The King of Diamonds
Minotaur, Mar 15 2011, $24.99
In 1958 at the Old Bailey in London, David Swain stands on trial for the murder of Ethan Mendel in what has been sensationalized as a crime of passion. David accused Ethan of interfering with his relationship with Katya Osman. Oxford Detective Inspector William Trave testifies, which is a prime reason Swain is convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Although he did his duty, something about the case annoys Trave.
Two years later, Trave's marriage to Vanessa falls apart. At the same time Katya’s diamond dealer paternal Uncle Titus lends his support to the DI while ironically having an affair with Vanessa. Osman also conceals that he and his brother-in–law former Nazi sympathizer Franz Claes have kept his niece locked away in her home. Meanwhile, acrimonious and raging Swain works on his escape in order to kill his duplicitous former girlfriend. Just after Swain succeeds in breaking out of prison, someone murders Katya. Although the obvious suspect is the escaped convict who swore he would kill his former lover but Trave hypothesizes that her uncle and his in-law murdered the niece and Mendel. The problem with his theory is his motives re Vanessa.
Although a bit over the top of the Old Bailey, the second DI Trave police procedural (seer The Inheritance) is a super exciting thriller that transports readers back to 1960 Oxford. Trave is terrific as he investigates the second homicide tied to Katya, but this time she is the victim. His peers scoff at his theory as Swain is an easier culprit to hang and besides Trave has a motive to want Osman to hang because his estranged wife and the King of Diamonds dealer are having an affair. Fans will enjoy Simon Tolkien’s entertaining historical thriller.