The Stone Wife

At a Bath auction house, professor John Gildersleeve, an authority on Chaucer, is bidding on a medieval stone statue that possibly depicts the Wife of Bath from The Canterbury Tales. Armed robbers try to steal it, and in an attempt to stop them, Gildersleeve is killed. Superintendent Peter Diamond, head of Bath CID, and his team are bewildered by the crime. Who would try to steal a massive stone statue of dubious provenance? It's possible that the statue wasn't the real target; Gildersleeve's planned attendance at the auction was widely known, so any of his potential enemies could be sure to catch him there.

As the team struggles to uncover a motive, the statue sits in Diamond's office, looming. The detective starts to believe that the Wife of Bath is mocking him for his ineffective investigation as he continues to interview Gildersleeve's colleagues and family. When Sergeant Ingeborg Smith finds an unlikely lead and goes undercover into a world of guns and gangsters to look for answers, her dangerous mission contrasts with the erudite literary circles in which Diamond mingles.

The Stone Wife, the 14th book in the Peter Diamond series by Peter Lovesey (The Tooth Tattoo), will appeal to fans of the series. Its slightly absurd premise might not be the best starting point for a new reader, but Diamond's short temper and quirky investigative tactics are still pleasing, and readers familiar with English literature are sure to love all the Chaucerian allusions. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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