I love a good detective story!
The mysterious beginning line: "Something's up with Santa" proved to be my undoing. I admit to a low level of resistance when it comes to reading a good mystery. Combine that with a book of short stories written by an author famous for detectives that rely on deductive skills rather than forensic science, and I was hooked, line and sinker in Peter Lovesey's murderous plans gang aft agley.
Lovesey's collection of mystery shorts published in various magazines between 1994 and 1997, is titled, Do Not Exceed the Stated Dose. This book gives a fair glimpse of his detectives along with samples of old-fashioned deductive reasoning. The watchword here is to expect surprise twists in his plot lines, such as one deftly acted out by the loving couple with "Never a Cross Word" between them.
Peter Lovesey, still alive and well, is a contemporary of Agatha Christie. As president of the Detection Club, founded by G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy L. Sayers in the 1930's, Dame Christie presided over his initiation. Peter Lovesey had to solemnly swear never to use identical twins in his murderous plots, not to use poisons unknown to science, and he was informed that feminine intuition was strictly not allowed.
His detectives might be anyone, from a simple little girl who happens to be the daughter of a policeman, to the Crown Prince himself - despite his dissolute life. While this collection does not include tales of Sergeant Cribb, his detective from the 1890's later adapted for television, Lovesey does include one story that features his favorite character, Peter Diamond.
Rather like Christie's Poirot, a retired policeman who served her many years after the Biblically prescribed three score and ten, Lovesey began Diamond's career before retirement, then had to bring him back after retirement. Once more in charge of the Murder Squad at Manvers Street Police Station, Diamond's return caused personal conflicts with jealous or unfamiliar personnel.
Nevertheless, Detective Peter Diamond gets the job done in accordance with Butterworth's Police Law by taking advice from a fresh, young policewoman and his trusted friend, a police pathologist. At the back of this collection is a list of other stories and books by Peter Lovesey. The Peter Diamond series debuted with Lovesey's book, The Last Detecive, published by Scribners and Doubleday, 1991.
Just like Santa's helper, I've made a list of friends who enjoy a good mystery. What my friends really want for Christmas is a 'gently-read' Peter Diamond mystery written with understated humor by Peter Lovesey.