Friday, October 23, 2009

The Vault by Peter Lovesey

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The Vault
by Peter Lovesey

Hardback: 332 pages
Publisher: Soho Press
First Released: 1999

Source: Bought from my library's book sale

Back Cover Description (modified):
Bath is a town layered in history: Roman, Medieval, Georgian. Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond is a buff, old-fashioned policeman. When he is presented with a skeletal hand, found in the vault under the Pump Room where a church graveyard used to be, he assumes it is merely of archaeological interest. But when the bones prove to be modern, Diamond must dig further. His inquiries cross those of a visiting American academic in pursuit of the diary of Mary Shelley, whose Frankenstein was written in the house that used to stand over the vault (before the house was demolished so the Pump room could be expanded). And now unknown paintings--illustrations for Frankenstein--are showing up on the market. Can Frankenstein have anything to do with a modern murder...or murders?

The Vault was an enjoyable, but not really memorable, mystery set in the 1990's in Bath, England. The main character, Peter Diamond, was interesting, but a bit bluntly rude and overbearing when dealing with people. I did enjoy his low-key humor and word-play jokes, though.

Peter Diamond was neither exceptionally smart or stupid. The reader always had more information than Peter Diamond, so we had the satisfaction of feeling smarter than him because we could figure out parts of the mystery before he did. However, he made good use of the missing information the moment he got it. Since he was the boss of the investigation and knew all the information, he had his turn at looking smart in front of his peers.

The pacing was very good, and the details about the town and history of Bath were interesting. There was a minor amount of swearing and some British cussing. There was no sex. Overall, I'd rate this book as enjoyable, fairly clean fun.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Some weird objects are handed in a Bath Police Station.

WPC Enid Kelly, on desk duty this afternoon, sneaked a look at the Asian man who had brought in a pizza box. She was sure of one thing: it didn't contain a pizza. She just hoped it wasn't a snake. She had a dread of snakes. "How can I help you, sir?"

The man had the black tie and white shirt of a security guard. He lifted the box up to the protective glass partition.

No airholes. Officers on duty learn to watch out for any container with holes punched in the top. But there was a bulge. Something bulkier than a pizza had been stuffed inside. Bulkier than two pizzas.

"This I am finding at Romans Baths."

"What is it?"

The man glanced at the other people in the waiting areas as if they might not wish to hear. Leaning closer to the glass, he said, "Can I pass through?"

"Just a moment."

Enid Kelly turned for support to the sergeant filling in a form at the desk behind her. He came to the glass.

"What have you got here, sir?"

"Some person's hand, I am thinking."

"A hand?"

"A hand I said."

"It was in this box?"

"No, no, no. My lunch was in box. Tomato and mushroom pizza. This was best thing I could find to carry hand in."

"Let's see." The sergeant unfastened the security panel and the box was passed through. It felt too heavy to be a hand. But how can you tell how much a hand weighs on it's own?

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