Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Book review : The Secret Hangman - Peter Lovesey


The Secret Hangman is the first book by Peter Lovesey that I have come across - I think it was a random pick from The Works in their 3-for-£5 offer - but he has a huge back catalogue that you can check out. He is best known for writing two series, one featuring Sergeant Cribb, a Victorian-era police detective based in London, and the other Peter Diamond, a modern-day police detective in Bath. The Secret Hangman falls into this latter category and is the ninth book in the series - a series which contains a whopping nineteen titles, the last of which was released this year. If that's not impressive enough, his son, Phil Lovesey, also writes crime novels. Despite all this, I enjoyed the book, even without having any of the background. The only thing that I would assume I have missed out on is the tale of his wife's death, as he is a widow in this book. I'd be intrigued to find out what happened to her, but not knowing certainly didn't detract from thoroughly enjoying this book.

Peter is happy enough on his lonesome, but a trip to the supermarket that ends in disaster brings a new woman into his life. He is also receiving some rather unwelcome anonymous gifts and messages from a secret admirer at work. His woman troubles continue with his slightly condescending boss, who wants him to look into the missing daughter of one of her choir friends. 

Things take a turn for the worse when a woman's body is discovered hanging from a swing in a playground, with a suspicious second ligature mark that suggests this wasn't a suicide. As another body is discovered, Peter isn't sure if things are as simple as his boss assumes, and decides to investigate further before everything is filed away as a solved case. With his trusty team of detectives, they manage to uncover the details of another pair of supposed suicides, whose deaths tie in with this new loss of life. What if there's a serial killer on the loose ? 

Peter is a believable and appealing character, happy enough to bend the rules when he thinks his boss is wrong and things need checking out, but ultimately a kind-hearted and trustworthy character. Despite the multiple deaths, the storytelling avoids the excesses of violence that crime fiction sometimes falls into. Think more along the lines of an Agatha Christie whodunnit that an all-guns-blazing Hollywood crime flick ! I'd definitely be interested in reading more of the series and finding out more about the homely detective Peter Diamond.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback : 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0751539600
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0751539608
  • Product Dimensions : 19.8 x 2.2 x 12.6 cm
  • Publisher : Sphere; paperback / softback Edition (3 April 2008)
  • Language: : English


  1. I'm not sure if I've read any of Peter Lovesey's books, but his name sounds familiar. I like the sound of the Victorian-based detective series, so will keep an eye on it. 19 books in the Bath series sounds very impressive.

  2. I'm not familiar with this author, although I read quite a bit of crime fiction. The Victorian detective series sounds interesting, I shall have to keep an eye out for his books next time I visit a charity bookshop.


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