Friday, January 4, 2013

The Great Pearl Heist . . .

The Great Pearl Heist: London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most  Valuable Necklace

by Molly Caldwell Crosby
Berkley Books, 2012.  288 pgs.  Non-fiction

In the early 1900s the value of diamonds fell, and the price of pearls rose. So when Max Mayer, a London jewelry broker, shipped an essentially priceless necklace of matching pink pearls to London from France, someone intercepted the mail to relieve him of them. That someone was Lewis Grizzard's gang, a loose consortium of thieves who bribed a postal worker or two to get the mailbag alone so the switch could be made.  Enter Chief Inspector Andrew Ward, dean of detectives for Scotland Yard, whose task it is to find the pearls and bring the miscreants to justice. Crosby's is a fascinating account of how master thieves went about their work, and more importantly, about fencing the goods ,as well as the advancement of police work. (In those days, undercover work was frowned upon by the general population because it was not "sporting.")  The anticipated intellectual battle between Lewis Grizzard and Inspector Ward never quite pans out, since the thieves are finally caught because they were ratted out by a couple of "prospective buyers" hoping for the reward, but this is still a fun, fast, interesting read filled with information about times gone by.


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