... an almost nonstop giggle, as well as a classic police detection episode with this British Detective Superintendent. It’s the perfect prescription for those who’ve been taking their lives (or their crime fiction reading) too seriously ... Readers of classic detective fiction can giggle and guffaw as they ride shotgun with this new wacky character, recognizing his American PI heroes well before the British police team grapples with what Johnny’s attempting to copy ... Through the nonstop campy humor runs a solid and clever little mystery, with some great red herrings and a fine twist before solution ... It’s the nature of a series to leave the reader suspecting there is more to come of this frustrating and funny pairing in Peter Lovesey’s books to come.
Mr. Lovesey excels at mixing character-driven humor with legitimate suspense. The early Diamond books presented the inspector as the last of the old-time detectives, impatient with (or flummoxed by) new policing techniques. But in more recent entries, and especially this one, Diamond demonstrates noticeable growth. He pays attention to colleagues’ feelings, gives brusque credit where it’s due.
The search for Seppy and what looks more and more like an exceptionally valuable painting he’d purchased from buyers who hadn’t a clue what they were selling would be routine, at least by Lovesey’s high standards, if Johnny didn’t keep interrupting the flow of the procedural with first-person chapters in his own pungent style, floridly reminiscent of the fictional American shamuses he clearly wishes he were one of ... A mundane plot juiced by those unwelcome hangers-on.