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"These erudite and wondrously witty books are unlike any police procedural you've ever read. THE TOOTH TATTOO is a case in point.... The murder investigation provides the structural framework for a group portrait of the eccentric members of this captivating ensemble and the music they play with such rapturous devotion."
—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"Ingenious .... Lovers of good music and a good mystery should not miss this delightful tale."
—Washington Post Book World
"A particularly crafty resolution of the enigmatic mystery shows that this long-running series still has plenty of life."
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Identifying the culprit takes something of a back seat to descriptions of the quartet and the difficult music its members play.... The insights into the personal dynamics of a string quartet are fascinating.
—PG Koch, The Houston Chronicle
"Lovesey is a puzzle master, and readers will happily chase his adroitly placed clues.... But Lovesey’s knowledge of classical music and his skill in describing it make 'The Tooth Tattoo' especially memorable and informative."
“Lovesey is the real deal .... [The Diamond novels] are deftly plotted, with strong characters and a good dollop of dry humor, especially the (generally) good-natured sniping among the members of his team.”
—The Seattle Times
"The old master does not disappoint. The Tooth Tattoo is a bravura performance." —Reviewing the Evidence
“I won’t string you along. I won’t be Haydn my feelings about the book, which I did enjoy very much. So just fugue-et about them and appreciate another entertaining Peter Diamond novel.”
—Ted Hertel, Deadly Pleasures
Praise for the Peter Diamond series
"Lovesey is a master."
"Witty.... A perfectly realized murder mystery."
—The Wall Street Journal
"Extremely stylish ... utterly surprising."
"A bravura performance from a veteran showman."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Thickly textured, amusing, unpredictably mixing puzzle and procedural.... One of the best."
—Los Angeles Times
'How much longer does it last?' Paloma Kean asked Peter Diamond.
'Aren't you enjoying it?'
'I'm trying not to breathe.'
Diamond felt in his pocket and produced a tube of peppermints. 'The man who thinks of everything.'
'Thanks, but an oxygen mask would be better.'
There are days when the Vienna sewer tour is more odorous than others. Wise tourists take note of the humidity before booking. Diamond and Paloma, on their weekend city break, had no choice, Saturday afternoon or nothing. It happened that this Saturday in July was warm, with a thunderstorm threatening. Even Diamond had noticed that the smell was not Chanel No. 5.
'After this, you'll appreciate the Ferris wheel,' he told her.
She was silent. She'd brought this on herself when reminding him that his favourite film, The Third Man, was set in Vienna. At the time, she'd congratulated herself for thinking of it. Otherwise they wouldn't have been here.
The adventure had begun back in April with a scratch-card she had found on the floor of his car. Diamond hadn't bothered to check it. He'd said they were giving them away at the petrol station.
She'd revealed three matching symbols and told him he was a winner.
She had insisted on phoning the number on the back of the card.
Deeply sceptical, Diamond had told her, 'That's how they make their money.'
But it had turned out that he really had won a weekend break for two in a city of his choice: Paris, Amsterdam or Vienna. True to form, he'd dismissed Europe's historic capitals with a dogmatic, 'I don't do abroad.'
'Come on,' Paloma had said. 'Lighten up, Peter. This could be so romantic.'
'I'm too busy at work.' Work for Diamond was heading the CID section at
Bath police station. There were always matters to be investigated.
Then Paloma had remembered The Third Man and whistled the Harry Lime
'What did you say those cities were?' he'd said, looking up.
And here they were trudging through a reeking sewer with a bunch of elderly tourists carrying flashlights. At intervals everyone stopped to be shown a clip of the film projected on to the brick wall opposite. Paloma could see Diamond's lips move silently in sync with the soundtrack. 'It's the main sewer. Runs into the blue Danube.'
So obviously was he relishing the experience that it would have been churlish to complain.
The day had started agreeably enough in the Cafe Mozart, another of the film locations. The coffee and Sachertorte were expensive, even for a couple used to Bath prices, but Diamond had basked in the ambience and said the experience was worth every Euro and talked about Graham Greene being a regular there in 1947 when he was researching the story. From there they'd moved on to a side street off the
Naschmarkt and he'd stressed how fortunate they were to be here on a Saturday, the only day of the week the Third Man Museum opened. Displayed along with countless stills and posters was the actual zither Anton Karas had used to play the haunting theme. You could select from four hundred cover versions of the tune. Paloma had left the place with a headache that Diamond said was surely something to do with the weather. A short walk had brought them to Esperanto park and the brick-built spiral staircase down to the oldest part of Vienna's sewer system. Proceedings underground had begun with a film explaining how the cholera epidemic of 1830 had made a better sanitation system necessary. Then, after warnings to watch their footing, the guide had led them into the glistening brick-lined drains.
