A pair of English Civil War reenactors discovers evidence of a decades old murder buried beneath a fallen tree on Lansdown Hill, site of a famous battle. The skeleton is headless, and some painstaking investigation reveals the victim to be a twenty year old Ukrainian immigrant escaping the sex trafficking trade in London. Two weeks after the exhumation, one of the reenactors is found dead in a Landsdown cemetery, his head bashed in.
What follows is a case lead by old pro Peter Diamond, who insists that the two crimes are connected and doggedly pursues the truth in spite of strong discouragement from his boss. Author Lovesey’s pacing and plotting is superb, his characters genuine and likable, including the bad guys. Inspector Diamond has recently lost his wife, and is provided here with material for a budding, if not wildly romantic, new relationship with a smart, sassy woman (close to his own age, even!). Lovesey also makes good use of his settings, evoking a realistic sense of time and place. As in other series fiction, perhaps it’s better to read the entries in chronological order, but I haven’t done that, and find that Skeleton Hill holds its own as a standalone.