Created by Peter Lovesey
“Young lady, I’m a private eye, not the Pope.”
After all, Diamond just doesn’t seem the type. Deep down, he’s a company man all the way.
And truthfully? Diamond seems to have a stick up his butt most of the time. Still, that hasn’t stopped him from grumbling his way down the touristy streets of small town Bath, England and solving murders for quite a while now.
Sure, the prickly old sourpuss may whine and moan about his superiors, his staff, the “paper suits” of the forensic team and and being nagged about his diet by his long-suffering second-in-command, Detective Sergeant Ingeborg Smith, but he ain’t goin’ nowhere. He’s a lifer.
But in his twentieth novel-length appearance, 2021’s Diamond and the Eye, Lovesy unleashed a whole new irritant to ratchet up Diamond’s blood pressure: cocky local private eye JOHNNY GETZ. Getz fancies himself an American-style hard-boiled dick, and he’s at least a third right. Truth is, he’s about as American as a crumpet, and as for hard-boiled? Well, things in the mirror may be smaller than they appear. He’s a low-rent P.I. with “a slight cashflow problem,” bicycling to meet clients, and not shy about cadging drinks or bumming rides.
Diamond isn’t impressed.
Normally, the two would never cross paths. But then Getz is hired by Ruby Hubbard, a young woman anxious to locate her antiques dealer father, “Seppy,” who seems to have disappeared—shortly before Diamond finds a dead man in Seppy’s shop. In an Egyptian sarcophagus, no less.
The brash Getz (his business card boasts that he “Getz results”) pushes his way into the case, insisting he’d never interfere with an official homicide investigation—he’s just “looking for Seppy,” and suggests they pool their resources.
Reluctantly, Diamond agrees.
The two cases, however, are of course hopelessly snarled, and the POV is soon twitching back and forth between the two cases (with Getz’s narrated in charmingly awkward hard-boiled prose).
Getz, living by rules cobbled together from way too many (like I should talk) private eye novels (he namedrops everyone from Spade to McGee), turns out to be the perfect foil for the no-nonsense inspector.
And what a case! There are enough clues in this juicy little mystery for everyone, never mind our hapless odd couple, plus a motorcycle-riding gunman or two, more murders, a missing treasure, a couple of potential femme fatales (a pushy young journalist and an over-sexed do-gooder), and plenty of half-truths and out-right lies to sort out—including from each other.
Long time P.I. buffs will take a shine to the dodgy Getz’ wannabe ambitions, and procedural buffs should enjoy how Diamond and his team work the case, but it’s the mutual aggravation society of the two mismatched sleuths that really had me hoping for a rematch.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. A slightly different version of this review appeared in Mystery Scene. Used by permission of the author.