Atmospheric? Paloma couldn't argue with that. She just wished every film clip wasn't punctuated with another head-numbing burst of the zither music.
'Are you enjoying this?' she asked Diamond in the faint hope that he'd had enough.
There was no opting out. This was not the best place to get lost if she tried returning to the stairs.
'How's your head now?' Diamond asked.
'About the same.'
'I think I should warn you that at the end of the tour a man dressed as Harry
Lime steps out and fires a gun at us.'
'I can't wait.'
That evening at the Prater they rode the Riesenrad, the giant Ferris wheel that had featured in the film. The worst of the clouds had rolled away to the south and
Paloma's headache had departed with them. She was actually enjoying the ride in the rickety old cabin. They were definitely cabins and not pods or capsules. Each was a little room like a railway compartment with a curved roof and windows. They shared theirs with an elderly man in a brown Tyrolean hat with a feather trim who was at the far end surveying the view with a benign smile. Below, ribbons of light stretched to infinity. The wheel itself periodically flashed silver and gold.
'I don't really mind hearing it again,' she told Diamond with a smile.
'The Harry Lime speech about Switzerland, five hundred years of brotherly love, democracy and peace producing the cuckoo clock.'
'I was going to spare you that. It wasn't in the original script, you know.'
'You tell me that each time.'
'Orson Welles - '
He placed a hand over hers. 'You've shown the patience of a saint all day.'
'If I'm honest, I haven't been feeling that way,' she said. 'But I can see how much it means to you, reliving the film.'
'The old black and white movies have got it for me.'
'I know. Giant shadows, sudden shafts of light.'
He took a deep, appreciative breath. 'Like the night scene when Lime appears in the doorway.'
'With a blast of zither music just in case anyone in the cinema isn't paying attention.'
'Er, yes. Well, it is called the Harry Lime Theme.'
'And you grew up with it.'
He baulked at that. 'The film was released before I was born. Orson Welles was old enough to have been my grandfather.'
'But that scene gets to me every time.'
He frowned. 'Why do you say that?'
'Harry Lime was the villain, selling adulterated penicillin. You're supposed to be on the opposite side. You should identify with the Joseph Cotten character.'
'But Welles had all the charisma. The film is clever, playing with your loyalties.'
She tried to see it from his point of view. 'I suppose as a policeman you have to get inside the minds of bad people.'
'Sometimes - but you aren't supposed to admire them. Each time I see it, I
really want him to stay at liberty. And today we walked in his footsteps.'
'With great care, watching where we trod,' Paloma said.
There was a movement at the far end of the cabin. The elderly man turned from the window and raised his hat. He may even have clicked his heels. 'Excuse me.
I heard what you said. You were talking about the sewers, am I right?'
'You are,' Paloma said. 'We did the tour this afternoon.'
'It wasn't Orson Welles.'
There was an awkward silence.
'Believe me, it was,' Diamond told him. 'I've seen that film more times than I
care to count.'
'Mr Welles took one look and refused to work in such a place,' the old man said.
Diamond was speechless, shaking his head.
'Most of the scenes featuring him were filmed with a double, or in Shepperton studio in England.' The old man seemed to know what he was talking about.
Paloma laughed. 'Do you mean we traipsed through all those dreadful-
smelling tunnels for no reason at all?'
'I wouldn't say that,' the old man said. 'They did hours of filming down there,
but little, if any, with Orson Welles.'
'He was being difficult at the time, playing—what is the expression?—hard to get. He had an agreement with Mr Korda, the producer, to star in three films, but nothing much had come of it and he was annoyed. This was only a cameo role. He is on screen for less than ten minutes of the entire film. I believe he was taken down to the sewer once to see a place where water cascaded from one of the ducts. Harry
Lime was supposed to run underneath and get drips running down his face. Welles absolutely refused.'
'You seem to know a lot about it.'
'I'm a Viennese. It's part of our city history.'
