This is the usual Lovejoy formula, as the amiable, amorous antiques dealer blunders his way through a mystery where everyone but him knows what’s going on. Unfortunately, this one really is formulaic, and the formula isn’t working very well. The plot is incoherent and it’s difficult to keep track of the large cast of characters and their place in the plot. The usual Lovejoy asides to the reader about antiques, women and life still have charm, but they’re getting tired and are not enough in themselves to sustain interest. This one can still provide a few hours of entertainment for long-term fans, but I’d recommend that new readers start with one of the earlier books. They’re better, and don’t require previous knowledge of the series to be able to follow what’s going on.
Fans of the tv show should also note that the tv series cleaned the characters up quite a lot, and the original book versions of Lovejoy and some of the secondary characters are much darker. There’s a lot more sex and violence, and a much higher corpse count. I prefer the book version, but the shift in characterisation could be a shock to those used to Ian MacShane’s version.