Monday, May 30, 2016
Mad Hatter's Holiday
Peter Lovesy's fourth Sergent Cribb novel plays with the format a bit. After three straightforward, slightly comic, Victorian police procedurals, Lovesy waits until the midpoint of Mad Hatter's Holiday to introduce Cribb and the faithful but not particularly bright Constable Thackery. Instead, the novel starts from Albert Morcrop's point of view. Morcrop is a telescope salesman who uses his beach holiday to turn his telescope on the passing crowd. He becomes obsessed with Zena Prothero, a young woman married to a much older doctor. A doctor with a son from a prior marriage and a habit of walking out with other women after sending his wife to bed with a sleeping potion. When parts of a woman's body and Mrs. Prothero's coat are found buried on the beach, the local police suspect the worst and call Scotland Yard for help. Cribb, of course, solves the murder with an appropriate number of twists and turns. He solved it, but I didn't - a rarity, as is the short (220 pages) length. Mad Hatter's Holiday is the best installment so far in Lovesy's entertainingly brisk historical mysteries.