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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The House Sitter. Peter Lovesey. Time Warner Books (2003)

A very engaging and cleverly plotted crime story. A woman is found murdered on a beach, full of people not paying any attention to each other. The case becomes complex when the victim is identified as a top police profiler who had been working on a highly sensitive case for the National Crime Faculty. The question of whether the profiler was killed by the person she was hunting is one of the cleverly woven plot strands in the story. The complications of joint enquires, especially when one of the parties is reluctant to share information is nicely played out. The reveals are very well staged, the action is thoughtful and brisk and the conclusion sharp and very satisfying.
The dual pleasures of this book are the plot and the cast, the structure of the plot is first rate, the motives are clever and credible, they unfold in logical and surprising ways that move the story with subtle force. The cast are not slaves to the plot, they spring to strong and considered life, Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond in particular is hugely engaging. A competent , professional police officer, forceful without being a bully, fond of his own way and right often enough to warrant it. Sharing an investigation is not natural to him and to do so on two counts pushes his diplomatic skills to their limits.
Henrietta Mallin who is leading the investigation into the murdered profiler is smart, competent and tough, she is not at all overshadowed by Peter Diamond. The politics of a high profile case are nicely drawn in, the tension between the various police agencies is made clear. Most enjoyably, one character who appears at first to be a satirical swipe develops into a funny and genuine person, with much more self aware sharpness than might have been expected. This is a very clever and highly entertaining book.

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