The Vault (Peter Diamond Series #6)

The Vault (Peter Diamond Series #6)

4.5 7
by Peter Lovesey
     
 

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A skeletal hand is unearthed in the vault under the Pump Room in Bath, England, near the site where Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. Then a skull is excavated. The bones came from different corpses, and one is modern. Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond must solve a series of crimes including murder and forgery, requiring a knowledge of history,

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Overview

A skeletal hand is unearthed in the vault under the Pump Room in Bath, England, near the site where Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. Then a skull is excavated. The bones came from different corpses, and one is modern. Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond must solve a series of crimes including murder and forgery, requiring a knowledge of history, nineteenth century art, literature . . . and human nature.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for The Vault
 
“Exquisitely intricate.”
The New York Times Book Review

“One of the delights of contemporary crime fiction.”
The Wall Street Journal

“The story crackles with wit and urbanity, snappy dialogue and deeper, fouler doings . . . A stunning tale of the macabre and the mundane.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Everything the cerebral puzzle addict craves, from tempting red herrings to literary arcana to deliciously plotted surprises.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Diamond hunts for a missing professor on the trail of Mary Shelley’s diary. Lovesey interweaves the two stories with effortless skill.”
The Times

“It looks deceptively easy, but this is an author who excels at his craft and keeps coming up with books that entertain and puzzle.”
Sunday Telegraph

Tom Nolan
The Vault displays Peter Lovesey's delicate balance of humor and suspense—one of the delights of contemporary crime fiction.
Wall Street Journal
New York Times Book Review
Exquisitely intricate.
Wall Street Journal
Displays Peter Lovesey's delicate balance of humor and suspense — one of the delights of contemporary crime fiction.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in 1990s Bath, England (to call the setting modern-day would be misleading, given the moldy ambiance), Lovesey's latest police procedural--featuring his best-known "copper," the oversized and grumpy Peter Diamond--deftly blends Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, William Blake and '60's hard-rock music. (At one point Diamond drives down the highway lustily singing Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust.") This story of severed appendages and missing heads moves from the subterranean crypt where Ms. Shelley's pen brought her monster alive, to Peg Redbird's shady antique business, Noble and Nude, and eventually to a pub called--with typical Lovesey humor--the Brains Surgery. American literature professor Joe Dougan and his twittery wife, Donna, arrive in Bath to explore bookstores and boutiques, when corpses begin to litter the landscape. Danger besets them in the form of an attacker who likes to bludgeon his victims and fantasizes himself to be Shelley's monster. Then Donna disappears. As always with this Golden Dagger Award-winning author, the story crackles with wit and urbanity, snappy dialogue and deeper, fouler doings whispering from the wings. Diamond and his put-upon sidekicks, Leaman and Halliwell, chase a madman whose musings tantalize at intervals, while Dougan searches desperately for his absent spouse. This is a stunning tale of the macabre and the mundane. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
This sixth novel in the series featuring Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond by much-acclaimed crime writer Lovesey (who won the CWA/Diamond Dagger Lifetime Achievement Award) opens with the unearthing of a skeletal hand. Linking this discovery to a murder, Lovesey (Upon a Dark Night) masterfully unites two separate crimes with several subplots to create a surprising and convoluted ending. Set in Bath, England, The Vault delves into the rich, historical world of antique dealers and antiquarian book collectors. Diamond, the complex hero of these carefully plotted novels, displays brilliant Holmesian investigative skill, combined with a generous disregard for police politics and a naughty sense of humor. Essential for popular fiction collections, especially those public libraries that maintain a healthy mystery/crime fiction section.--Zaheera Jiwaji, Edmonton, Alberta Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
Nobody is better at misdirecting the gentle reader and snaking together multiple storylines than the wily Lovesey, who in his sixth case for Peter Diamond, tendentious head of Bath's Murder Squad (Upon a Dark Night, 1998, etc.), unearths various body parts underneath number five, Abbey Churchyard, the former home of Frankenstein's creator Mary Shelley. While the tabloids spout ghoulish headlines connecting the bones to Shelleyan monsters, American professor Joe Dougan and his shopaholic wife Donna are hot on the trail of real Shelley artifacts, including a book with the author's inscription on the flyleaf and her writing desk. Soon after the desk disappears from antiques dealer Peg Redbird's shop, as do several illustrations for Frankenstein that may be the work of William Blake, Redbird dies, the professor's wife disappears, and one of the suspects, Councillor John Sturr, produces a suspiciously unimpeachable alibi: he was attending a party at the assistant chief constable's home. Meanwhile, Diamond ties those rattling Churchyard bones into the disappearance of a young man 25 years ago, practically yesterday in Shelley history. Before a name can be attached to the severed hands, though, and villains past and present held accountable, Diamond's nemesis Inspector Wigfull will be hospitalized, and snoopy journalist Ingeborg Smith will switch careers and abet the Murder Squad.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781569472569
Publisher:
Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
07/01/2003
Series:
Peter Diamond Series, #6
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
344,777
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


