'These aren't padpas, Doshie,' I said. 'They're tsavorite.' A tsavorite is properly green grossular, a sort of garnet discovered some seventy years ago near Kenya's National Park at Tsavo. Its lovely green lies between deep Sri Lankan emeralds and a peridot. (Tip: Don't buy a tsavorite unless it's above one carat in size.) 'Measure its single refraction, Doshie, to prove it isn't green tourmaline or green zircon. Save me a trip to London. Also, I know nothing about precious stones.'
For someone who claims over and over that he hates London, Lovejoy spends a lot of time there in this novel, which has all the rambles of the later books in the series (only three more after this, including The Ten Word Game and Faces in the Pool). At least, however, there is a core plot - with admittedly an awful lot of distraction - in which an even randier than usual Lovejoy attempts to wreak justice on those who have hounded a former lover, caused the death of her husband and threatened their son. (Whose son? Hmm.) There are some lovely Lydia moments as well - she is the most entertaining of the semi-regular characters in these books, and will get an unexpected twist in her tale in a couple of books' time - and the usual incredible detail about antiques and other issues (such as the precise distinction between a padparadsha and a tsavorite). I don't think this is a gateway book for non-Lovejoy fans, but it's an entertaining book for those of us who are.