I have read the 144th book for the book challenge. It was The Last Detective: Introducing Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond by Peter Lovesey.
A woman’s nude body is found washed up on the shore of a lake near Bath. The authorities don’t know who she is so the call goes out for people to identify her. Finally, Professor Gregory Jackman comes forward to say he believes it is his wife, the actress Geraldine Snoo, who disappeared three weeks previously. This proves true. DS Peter Diamond is on the case as is DCI John Wigfull.
DS Peter Diamond is under investigation for intimidation of a witness in another case and DCI Wigfull is there to watch him in this case. DS Diamond is cleared of wrongdoing but the cloud remains.
Mr. Jackman had saved a young boy, Matthew Didrikson, from drowning in the river a while ago. He has been taking the boy to the university swimming pool and befriending him. His mother Dana has become friends with Greg Jackman as well. Jackman and his wife Gerry live separate lives. She has her theater friends and he has his university friends.
Gerry gives a barbecue at their home. Dana comes to say thank you to Jackman for saving her son. They go for a drink at the pub and then she brings him home. Jackman cooks his own steak but with a sauce that Gerry prepares special for him which contain a powerful drug. He goes to sleep in the summer house and she sets in on fire. He barely rouses himself and is able to stumble out of the summer house. He is convinced that she tried to kill him because he talked to her doctor and knew she was depressed.
Jackman is preparing an exhibit of Jane Austen memorabilia for the university with a visiting American professor. Dana has two letters from Jane Austen to her aunt that she gives to Jackman. He is very happy about them. Gerry is wild and goes to visit Dana and threatens her. The letters disappear in Jackman’s home. He is distraught. He thinks perhaps the American took them and goes to France to see if he took them with him. Gerry is dead in the bed when Dana goes to see her.
Peter Diamond arrests Dana for the murder of Gerry. He thinks she murdered Gerry and transported her in her Mercedes to the lake. But he throws her son into the wall when he arrests her and is suspended from the police force. He quits the force. He takes menial jobs. He begins to visit Jackman and comes to believe that Dana is not the killer. But who is?
Dana and Matthew had seen a man with Gerry at the Jackman’s house. Mat knows who he is. He is a university lecturer and drug dealer. Diamond tracks him down in the Bath House and the man goes after him with a spade and nearly kills him. The police arrest the man for drug dealing. The police find drugs in Gerry Jackman’s house after Diamond tells them where to look. Diamond also tells the defense attorney how the Mercedes could have been switched linings and one used to transport the body. Stanley Buckle, Dana’s employer, an importer, is involved. He has also planted the missing letters in Dana’s house for the police to find.
The missing letters are introduced in court and things look bad for Dana. But then her attorney calls Buckle and grills him on switching the linings on the Mercedes and about being at the Jackman’s house and finding the letters. He admits to moving the body and taking the letters. Dana is free. But who murdered Gerry?
Diamond knows. He meets with the murderer. It is Mat. He went to the Jackman’s because he was angry with Gerry because she wouldn’t let Jackman see him anymore. Jackman was like a father figure to him. He smothered her in bed and ran away. He admits it. Peter will help him admit it.
This was a great story. I felt sorry for Diamond that he lost his job even though he acted at times like a pompous ass. But he was a good cop. Maybe he needed to fall to be compassionate. He worked well with Jackman to free Dana. The plot was very complex with many turns and twists. I quite like it.