Peter Diamond, British detective extraordinaire, must dig deep into Bath history to ferret out the secrets of one of its most famous (and scandalous) icons: Richard “Beau” Nash, who might be the victim of a centuries old murder.
Bath, England: A wrecking crew is demolishing a row of townhouses in order to build a grocery store when they uncover a skeleton in one of the attics. The dead man is wearing authentic 1760s garb and on the floor next to it is a white tricorn hat—the ostentatious signature accessory of Beau Nash, one of Bath’s most famous historical men-about-town, a fashion icon and incurable rake who, some say, ended up in a pauper’s grave. Or did the Beau actually end up in a townhouse attic? The Beau Nash Society will be all in a tizzy when the truth is revealed to them.
Superintendent Peter Diamond, who has been assigned to identify the remains, starts making discoveries that turn Nash scholarship on its ear. But one of his constables is stubbornly insisting the corpse can’t be Nash’s—the non-believer threatens to spoil Diamond’s favorite theory, especially when he offers some pretty irrefutable evidence. Is Diamond on a historical goose chase? Should he actually be investigating a much more modern murder?
About the Author
Peter Lovesey is the author of more than thirty highly praised mystery novels. He has been awarded the CWA Gold and Silver Daggers, the Cartier Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement, the Strand Magazine Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards, and many other honors. He lives in West Sussex, England.
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Excerpted from "Beau Death"
Copyright © 2018 Peter Lovesey.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Set in Bath and echoing with the lives and machinations of history, Peter Lovesey’s Beau Death introduces readers to Beau Nash, that famous master of Ceremonies who turned Bath from a nowhere town into the arbiter of 18th century taste and behavior. But this novel’s set in the present, and Inspector Diamond is called to investigate a blend of modern and ancient murder when a very dead corpse is revealed in a very empty house. Offering fascinating details of history, investigation, pathology and more, the author takes readers on a tour of the famous city, with secrets of its past revealed just as naturally as those of the protagonist’s. This isn’t the first Peter Diamond mystery, but readers new the series will be quickly drawn in. The blend of erudite and mundane is nicely paralleled in past and present, rich and poor, and in relationships both on and off the police force, all convincingly drawn. The result is an enjoyable mystery, with plenty of information naturally given, plus the added enticement of pleasingly amusing situations, dead ends, dead bodies, and enthralling details. A perfect blend of modern knowledge, historical depth, and investigative process, Beau Death is classic English detective fiction with a thoroughly classical twist. A great read. Disclosure: A friend recommended it. Now I’m hooked and eager to read more of the series.
I have read all of the Peter Diamond series and they only get better. The characters are so real it is easy to read yourself into the story. I look forward to more of Peter Diamonds cases.
Love all of Peter Lovesay’s Bath series.
From the publisher: A wrecking crew demolishing a row of centuries-old townhouses in Bath, England uncovers a body in one of the condemned buildings’ attics. The dead man has been in the attic a long time: all that’s left is a skeleton dressed in authentic 1760s garb, and a distinctive white tricorn hat. Could the body be that of Richard “Beau” Nash, Bath’s most famous historical dandy, the 18th-century Master of Ceremonies who turned Bath into the Georgian-era fashion icon it became, only to fall on hard times and supposedly be buried in a pauper’s grave? Thrilled by the possibility of proving the body is the Beau, Detective Peter Diamond rushes to learn all he can about the famed Beau and what became of him, but is he on a historical goose chase? Diamond undertakes painstaking and very impressive research into all sorts of aspects of the people and events during the time frame in question, including the underwear worn by them, and eventually to try to pinpoint who was, or was not, the victim. The demolition is taking place as the novel opens. An observer sees, “in the attic of the end house, now ripped open, a crumpled figure in an armchair. The dust from the demolition had coated it liberally and it was a parody of the human form held together by what appeared to be long outmoded garments.” It immediately appears that the man is “spectacularly, irreversibly, abso-bloody-lutely dead. As Diamond observes, “He’s been out of it a few years. A few hundred years, if his clothes are anything to go by.” What immediately concerns him is “why hadn’t anyone gone looking for him? A missing person must have caused some concern, even a century or more before the police were created.” A challenge to the famed detective, at the very least. As he says to a colleague, “it’s a cold case and they don’t come colder than this . . . Anyone can see it’s an ancient set of bones. It’s history, almost archaeology.” The first thing to be determined is whether or not it’s murder. When, soon after this discovery, there is another, current, murder. “Two sets of clues, two grids and two solutions. Or perhaps one grid after all, one diabolically difficult cryptic challenge.” He finds himself “dealing with two cases twenty years apart.” The author really makes 18th century Bath come alive, and this fascinating novel is recommended.