'So they built a studio mock-up of the sewer?' Paloma said, and she seemed to be leading him on.
'That is my understanding.'
Determined not to have his day spoilt, Diamond rubbed his hands and said with conviction, 'Well, at least Orson Welles did what we're doing now - rode the
The old man turned and looked out of the window again. 'Have you heard of back projection? Look carefully next time you watch the film.'
Back in their hotel room, Paloma saw how deflated Diamond was and said, 'We've only got his word for it.'
'He seemed to know what he was talking about. I did read once that they shot parts of the film at Shepperton.'
'Bits, I expect. It was the way they worked. It's still a classic.'
'You're right about that.'
'Silly old man. I bet he rides the damn Ferris wheel for hours on end lying in wait for fans like us.'
'Do you think so?'
'Destroying people's illusions - that's his game. Don't let him ruin our day,
Peter. We did the tour. We visited the right places. You'll spot them next time you see the film.'
He was grateful for her words. Paloma was a terrific support. She knew how his pleasure in the day had been undermined. And the weekend hadn't offered much for her to enjoy. He'd been planning to fit in a visit to another of the film locations -
the cemetery - next morning and now he changed his mind. 'I'm going to suggest we do something different tomorrow. Our flight home isn't until the evening. Let's make it your day. How would you like to spend it?'
She took off her shoes and flopped back on the bed, hands clasped behind her head. 'That's a lovely suggestion. Let me give it serious thought.'
'There's some wine left. I'll pour you a drink while you decide.'
'Now you're talking.'
But when he returned from the bathroom with the two glasses, Paloma's eyes were closed and she was breathing evenly. It had been an exhausting day.
Over coffee next morning in a small shop near the hotel with a display of irresistible fruit tarts, they debated how to spend their last hours in Vienna. 'Knowing you,' she said, 'and I don't mean to sound offensive, you may not be too thrilled about this. So many great musicians lived and composed their masterpieces here. Could we find
'Why not?' he said, doing his best to sound enthusiastic. 'Where is it?'
They opened their map and asked the waitress, but she didn't seem to understand.
'We need a phrasebook,' Diamond muttered.
From behind them a voice said, 'If it's Beethoven's house you want, you have about forty to choose from in Vienna. He was constantly on the move.'
'Excuse me?' Diamond turned in his chair, peeved that somebody had been eavesdropping.
The speaker wasn't the old man from the Ferris wheel, but he could have been his brother. He had the same gnomish look and a voice like a scraper stripping wallpaper. Probably a Tyrolean hat was tucked under the table on one of the other chairs.
'There are two of any note,' the man went on. 'The first is the Beethoven
Memorial House, but you are too late for that. It is closed this month. The other is the
Pasqualati House where he composed his fourth, fifth and sixth symphonies and the opera Fidelio.'
'That'll do us,' Diamond said. 'Is it open?'
'I believe so.'
'Where exactly is it?'
'Before you dash off, I think I should inform you that Beethoven didn't actually live there.'
'I thought you said he did.'
'The rooms open to visitors are furnished to look as if Beethoven was the tenant, but in reality his home was in the adjacent flat - which is privately owned and not open to the public.'
It was like being told Orson Welles hadn't run through the sewers.
'I give up,' Diamond said. 'Where do we go to see something authentic in this city?'
'Some of the exhibits are authentic. The salt and pepper pots unquestionably belonged to Beethoven.'
'Big deal,' Diamond murmured to Paloma.
'You asked where it is,' the old man said. 'You'll find it west of Freyung. This is an old part of the city. You go up a cobbled lane called Schreyvogelgasse to the
Molker Bastei and the Pasqualati House is there. I'll show you.'
'Is it worth it?' Diamond asked Paloma, but she had already passed their map across.
'Here.' A bony finger pinned down the map. 'At the western margin of the
'Some way off, then,' Diamond said. 'Maybe we should choose another composer's house.'
'This is Schreyvogelgasse. As you pass along, you may wish to glance at number eight. The doorway is famous. It's where Harry Lime first appears in that film,
The Third Man.'
Diamond's eyes widened.
'It looks as if we'll be going there after all,' Paloma said.
In the taxi, Diamond said, 'I'm beginning to understand. They post little old men all over the city to bring innocent tourists down to earth with a bump.'
'He was trying to be helpful.'
