November 09, 2004

Mad Hatter's Holiday, by Peter Lovesey

This is yet another Sergeant Cribb mystery, and yet it's entirely different than the two I've reviewed previously. The quirky Lovesey style, absent in the previous two books, is here clearly present, and wonder of wonders the book has nothing to do with the world of sport.

Instead, it concerns one Albert Moscrop, purveyor of fine optical instruments, as he begins his holiday in the English beach resort town of Brighton. With him he has brought a small collection of fine optical instruments, which he intends to use to view the beachgoers from the remote safety of one of Brighton's two piers. This, evidently, is how he usually spends his holidays, spying on people through binoculars or telescopes, though he tells himself he's really just comparing the resolving capabilities of different instruments.

And then, completely against his normal inclinations, he finds himself striking up an acquaintance with an elegant young woman he first sees from the pier--an elegant young woman who, sadly, turns out to be married to a philanderer. And as his objectivity lies in tatters, the young woman turns up missing, and a body is found buried in the Brighton sand....

Sergeant Cribb is actually a relatively minor character, given that he doesn't even appear until the book is approximately halfway through, and even then much of the action is told from Moscrop's point of view. But he remains the cheerfully sadistic fellow we've met before, and is just as willing to be a little unconventional if it gets him his man.

All in all, I liked this book much better than the two previous Sergeant Cribb mysteries I've read.

Posted by Will Duquette at November 9, 2004 06:59 PM