The Detective Wore Silk Drawers is the second Sergeant Cribb investigation by Peter Lovesey and just as
enjoyable a read as the first, Wobble to Death (also
reviewed on Myshelf.com).† Sergeant Cribb and Constable Thackeray find themselves back in the world of Victorian
sports, although a much less respectable segment than the walking race "wobbles" of the first book.
When a headless corpse is found in the Thames, physical signs make it clear the victim had recently been a
bare-knuckled prizefighter, even though the sport had supposedly been penalized out of existence some dozen years
before. Nor was this the first such body in recent years. Could it be the cost of losing a bare-knuckled fight had
gone far beyond broken bones and scars? Taking advantage of his bossís instructions to re-examine his methods to
reduce his unsolved crime rate, Cribb decides to co-opt a wellborn young constable named Henry Jago, who boxes
legitimately (with gloves), and use him to infiltrate the bare-knuckled world.
This is a suspense-filled tale, with much of it focused on Henry, who finds himself over his head in a country
house not that different from the one his family lives in, but filled with a whole new world of people who are very
different from those heís used to (heís not only from an upper class family, heís been sheltered in a clerical job
with Scotland Yard.) His job is to find evidence of the crimes they know were committed and where, but without
getting caught. The exhausting physical training to mold him into a fighter is the least of his problems, even
before he himself discovers the latest victim.
As with the first book, the story springs to vivid life through fascinating characters who clearly belong to
their equally well-crafted Victorian world rather than this one. Itís another shortish, fast-paced read, filled
with even more action and suspense than the first, but still dominated by excellent writing with a light seasoning
of dry humor.† Iím really happy that Soho Constable is reissuing this series to remind people of just how well
this sort of story can be done.