A nude female floats dead in a large reservoir lake south of Bristol. To solve the "Lady of the Lake" mystery, and save a woman unjustly accused, Sussex Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond must find two missing letters attributed to Jane Austen, and defy his superiors.
You may remember that I have a bit of a crush on Peter Lovesey. I fell head over heels in love with The Reaper when I read it out of the blue and also quite enjoyed Upon a Dark Night which turned out to be fifth in a series. The Last Detective happens to be the first in the Peter Diamond and when I saw it at a local bookstore, I snapped it up.
The Last Detective was just as great as I wanted it to be. Diamond is already in hot water right off the bat, having been moved to Bath from London due to a scandal what was not really his fault. When a naked woman is found floating in a local lake, Diamond and his anxious team take the case.
What I love about Lovesey is that he creates so much detail and richness in his plots that it's easy to get lost in them and even forget you're reading a mystery at times. Two whole sections are just witness testimony filled with details that aren't relevant but show a depth that you don't normally get with thrillers. All the characters are real, flawed and have clear motivations.
The only problem I had with this novel was that the edition I was reading, the Soho Press Twentieth Anniversary Edition, was riddled with typos. I'll forgive a few but one of the subheadings of the section, a page that only has one phrase on it, was titled (instead of 'the men in white coats') the men in white goats. It was pretty embarrassing, especially as I usually really enjoy Soho Press.
The mystery is delightful enough, though, that I made it through those blunders and found myself quite content with the solution. It wasn't perfect or pretty but it made sense and felt more real than you often find. I look forward to reading more Lovesey in the future.