Some weird objects are handed in at 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 Roman Baths."

    "What is it?"

    The man glanced at the other people in the waiting area 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 tellhow much a hand weighs on its own?

    He opened one end. "It looks more like a chunk of concrete to me." He let it slide out onto the desk.

    "Ugh!" said Enid Kelly, beside him.

    "Get a grip."

    The hand was skeletal, enclosed in a thin casing of concrete or cement that had partially collapsed. Some of the small bones had broken off and were lying loose. Shreds of what looked like dry skin tissue were attached. It could have passed for a damaged piece of sculpture.

    "Where exactly did you find it, sir?"

    "In vault. I am stepping on floor and my foot sinks through."

    WPC Kelly winced again.

    "Down in the Roman Baths, you said?"

    "This was not exhibition area, sir. This was vault."

    "So you said. What do you mean by vault? A cellar?"

    "Cellar—what is that? Excuse my poor English. I am doing security check this morning. My first week in job. I have strict orders from head man, Mr Peacock. 'You visit all parts of building. All parts. Go through entire building every day.'"

    The sergeant picked up the thing and felt its weight again. "So is it Roman?"

    "I can't tell you, sir."

    The sergeant didn't commit himself either, except to suggest nobody else went down into the vault until the matter had been investigated.


* * *


The bony hand, resting on its pizza box, was deposited on Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond's desk.

    "What's this—a finger buffet?"

    "The thing is, sir, we don't know if it's a matter for us," the sergeant explained. "It was found at the Roman Baths."

    "Give it to the museum."

    "It wasn't in the Roman bit. This vault is part of a later building, as I understand it."

    "Medieval?"

    "When's medieval?"

    "Later than Roman," said Diamond in a tone suggesting he could have said more, but needed to press on. "Where exactly is the vault?"

    "On the Abbey side, below street level."

    "But what street?"

    "Not a street, in point of fact," the sergeant said. "That square in front of the Abbey."

    "The Abbey Churchyard?"

    "Yes."

    Diamond spread his hands as if no more needed to be said.

    The sergeant frowned.

    Plainly something did need to be said. "If you're looking for old bones, where do you go?"

    The penny dropped. "Funny," said the sergeant. "Being paved over, I never think of it as a churchyard. You can use a word a thousand times and never give a thought to its meaning."

    The wisdom of this failed to impress Peter Diamond. "Leave it with me. It'll come in useful as a paperweight." Seeing the shocked look this produced, he added, "And Sergeant ..."

    "Sir?"

    "Thanks."

    "What for?"

    "Giving me a hand."

    The sergeant's attempt at a laugh was unconvincing.

    Diamond leaned back in his chair. He was ready with a dozen more hand jokes. Twenty, no problem, he thought bleakly. Without a murder to occupy him, he could spend the rest of the afternoon playing word-games. Life at Manvers Street had become a doddle in recent weeks. His murder squad urgently needed some employment. A bony relic from the Roman Baths was unlikely to produce much of that. The most exciting event all summer had been a bomb scare in the Pump Room. An abandoned briefcase had been spotted there one Friday morning. The centre of Bath, the Abbey and the Roman Baths, was cordoned off, causing maximum disruption. The army bomb disposal squad was summoned from Salisbury. The experts decided on a controlled explosion. A robot trundled across to the suspect briefcase. The blast brought down part of a chandelier and showered the Pump Room with cut glass and fragments of Offenbach and Chopin. The briefcase had belonged to one of the Pump Room musicians.

    When the desk sergeant had gone, Diamond took another look at the hand. If it was ancient, how had it come to be encased in concrete? Just to be sure, he arranged for the thing to be delivered to the pathologist at the Royal United who generally dealt with unidentified bodies.

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