Celebrated crime writer Peter Lovesey brings his Bath-based detective Peter Diamond to Chichester for his latest investigation – a decidedly-tricky one.
As Peter explains: “Diamond visited the area in an earlier book, The House Sitter, but he was more at West Wittering that time. He came to the area and met Hen Mallin, the local police officer, for the first time when they had a case on which there was some overlap.
“A body had been found on the south coast, but the woman that had been killed had a connection with Bath where Diamond is based.”
This time, however, the stakes are even higher as Diamond’s boss, Georgina, the assistant chief constable – and a character with whom Diamond has a long history of friction – seconds him to come with her to Chichester where she is to investigate a police officer who has been suspended amid allegations of malpractice. That officer turns out to be Hen.
“I am frequently asked by people ‘When are you going to write another Hen Mallin book?’ But I didn’t know really that I could. At the moment, I am writing a series about this Bath detective called Peter Diamond. But then I contrived to do it. It’s quite usual for one police authority to investigate another when there is a suggestion of malpractice. The highest authority is the Independent Police Complaints Authority, but at a lower level, the police try, if they can, to investigate things themselves… and so Diamond is called upon to investigate Hen Mallin, the local CID boss, who is accused of wrong-doing. She is in trouble. Georgina is asked by the assistant chief constable of Sussex to come in, and she tells Diamond he must come with her, not immediately realising he is going to be investigating his friend of several years before…”
Peter, winner of the prestigious Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for crime writing, will discuss the book, Down Among The Dead Men, at a special event for the Festival of Chichester in Chichester Library, Tower Street, on Monday, June 29 at 7.30pm.
For the book, Peter has invented Priory Park School in Chichester and also an impressive house, scene of artists’ gatherings, at Boxgrove. Other locations are real: “I have enjoyed writing about Chichester very much,” says Peter who moved to Chichester from the Bath area nearly 20 years ago. “I have enjoyed walking around the streets of Chichester, imagining my own character here, Diamond walking out of The Ship hotel for instance. He also goes to St Richard’s Hospital to see somebody there…”
But as Peter says, there are certainly similarities between Chichester and Diamond’s more usual stomping ground in Bath: “They both have Roman parts and Georgian parts, and they are both cities you can comfortably get around without a car.”
Part also of the fun has been confining Diamond with Georgina: “It was a challenge to put them together. It has been a long series, and finding new situations helps me creatively. They are two characters with very different attitudes, but it would be rather boring if they got on well together!
“We have all worked with bosses that we seemingly respect, but who we really can’t stand!”
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