‘The Stone Wife’ is the 14th book in Peter Lovesey’s Peter Diamond series about a bath detective and his team.
Medieval English Literature professor John Gildersleeve is an expert of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. So, when a dirty lump of stone appears in the auction catalogues, he quickly recognises it as a carving of the Wife of Bath – a Chaucer character, and is determined to be the highest bidder. The bidding quickly races past the expected level of £3,000 and is around £24,000 when three masked gunmen storm into the auction house with the intention of stealing the Wife of Bath. Horrified that he might lose his prize, Gildersleeve confronts the gunmen and is shot dead for his efforts.
Now the wife of Bath is sitting in Peter Diamond’s office (seemingly jinxing the team) while the team tries to determine if the killing was just a robbery gone wrong or if Gildersleeve was targeted. And, who could have wanted Gildersleeve dead?
While Diamond and his team try to find a motive among Gildersleeve’s associates, Ingeborg Smith is sent under cover to try to find the source of the gun used in the killing. Young Paul Gilbert would have loved to have been given the undercover assignment. Feeling left out, he uses his initiative with terrible consequences.
Eventually Diamond and his team use the slimmest of leads to track down the responsible criminals.
I remember studying Chaucer at school and hating it. Maybe that has slightly coloured my feelings about this book. I enjoyed it but preferred the previous two – ‘Cop to Corpse’ and ‘The Tooth Tattoo’.
But, the characters were all strong and fun to get to know. I still can’t quite work out why Nathan Hazael did what he did in the end.
I’m looking forward to spending more time with Diamond and his team in the next novel and I’m still hoping to go back and read the series from the beginning.
Book Published 2014