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Skeleton Hill (A Detective Peter Diamond Mystery) Hardcover – September 1, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews
Book 10 of 14 in the Peter Diamond Series

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Product Details

  • Series: A Detective Peter Diamond Mystery
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569475989
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569475980
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,045,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Peter Lovesey has two strong elements going for him with this mystery series: the rich history of Bath and the engaging character of Peter Diamond, his detective superintendent, head of the Bath murder squad.

Peter Diamond is a big man - overweight, unfit, funny and irascible by turns, and totally consumed by his job. A demanding boss, he assumes everybody wants to work as hard as he does. Oddly enough for a man who's often in a rush, he likes to drive slow (even old ladies pass him). He's put off by technology but not above using it. In this book he's painfully learning to use his cell phone.

The focus of the action is Lansdown, a hill near Bath where the Roundheads fought the Cavaliers in 1643. The locals periodically re-enact the battle in historic costumes for enthusiastic audiences. During the latest re-enactment, two Cavaliers sneak off to have a few beers under an ancient fallen oak. Some cans are missing, and digging around in search of them, the men find a human femur. Finally they re-bury it out of respect, assuming it's a combatant killed centuries ago.

But in fact the skeleton is no more than 20 years old - and headless. That gets the police to wondering. And when one of the Cavaliers who found the skeleton is murdered, Peter Diamond suspects that the two deaths must be linked.

There are lots of eccentric characters in the story, and interesting glimpses of the sex trade and the aristocratic horseracing scene. The mystery is solved by putting a hundred bits and pieces of information together from interviews, research, forensics and plain old-fashioned snooping. It's quite absorbing to go through the process with Diamond and his team.

I highly recommend the whole series, as well as this latest book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Skeleton Hill" starts with an interesting tie-in to the English Civil War of the 17th Century. At a periodic reenactment of an important battle near the city of Bath, two participants find a human leg bone buried in the same cache as their six pack of Fosters. They assume it belongs to a fallen warrior from the original battle and respectfully rebury it.. Later in the day, one of the re-enacters, a university historian, is drawn back to the burial spot and is attacked as he attempts to disinter the bone. The attack renders the man senseless and sends him wandering with amnesia for the next three weeks. The locals assume he's simply a homeless bum until he is attacked again--this time fatally. Meanwhile, the leg bone in question is rediscovered by a someone's pet hound, and the police eventually determine that it, and the rest of a skeleton (minus head), are far from 17th Century remains. But who is the victim? Why is the skeleton headless? The rest of the story is a long, detailed police procedural that attempts to discover the identity of the skeleton and the murderer of the historian.

OK--so author Peter Lovesey delivers a decent plot and a rather good procedural. Where this story does not succeed so well is when it hits the denouement and the motivation of the killer(s?) becomes paramount. That motivation as laid out by the author is just not plausible enough to be attributed to the kind of person(s) that the killer(s) turn out to be. For me, it was literally a "oh, come on" moment.

Lovesey is a good writer, but this can't be one of his best efforts.
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Format: Hardcover
In Lovesey's 10th Inspector Peter Diamond mystery, Diamond investigates a headless skeleton found on Bath's Lansdown Hill during a reenactment of a 1643 battle between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers. Soon afterward, a university professor who took part in the reenactment is found murdered nearby. Diamond comes to believe the cases are interrelated, even though the skeleton is 20 years old.

Diamond's investigation takes him to historical sites in Bath, to the area's horseracing scene and to London's seamy world of eastern European sex workers who came to England after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

We don't see much of Peter Diamond's personal life in this particular entrant in the series. It's more of a straightforward police procedural. I thought it was interesting, but not a standout. Still, a medium-grade Lovesey is well above average for most mysteries.
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Format: Hardcover
A pair of English Civil War reenactors discovers evidence of a decades old murder buried beneath a fallen tree on Lansdown Hill, site of a famous battle. The skeleton is headless, and some painstaking investigation reveals the victim to be a twenty year old Ukrainian immigrant escaping the sex trafficking trade in London. Two weeks after the exhumation, one of the reenactors is found dead in a Landsdown cemetery, his head bashed in.

What follows is a case lead by old pro Peter Diamond, who insists that the two crimes are connected and doggedly pursues the truth in spite of strong discouragement from his boss. Author Lovesey's pacing and plotting is superb, his characters genuine and likable, including the bad guys. Inspector Diamond has recently lost his wife, and is provided here with material for a budding, if not wildly romantic, new relationship with a smart, sassy woman (close to his own age, even!). Lovesey also makes good use of his settings, evoking a realistic sense of time and place. As in other series fiction, perhaps it's better to read the entries in chronological order, but I haven't done that, and find that Skeleton Hill holds its own as a standalone.
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