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The King of Diamonds

By: Simon Tolkien
Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
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Summary

David Swain is two years into his life sentence for murdering the lover of his ex-girlfriend, Katya Osman. In the dead of night, he escapes from prison. Hours later, Katya is found murdered in her uncle's home, Blackwater Hall.

Having first brought Swain to justice two years earlier, Inspector Trave of the Oxford police heads the manhunt. Once Swain is recaptured and put on trial for his life, a guilty verdict seems guaranteed.

But Trave's investigation has taken an unexpected turn. Katya's uncle is a rich diamond dealer with a grudge against Trave, and his sinister brother-in-law has gone to great lengths to create a new identity. Now convinced that they have arrested the wrong man, and with personal scores to settle, Trave must risk everything he holds dear to bring his unlikely target to justice.

©2011 Simon Tolkien (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishing Limited

Critic reviews

"Compulsively readable. Crafted with cunning and imbued with menace." (Richmond Times Dispatch)
"Simon Tolkien has once again written a gripping and nuanced thriller laced with historical detail, treachery, and his signature writing style -a uniquely suspenseful blend that the Los Angeles Times called "half Christie and half Grisham."

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Fallen in Love

I've really fallen in love with this character and with Simons storytelling. The reading is slower paced and feels methodical but it gives you a great chance to get an idea of just how the characters are feeling. Such and enjoyable listen. I will definitely be looking for mow from this author.

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Good plot

A good plot with lots of intrigues, characters well portrayed. An excellent book.

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Clumsy and dull, little sense of time

Even the excellent performance of a talented narrator cannot save this.

The senior partner in the police double act consists of Trave, a singularly charmless man who seems to have no talent for detection. If I were being investigated on a capital charge I would hope to have someone competent in charge. This is the second book featuring him and once again someone may have been wrongly convicted and could be hanged. He does pull out all the stops at the latest possible stage but the discussions of the evidence before then are risible and superficial. The chief constable tells us Trave is his best detective; what a shame he doesn’t show it.

The junior partner is Clayton, a DC, inexperienced and in no position to steer the investigation. It can work having the junior office as the better detective as in Morse and Lewis, but that is not what we have here. We are spared the useless chief constable but we are not spared Trave being taken off the case for doing something he was specifically warned against.

The characterisation is very sketchy, there is a lot of unsubtle explanation of what the characters are feeling, lots of padding, no tension. The court scenes, which should be a gift, are lacklustre. If you want to read electrifying court scenes try John Fairfax's William Benson novels.

There is no feel for the time in which it was set. I don’t doubt the author has the law right but where he puts in details about the way people lived they felt like the 1970s at the earliest. That jars.

The young man convicted of the murder is well and touchingly drawn but that is the only positive I can find apart from the narrator.