Peter Lovesey - Stagestruck

A Peter Diamond Mystery

Clarion Calhoun is a fading pop star wanting to launch an acting career. The audiences at her debut at Bath’s Theatre Royal are expecting a dramatic evening, but what they get is beyond their wildest imagination. When Clarion is rushed to hospital with third-degree burns, rumours spread through the theatrical community and beyond. In the best theatrical tradition, the show goes on, but the agony turns to murder.

The case falls to Peter Diamond, Bath’s top detective, but for reasons he can’t understand, he suffers a physical reaction amounting to phobia each time he goes near the theatre. As he tries to find its root in his past, the tension at the Theatre Royal mounts, legends come to life and the killer strikes again.

UK Publisher: Sphere 2011 ISBN: 978-1-84744-444-8
US Publisher: Soho Press 2011 ISBN: 978-1-569479476

STAGESTRUCK was picked by the Daily Mail of 16 December as its top-rated Classic Whodunit of 2011. Barry Turner wrote: “May I be forgiven for describing Peter Lovesey as an old pro? It is truly meant as a compliment. With his ever-fresh reworking of the classic formula he never fails to intrigue and mystify. Stagestruck is one of his best.”

STAGESTRUCK was also picked for the New York Times Notable Books of 2011 by Marilyn Stasio, who praised it as a “civilized British detective story.”

Tom Nolan in the Wall Street Journal:

“Master of Moods, From Comic to Grim … In Stagestruck, the 11th book in the series, the puzzling events in Diamond’s latest investigation begin with the facial burns suffered by a fading pop singer in the first moments of her debut as an actress … It proves a challenging assignment for Diamond. The gruff detective has suffered a lifelong, inexplicable fear of being inside theatres. The phobia began in childhood, but he hasn’t a clue what caused it. His female boss suggests that he sees a psychiatrist (‘This is in danger of becoming an obsession’); but the investigator takes a more direct approach, tracking down an old teacher who may be able to shine light on a long-ago trauma… Mr Lovesey is a wizard at mixing character-driven comedy with realistic-to-grim suspense.”

Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times:

“A brilliantly conceived and smartly executed mystery set in the hallowed Theater Royal of Bath … As always, the plot’s the thing with Lovesey, and the solution to the mystery of Clarion’s disfigurement, while arrived at fair and square, is stunning. But the story also has genuine depth and dimension. Working from the droll premise that most of us are stage-struck hams at heart, Lovesey rolls out satirical character sketches of a flamboyant copper who ‘makes a song and dance out of everything,’ an aristocratic trustee who stages amateur shows on the lawn of his stately home, and Diamond’s own superior officer, anxious about her debut in her opera society’s production of ‘SweeneyTodd.’ The only person immune to the allure of the stage is Diamond, whose revulsion for all things theatrical is another minor but intriguing puzzle to be solved before the lights can go up on this dark mystery and the show can finally go on.”

Publishers Weekly in its starred review wrote:

“At the start of Lovesey’s superb 11th mystery featuring Det. Supt. Peter Diamond, pop singer-turned-actress Clarion Calhoun collapses on stage at Bath’s Theater Royal … After the clever reveal of the main criminal, many readers will go back to the beginning to see how artfully a main clue was planted. Once again, Lovesey proves he has few peers as a crafter of contemporary fair-play whodunits.”