Monday, July 21, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Secret Hangman by Peter Lovesey

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Secret Hangman by Peter Lovesey. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Secret Hangman by Peter LoveseyBuy from

The Secret Hangman by
A Peter Diamond Mystery

Soho Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-488-5 (1569474885)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-488-4 (9781569474884)
Publication Date: April 2008
List Price: $13.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): Peter Diamond, the Bath detective, is having woman trouble. His boss wants him to find a missing person, the daughter of one of her friends in the choir. He is not enthusiastic. Another woman, who calls herself his Secret Admirer, wants to set up a meeting in a local pub. He tries ignoring her. Then there is sexy Ingeborg Smith, the ex-journo detective constable, distracting the murder squad from their duties. No one ignores Ingeborg.

Murder becomes a possibility when a woman’s body is found hanging from a playground swing in Sydney Gardens. Soon Diamond is certain that a secret hangman is at work in the city. The hunt for the killer, through abandoned mine workings and the deserted city by night, galvanizes the entire squad and forces Diamond to face his own demons as well as the killer. 

Review: Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond and his team investigate a series of hangings in and around Bath (England) in The Secret Hangman, the ninth whodunit in this series by Peter Lovesey.

It’s been three years since the death of Diamond's wife Steph and now, seemingly out of no where, he is being pursued by a wealthy lady. Not only is he not interested in getting to know this woman, he and his team are totally absorbed in a series of murders that may have begun two years ago. At the time they were ruled as suicides but Diamond does not believe in the coincidence of the murders. There were two couples, and now one woman. Will the woman’s partner or husband be next? Diamond believes there is a serial killer involved. During all this time, his "secret admirer" Paloma remains persistent in her desire to meet Diamond. Diamond becomes taken with her tenacity and begins to spend time with her. Diamond and his team, however, continue move forward in their investigation, hunting for and finding clues. They still have no connection between the people who have been killed and the motive escapes them. They are sure though, without a doubt there will be another male victim shortly. Is it be possible that this is not a single serial killer? Could there be a cult involved? How did the killer (or killers) choose their victims? How do the “ram-raiders”, a gang that drives stolen vehicles into the fronts of jewelry stores and other small businesses to loot them, fit into the scheme of things? Their biggest problem, of course, is, could they get the answers before the third man is hanged? And just why is Paloma so eager to meet Diamond, almost to the point of stalking him?

The Secret Hangman, with its cleverly ironic title, is a very likeable novel. The plot is suspenseful with an unexpected twist or two and the characters bring a touch of humor to their deadly profession. As a police procedural, it is very well done with a behind-the-scenes look at a police station, how it operates, and the relationships between those in charge and the rank-and-file.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Secret Hangman and to Soho Press for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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