'So was the guy on the Ferris wheel. There are some things I'd rather not be helped with.'
'That's rich - from a professional detective.'
'A secret romantic.'
Her eyebrows popped up.
In the cobbled street she told him to stand in the doorway of number eight for a photo.
'I can't. It's so cheesy.'
'But you want to.'
He didn't need any more persuading. He took up the pose, even giving his straw hat a rakish tilt.
The Beethoven house pleased Paloma. There was a good atmosphere and enough genuine relics to make the old man's criticisms unimportant. 'To think Fidelio was created here,' she said.
'It doesn't seem to matter any more. Are you impressed? I'm sure I can feel his presence.'
'It's not my strongest suit, classical music,' he admitted.
'What is, apart from the Harry Lime Theme?'
'Queen's greatest hits, I suppose.'
'I can see I'll have to work on you.'
'You can try. It's still your day. How shall we spend our last couple of hours here?'
'Let's take a look at the Danube. Is it really blue? We haven't seen it by daylight.'
The nearest bridge wasn't far from their hotel. They packed, cleared their room, left the cases in a storeroom and strolled down Schwedenplatz.
'You're not going to believe this,' Diamond said, studying the map. 'It isn't actually the Danube.'
'It's the Danube canal. The river is way off to the north-east.'
'Second best as usual, then.'
Blue the water was, under a clear sky. They walked to the centre of the bridge and watched the shipping gliding underneath. A breeze ruffled Paloma's hair.
'This has been a treat,' she said, linking her arm with his.
'All of it?'
'Every minute, now I look back. We got you out of the CID room for a whole weekend. Go on, admit it, you needed the break.'
'It's done me good,' he said.
'And all because of that scratch-card. Next time we shouldn't rely on a piece of luck. I'll try persuading you to look at a travel brochure.'
'Don't push it.'
With more time in hand they bought ice creams and took a walk along the embankment.
'Look, someone's dropped some flowers,' Paloma said as they approached a point where some steps led down to a mooring. A bunch of pinkish-white flowers wrapped in paper was lying on the pavement. When they got closer, they saw more flowers pressed into the lattice mouldings in the wall. Most were dead carnations. 'It must have fallen out.' She stooped to lodge the fresh flowers back into a space in the stonework. They were star-shaped with long, yellow-tipped stamens. 'The scent is powerful. Must be some type of lily. The place has been made into a little shrine. Do you think someone drowned here?'
'Hard to say,' he said, wanting to lighten the mood. 'Where are the little old men of Vienna when we need one?'
'There's a card with one of these dead bunches, some kind of message. But it isn't in German. I think it's Japanese.'
Posted May 16, 2013
I don't agree with the other 2 reviewers...this is another example to Lovesey's excellent style and creative set-ups.
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Posted October 4, 2013
Posted August 18, 2013
Posted June 30, 2013
The discussions of music and the music world are fun. (The mother of one of the victims is herself an expert violinist who studied at a Japanese music college: "Suzuki trained." Hey, that's possible.) But the solution to the book's mystery seems arbitrary, and the author's Japanese English ranges from unlikely ("You don't know who I am, dumbo!") to offensively bad (no sample here). He does, however, acknowledge that sushi is a rice dish.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 28, 2013
The bad thing about reading Peter Lovesey’s books is that they end. This was particularly true of
The Tooth Tattoo, which I could have kept reading for weeks without my attention flagging -- even though the book is about music, people who love music, people who love people who love music, and people who kill people who love music. I, personally, am not a great fan of string quartets, around which the action in this novels orbits. Which is why I was so surprised that The Tooth Tattoo held my attention throughout. I didn't even skim over the Beethoven parts! I was stunned by the depth of the author’s knowledge and by his empathy with musicians. His plotting was that of a true master craftsman. When, regretfully, I finished the last page, the first words that jumped into my mind were, "This is a perfect, classic mystery novel." And it is. Get your copy of the book now…with my blessings. Happy Reading!
Posted May 8, 2013
Posted May 8, 2013
I love Lovesey's books but the tooth tattoo was a little slow for me. There are two murders being investigated one in the present and one in the past. At the center of the story is a classical quartet who is looking for a viola player. This is where I got bored, pages and pages of discussion about music. I must say that I did enjoy the usual banter of Diamond and his squad and will continue to read Lovesey, This one gets an OK from me.
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