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Bloodhounds by Peter Lovesey
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Bloodhounds (1996)

by Peter Lovesey

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No one writing today does locked room mysteries as good as P: The Bloodhounds are a weird mystery fan group who meet in strange places like crypts to hold discussions. Just prior to tonight's meeting Milo finds a rare Penny Black stamp inside a John Dickson Carr novel; the stamp was recently stolen from the Postal Museum. Not long afterward, Milo is found dead in his locked riverboat and the stamp is missing.

The killer sends riddles to the police and the media driving an already irate Bath Detective Superintendent Diamond up a wall while his staff interviews the other members of the Bloodhounds. Diamond soon comes up with a theory on how the killer escaped the locked riverboat puzzle, but that fails to get him any closer to identifying the culprit making him wonder if his hypothesis is sending him down the wrong path.

Paying homage to John Dickson Carr, no one writing today does locked room mysteries as good as Peter Lovesey does. In his fourth Diamond police procedural (see THE LAST DETECTIVE, DIAMOND SOLITAIRE, and THE SUMMONS) is a terrific tale that grips readers as the cops question the obsessed Bloodhounds only to uncover all sorts of personal secrets, but no murder motive as none seems like a thief. Diamond remains cantankerous perhaps more so this time because the serial killer is laughing in public at his foibles. Besides the locked room, Mr. Lovesey pulls a brilliant sleight of the hand that will fool and satiate the audience.

Harriet Klausner
  lonepalm | Feb 5, 2014 |
This is Lovesey at his magnificent best, and he manages to combine a gripping murder story with an analysis of the different genres of crime fiction.

As the novel opens, Lovesey's permanently irascible Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond has just arrested a bank clerk who has just confessed to the murder of his branch manager, so he is feeling pretty smug. Meanwhile Shirley-Ann Miller decides to go along to a meeting of the Bloodhounds, a group who meet weekly to discuss crime fiction. There are only six other members but it soon appears that they have wide-ranging and passionate ideas about what constitutes the ideal crime novel. Some favour gritty, modern realism while others prefer the traditional whodunnit, particularly the "locked room". One is obsessed with Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose" (and why not?).

Lovesey uses the differing opinions of the Bloodhounds to illustrate the contrasting genres of crime fiction which he does in an informative but also immensely entertaining way. And then one of the Bloodhounds finds himself inexplicably in possession of the world's most expensive postage stamp, stolen earlier that week. This is merely the start of a series of events that will end in the murder of two of the members and the investigation of the rest. Lovesey weaves his own intricate "Locked room" mystery, and embeds it soundly within a robust police procedural, and adds further grist to the Diamond canon.

Most enjoyable ( )
  Eyejaybee | Sep 13, 2013 |
Mysteries about mystery readers are always fun. In this story Inspector Peter Diamond is bored and like Sherlock Holmes in that he is dying for a murder case that is unusual and mentally challenging. He wish is granted when a member of a crime story discussion group called the Bloodhounds is found murdered in a locked room. Shades of John Dickson Carr hover around as Diamond tries to figure out how a dead body is found inside a padlocked houseboat the only key to which is in the pocket of a man with an airtight alibi. ( )
  Condorena | Apr 2, 2013 |
I like Lovesey, in general. But with this book, everything has to be qualified. Killer is "least likely", all right -- but unsatisfying (and eminently guessable) nonetheless. Investigative team is well contrasted -- but not very compelling. Suspects are diverse enough, OK -- but to almost no purpose. The concept of a murderous mystery book club is amusing -- but not nearly sufficiently exploited for its comic potential. What is interesting is Lovesey's habit of starting a dialogue sequence between two characters who are part of a larger social context and then continuing with unattributed statements that create a sense of ambiguity as to who, precisely, is speaking. I only wish this habit had been in the service of the mystery(ies). ( )
  jburlinson | Jan 17, 2010 |
The theft of a valuable museum piece and a murder aboard a locked canal-boat seem to be linked to the Bloodhounds. They’re a group of mystery fans who meet weekly to discuss their favorite authors and books. The Bloodhounds had been discussing locked-room mysteries when the found themselves in the middle of one.

The theft investigation is headed by John Wigfull, the murder inquiry by his colleague and friendly competitor, Detective Sergeant Peter Diamond, ably assisted by Inspector Julie Hargreaves. Diamond and Hargreaves are a match made in mystery heaven. Both crimes are more than a bit baffling, the motives obscure and the link to the Bloodhounds puzzling.

Peter Lovesey demonstrates his writing prowess by extending the leanness of his prose to the list of characters – very small indeed, and not an extra in the bunch. His book Rough Cider is among my all-time favorites and, quite honestly, I hadn’t read another of his until Bloodhounds. I had picked up a copy for my husband, who has a very low tolerance for mediocre writing and prfers top-notch authors who write lean and clean. Hubby enjoyed Bloodhounds and encouraged me to review it for the Cozy Library.

Although Mr. Lovesey might cringe at having his books reviewed on a website devoted to “cozy” books, Bloodhounds is definitely cozy-ish, a true traditional English mystery par excellence. Having characters drop the names of some of my favorite mystery writers only added to the charm.

Peter Lovesey has won just about every award a writer can --- he’s definitely worth a go for cozy readers. He has a long list of books to choose from – something that has a tendency to make cozy readers very happy.

By Diana. First published in the Cozy Library July 25, 2008 ( )
  NewsieQ | Aug 1, 2008 |
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Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond was suffering in the rear seat of a police car scorching toward Bath along the Keynsham bypass with the headlamps on full beam, blue light pulsing and siren wailing.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0751518514, Paperback)

Peter Diamond of the Bath Police returns in the fourth installment in this marvelous detective series. The plot for this mystery is well thought-out and cleverly developed with puzzling turns that keep you guessing. A rare stamp is stolen from a museum, only to appear between the pages of a mystery book under consideration by a group of wing-chair sleuths known as the Bloodhounds. The intrigue deepens when one of the mystery buffs winds up dead. The cat-and-mouse game plays out with plenty of twists and turns. Mystery lovers will enjoy the debates over classic mystery plots that the Bloodhounds engage in, and the careful reader will wisely follow them to glean clues to solving the mystery.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:51 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Head of the Bath murder squad, Peter Diamond isn't exactly up to his elbows in bodies in the placid resort. He's bored, a bit testy, and ready for an old-fashioned mystery. Alas, when one does come along it's not in his division; it's a half-million-dollar heist by a thief who first has sent a rhyming riddle to all the local radio stations. Diamond is ready to throw his weight around to help solve the robbery, but before he can step on any toes, a body turns up and the corpse is in his court.There's only one catch. It's impossible for anyone to have committed the crime. The victim belongs to an elite group of mystery lovers called the Bloodhounds. The body is inside a padlocked houseboat, and the only key is in the pocket of a man with an ironclad alibi. The murderer cannot logically have left the scene, yet the victim is definitely not a suicide. Has one of the other Bloodhounds decided to commit the perfect crime? Was the heist and its verse a red herring, part of a labyrinthine plot by a twisted mind?… (more)

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