RogerBW's Blog

The Headhunters, Peter Lovesey 04 October 2015

2008 mystery. A woman is found on the beach at Selsey, drowned – forcibly. But she isn't going to be the only victim.

As Lovesey has done before in this series, the narrative is split, between Hen Mallin and the police investigation on one side and new characters on the other, in this case a woman named Jo and her friends the wild and crazy Gemma, the bumptious Rick and the quiet and sinister Jake. Jo discovers the first body (and indeed the second), and since the group have been joking about the subject of murdering Gemma's too-"nice" boss she's already on edge when she has to talk to the police. Then it turns out that Jake has form, and has become the prime suspect; as she gets more involved with him, she's increasingly desperate to prove him innocent, and enlists the others in the effort.

There's a bit of a characterisation problem with the young people, not entirely surprising as Lovesey was 72 when this book came out. All four are supposedly in their mid-thirties, but they come over as early twenties at the latest, doing basic post-student jobs and going out clubbing every night.

Given the information, which the police of course don't have, that the killer(s) will turn out to be people who are already in the book, it's pretty obvious where the finger should be pointed, and there's no great surprise in the resolution even though there are plenty of people who might have been involved in one or more of the deaths.

There is some unflagged coincidence in the final explanation that seemed to be a bit much, but the results of it are consistent with the established characters, so I'll forgive Lovesey for that. Alas, the police remain underdeveloped, being more collections of personality traits than the interesting character who was introduced in The House Sitter.

Still very enjoyable, and I wish Lovesey had written more of this series, but I'd prefer them if he'd focused more on the police – though that might have made them too much like the Peter Diamond books.

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