THE TOOTH TATTOO by Peter Lovesey marks the return of Peter Diamond of Bath CID. Diamond, while recovering from a trip to Vienna and a break up in his personal life gets a dead Japanese girl on his hands. With nothing better to do, and trying to justify the expenses of the police department, he starts to investigate, only to be handed a clue. The dead girl had a tattoo on her tooth, that of a musical note. On a parallel plot, Mel Farran, a young violist is asked to join a semi retired famous quartet, as they try to revive their careers. The quartet accepts to be residents in Bath Spa University, to teach and play, as the Japanese woman is found dead. The quartet has a anomaly of their own, as their violist had disappeared earlier during a tour of Budapest, the reason for their retirement. All these loose strings come together as a compact crime novel in this highly entertaining work of crime fiction.
Lovesey has long been one of my favourite crime writers. He along with Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill wrote novels those stressed on clues and twists as the bulwark for their books. He didn’t disappoint this time either. The plot was tight; the loose strings were well stitched together in the end. And the parallel narratives also brought in the correct amount of suspense needed. The personal life of Diamond also added the amount of emotion that’s always present in most of the Lovesey books. And the subtle humor. I always enjoy a little bit of humor in my crime novels. They tend to make the reading experience better, and make the fictional policemen seem more humane. Lovesey didn’t disappoint me on that front either.
But, one of the best aspects of this book was the writer’s take on the Scandinavian crime fighters. Every chance he got, he made sure that those crime fighters gets their dues for being so morose and dark. Those lines were a treat to read. Every brood from Peter Diamond got his juniors comparing him to the Scandi guys. One going as far comparing to the Kenneth Branagh played Kurt Wallander, on the brood scale.
A thoroughly enjoyable piece of crime fiction, who shows once again that age hasn’t yet succeeded in diminishing his power of spinning a tale.