (after The Tooth Tatoo). Under the auctioneer's hammer is a block of carved stone, supposedly a 14th-century representation of Geoffrey Chaucer's Wife of Bath from his Canterbury Tales. The victim, and most active bidder, is a Chaucer scholar. Once Peter Diamond and his team are on the case, they finger as potential killers as motley a band as the pilgrims Chaucer met on the road to Canterbury. There's the victim's widow who was financing the academic's bid with her personal fortune; the wealthy builder who is the widow's ex and the source of her wealth; and an obnoxious academic rival who stands to gain by the victim's death. Meanwhile, in Bristol, DS Ingeborg Smith assumes the daunting task of infiltrating the home of a reputed arms dealer who may have supplied the murder weapon. Lovesey is the recipient of a trophy case of literary awards and can keep the action moving at a zippy pace that would make an auctioneer proud.
VERDICT With its assured mix of clues, characters, cleverness, and literary/historical allusions, this title can be highly recommended when next your PBS affiliate slips into fund-raising or auction mode and there is need for a Masterpiece Mystery fix.
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