“She had come alive for him, a recognizable human being from seven centuries ago.” – The Stone Wife, by Peter Lovesey

October 13, 2014 at 6:54 pm (Anglophilia, Book review, books, Mystery fiction, The British police procedural)

I finished this a while ago, but the pleasure of Peter Lovesey’s ingenious plotting and witty dialog has stayed with me. As is frequently the case with books in this series, the opening scene delivers a palpable shock, with sudden violence erupting in an ultra civilized venue.

Chaucer on horseback

The novel is enriched with the lore and legend of Geoffrey Chaucer. The eponymous stone wife is, in fact, a sculpted figure purportedly of the Wife of Bath, one of the more memorable, one could  say more colorful, of the pilgrims who inhabit The Canterbury Tales. As Peter Diamond’s investigation progresses, one of the more important witnesses to emerge is the murder victim’s ex-wife. She proves to be a multiply married woman who, as she approaches late middle age, is yet possessed of a healthy libido. She is, in other words, something of a modern day Wife of Bath.

For me, one of the special pleasures of this book was the fact that although most of it takes place in Bath, excursions are made to Bristol. At least one scene takes place at he Clifton Suspension Bridge. I was privileged to see this engineering marvel for myself in 2011. The day was windy, so I declined the guide’s invitation to walk across, but my game husband and several others in our group made the trek.

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Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a diminutive man (just over five feet tall) with outsize ambition and the abilities to with it.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, designer of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, a diminutive man (just over five feet tall) with outsize ambition and the talent to match

With every new entry, this series just gets better and better. Skeleton Hill, Stagestruck, Cop To Corpse, The Tooth Tattoo – all were excellent.  With The Stone Wife,  Peter Lovesey has once again surpassed himself. As if you hadn’t guessed by now – highly recommended!

lovesey-stonewife

8 Comments

  1. kdwisni said,

    I’m always up for a new Peter Lovesey! Thanks for the preview.

  2. WORDMAN said,

    I’m going to try Skeleton Hill. Have never read Lovesey.

  3. WORDMAN said,

    I read a few reviews just now, and they all say to start at the beginning with The Last Detective. What say you?

    • Roberta Rood said,

      Going back to The Last Detective will provide you with lots of wonderful reading. That novel, and Th Summons and Bloodhounds, are especially enjoyable. But I don’t think it’s necessary to go that far back. You could start with The Vault and work your forward from there, and you would not miss anything crucial.
      Actually, I think this is a series in which you could jump in anywhere and still have an excellent reading experience.

  4. Carol said,

    I have yet to read THE TOOTH TATTOO! So many series, so little time – even in retirement.

  5. kdwisni said,

    The Tooth Tatoo is not to be missed if you like Chamber Music. It offers unparalleled insight into the interactions of the musicians; it would be great even without the murder.

  6. Alex said,

    Lovesey is a name I know but I have never read any of his work. Is this a good place to start or would you recommend something else? I shall certainly point a friend of mine in the direction of this one as she is searching for rewordings on Chaucer’s tales and I know she is particularly interested in the Wife of Bath.

    • Roberta Rood said,

      Alex, Wordman asked me the same question regarding where to begin with the Peter Diamond series. If you look at Comment number 3, above, you can read my answer.

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