In the summer of 1913, under the cover of London’s perpetual smoggy dusk, two brilliant minds are pitted against each other—a celebrated gentleman thief and a talented Scotland Yard detective—in the greatest jewel heist of the new century.
An exquisite strand of pale pink pearls, worth more than the Hope Diamond, has been bought by a Hatton Garden broker. Word of the “Mona Lisa of Pearls” spreads around the world, captivating jewelers as well as thieves. In transit to London from Paris, the necklace vanishes without a trace.
Joseph Grizzard, “the King of Fences,” is the charming leader of a vast gang of thieves in London’s End End. Grizzard grew up on the streets of Whitechapel during the terror of Jack the Ripper to rise to the top of the criminal world. Wealthy, married, a father, Grizzard still cannot resist the sport of crime, and the pearl necklace proves an irresistible challenge.
Inspector Alfred Ward patrols the city’s dark, befogged streets before joining the brand new division of the Metropolitan Police known as “detectives.” Ward earns his stripes catching some of the great murderers of Victorian London and, at the height of his career, is asked to turn his forensic talents to finding the missing pearls and the thief who stole them.
In the spirit of The Great Train Robbery and the tales of Sherlock Holmes, this is the true story of a psychological cat and mouse game set against the backdrop of London’s golden Edwardian era. Thoroughly researched, compellingly colorful, The Great Pearl Heist is a gripping narrative account of this little-known, yet extraordinary crime. The chase is on.
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"Crosby has stepped into the breach, assembling her narrative from an impressive array of sources and then lavishly saucing it with period detail...delightful." - Salon.com
"It's a gem...Crosby's story is rich in the lore of London's famed underworld; this is a tale of fences, putter-ups and receivers...she takes us deep into the worlds of criminals and the lawmen who pursued them." - Newsday
"Crosby's thriller-style account is backed up by her intensive research of Metropolitan Police records in the National Archives in London, along with contemporary accounts. Crosby...has crafted another compelling popular history." - Booklist (starred review)
"Crosby turns back the clock to a winning true crime tale involving two superior minds...the author highlights the case's major influence on British crime detection and the legal system, adding a dash of color and realism to a largely forgotten chapter of Edwardian London. Justice is served with the usual Brit low-key smarts and cheeky moves." - Publishers Weekly
"A science writer...Crosby brings a clinical eye to her subject, creating a narrative that manages to remain both exciting and informative. While there is plenty of nefarious action in this book, there is also careful detail." The Memphis Commercial Appeal
"Molly Caldwell Crosby has a lovely talent for imagining history." Dallas Morning News
"Rich and evocative, The Great Pearl Heist not only tells the thrilling story of a seemingly impossible theft, it immerses readers in the pre-war world of 1913 London and the extraordinary life of one of history’s most skilled and clever thieves. Crosby has written a book that is as enchanting and irresistible as its subject."—Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic
"Fast-paced, full of twists and turns, and rich in detail, The Great Pearl Heist takes us deep inside the criminal underworld of turn-of-the-century London jewel thieves and one of their greatest crimes of all. Crosby tells a fascinating story rooted in such deep historical research that we can practically watch the drama unfold in real time. Detectives use the latest crimefighting techniques--fingerprinting, forensics, sting operations, disguises--to restore law and order to one of the world's great cities that always seemed on the brink of chaos. And as the clouds of war gathered across the continent, the struggle between thieves and the legal system symbolized the larger strains of holding European society together at the beginning of the twentieth century." - Jeffrey Jackson, author of Paris Under Water
Learn more about the world of Edwardian London...Follow these links to Hatton Garden history, turn-of-the-century East End London, life in Spitalfields and Whitechapel during the reign of Jack the Ripper, and Scotland Yard detective history. Traveling to London? Visit the Sherlock Holmes museum, Old Spitalfields Market, and walk the streets of Holborn where the Charles Dickens Museum is housed in one of the author's homes.