Peter Diamond, the Bath detective brilliant at rooting out murder, is peeved at being diverted to Professional Standards to enquire into a police car accident. Arriving late at the scene, he discovers an extra victim thrown onto an embankment - unconscious and unnoticed. Diamond administers CPR, but no one can say whether the elderly tricyclist will pull through.
But why had the man been out in the middle of the night with an urn containing human ashes? Diamond 's suspicions grow after he identifies the accident victim as Ivor Pellegrini, a well-known local eccentric and railway enthusiast. A search of Pellegrini's workshop proves beyond question that he is involved in a series of uninvestigated deaths. While Pellegrini lingers on life support, Diamond wrestles with the appalling possibility that he has saved the life of a serial killer. . .
I think it has been about 4 years ago that I discovered Peter Lovesey’s Peter Diamond series. Since then I have read all the books about the choleric police detective from Bath, and he has quickly become one of my favourite fictional sleuths. This is his sixteenth outing, and as usual it involves a particularly complex crime.
It is difficult to keep a series fresh over several decades. And to Peter Lovesey’s credit it must be said, that he tries coming up with something new in every instalment. This time the story takes us into the world of railway enthusiasts, people who collect train memorabilia.
The beginning is exciting enough: After a policeman is killed and another one heavily injured in a car accident Diamond is given the task of finding out what really happened. Was the elderly man found at the scene the cause of the accident? Peter Diamond has saved the man’s life, but the more he finds out about Ivor Pellegrini the weirder the case seems to be getting. Not only was he carrying an urn in his backpack, but Diamond finds two other urns hidden in the man’s home, raising questions about his character.
Pellegrini was a railway enthusiast and member of railway related clubs, in which mostly elderly people come together collecting pieces and equipment from classic trains and studying the history of old train lines. He seems like the epitome of an eccentric Englishman. However to Superintendent Peter Diamond there is something just not quite right.
Diamond is torn between the elation of saving a human life and his mounting suspicion that Pellegrini was a serial-killer, especially after coming across several printouts from websites debating the perfect murder method, which were stuffed into a drawer in the man’s workshop. Is this enough evidence? Certainly not, but when Diamond finds out that quite a few of Ivor’s friends and fellow train spotters died recently he starts feeling that he is on the right track.
With Pellegrini in hospital Diamond has to investigate without being able to question the main suspect.
Another One Goes Tonight does not quite have the freshness ad relentless pace of the best entries in this series. The narrative seems to be running in circles for some time while Diamond and his colleagues are debating whether Ivor Pellegrini may or may not be a serial murderer. This idea might seem a bit far-fetched to some readers as might the fact that Another One Goes Tonight relies heavily on coincidence, but then so did many of the classic detective novels it tries to emulate. Peter Lovesey has always been great at bringing back the feeling of a classic Agatha Christie novel, indeed his best works might be up there with the finest from the Queen of Crime or the likes of John Dickson Carr. This time however he does not quite succeed.
Some say, that modern technology with its forensics and DNA analysis has killed the classic puzzle oriented detective mystery, but Lovesey has been coming up with inventive ways for bumping off people for years. Indeed one of the most important issues of Diamond’s current investigation is whether such a thing as the perfect crime is still possible and how it can be achieved. In theory at least this might sound like pure gold for crime fiction fans, but for some reason Another One Goes Tonight just wasn’t as much fun as it should have been.
Although the ending did spring one genuine surprise regarding the identity of the murderer, the downside is, that the killer here is almost a bit too well hidden. A Person from the side-lines suddenly steps into the spotlight and since we barely knew this character until then, there is a lot of information dumped on us in the last few pages making the finale seem a bit convoluted.
Another One Goes Tonight is a fun old-fashioned British detective novel. But compared to Lovesey’s own stellar back catalogue it is just about solid.