Monday, April 29, 2013

Wobble to Death

Professional sports started oddly - a mix of mill teams with "ringers" and individual competitions set up for the benefit of gamblers.  Wobble to Death takes place at a wobble - a week-long footrace, with a belt and 500 pounds going to the man who walks and runs the most laps without collapsing.  The race starts out well, with the two favorites - Captain Chadwick and Charles Darnell - circling a shorter, inner track, away from the elbows of the pack of also rans, but on Tuesday, Darnell collapses and dies.  Was it tetanus (from walking barefoot with blistered feet)?  Just bad luck?  Or was he murdered?

Well, this is a mystery novel so of course he was murdered - but by whom?  Sergeant Cribb has a few suspects, including a threatened champ, an unfaithful wife, a crooked promoter, a "doctor"/competitor, and a drunken manager.  Lovesey's mystery is neatly crafted, but a bit too lightweight to last.  Like The Detective Wore Silk Drawers, I enjoyed it more for the glimpse into Victorian sports than for the enjoyable but essentially forgettable mystery.

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