Tag Archives: Sergeant Cribb

Wobble to Death

19 Sep

A six-day “Go As You Please” footrace, otherwise known as a ‘wobble’, was a strange phenomenon in the late 19th century. Men basically waled and rested at their own pace along a carefully set out course over a designated time period.

A wobble in Islington, London, is the setting for the first novel about Sergeant Wally Cribb on the London Metropolitan Police.

Peter Lovesey wrote this delightful book for a novel writing competition, which it won.

“Wobble to Death” is a well plotted, well written, crime story with lots of suspects and a satisfying conclusion.

While Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes got me interested in crim fiction, it was Peter Lovesey’s Sgt Cribb who lead me to expand my interest further into the Victorian era.

Although the book is well over 50 years old, it is still a crisp and delightful read. If you want to read it, it is still in print and available from Book Depository.

The Detective Wore Silk Drawers

14 Jun

The discovery of a headless corpse washed up on the banks of the Thames near Blackfriars, drags Cribb from his pint at the pub and into a case involving the brutal and illegal world of bare-knuckle prize fighting, in this, the second of the Sergeant Cribb books by Peter Lovesey.

With his trusty assistant Thackeray and a well-bred young copper, Cribb dives into a case that, if he’s not careful will have them all knocked out for the count.

“The Detective Wore Silk Drawers” is fast paced and exciting. The characters are well-rounded and believable.

As well as a fine detective story, you get a gritty look at the less than glamorous world of boxing at a time when the hard and dirty fighting with bare fists was banned, and boxing with “mittens” and the Queensbury Rules had become the norm.

An interesting and absorbing read, as well as being a first-class crime thriller. Highly recommended.


3 Dec

“Waxwork” by Peter Lovesey was the last of the Sgt Cribb books.

The scene is London in 1888: Mrs Miriam Cromer has confessed to the murder of the assistant to her photographer husband, because he was blackmailing her. Miriam is sentence to death, but before she can be hanged, doubts are cast on her confession. Sgt Cribb is tasked with investigating the matter. Is Miriam Cromer truly guilty of a most heinous murder?

The story is split between Cribb’s investigation and the actions of hangman James Berry in the run up to the execution. The result is a story with verve and bounce that keeps you in its grip right up to the final denouement.

The thing I found interesting was that as I read the book I kept getting mental flashbacks to the television adaptation of the book, which was done around the time of the Granada Sherlock Holmes adaptations. Which only goes to show just how strong the story is.

Highly recommended if you can get hold of a copy.

Invitation to a Dynamite Party

15 Oct

I first came across Sergeant Cribb of Scotland Yard via the Granada television series in 1980-1981. I was delighted to discover the series was based on books by Peter Lovesey, and lost no time in hunting down copies. Fast forward 40 years and imagine my delight when I came across several of the books at a second hand shop.

I am delighted to report that the books have stood the test of time.

In “Invitation to a Dynmite Party” London in 1884 is being plagued by a series of bomb blasts. A reluctant Sgt Cribb is sent on an explosives course, and when his offsider, Constable Thackery appears to be one of the terrorists, Cribb finds himself on a whirling ride fraught with danger, including being abducted at gunpoint to be the terror group’s new bombmaker.

The story is fast paced and well written. A fascinating take on a perilous time.

Peter Lovesey also has a fine line in sarcasm:

“‘Fancy that!’ said Inspector Jowett, so dedicated to the cause of personal advancement that he was ready to fancy anything a senior officer showed him.”

If you love Victorian era detective fiction, it will be worth your while getting hold of a copy (maybe try ABE Books).

Highly recommended.

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