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Wobble To Death
Peter Lovesey
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Wobble To Death (Sergeant Cribb #1)

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  337 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
“A fine case of murder, projected against a compelling historical background.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Don’t miss this.”—Los Angeles Times

In 1879, race walking competitions, known as “wobbles,” were all the rage. The death of a contender, followed by a second murder, introduces Sergeant Cribb, who goes on to investigate sports-related deaths in a series of eight b

Paperback, 202 pages
Published October 27th 1992 by Arrow Books Ltd (first published 1970)
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Aug 21, 2015 Marfita rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: period-mystery
Sigh, more sports. Well, at least Lovesey provides a couple corpses.
Phew, I never noticed what the women were like in this when I read these decades ago! Mrs. Darrell was one hot number! I suppose it's playing against the Victorian stereotype.
Pedestrian races were apparently very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. The one in this story is a six-day walk/run with a substantial prize for the winner - not to mention all the side-bets. Captain Chadwick is only persuaded to take part if he and
Jul 04, 2009 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of a "wobble" until I read this book, but apparently they were all the rage in Victorian England. A wobble was the term for race walking competitions. Most of them took place on open roads and had distances of 50, 100, or 150 miles or more. The wobble featured in this book was held indoors on a track, lasted from Monday to Saturday, and it was anticipated that the winner would walk at least 500 miles. So one of the wobblers was killed by an excessive amount of strychnine that h ...more
Bruce Macbain
[This review originally appeared in Historical Novels Review:]

It is a cold November morning in 1879 and a dozen ‘pedestrians’ in silk drawers and white tights gather at the Agricultural Hall in Islington, a structure so vast that it contains its own fog. The occasion is a ‘wobble’—a grueling six-day marathon race. This is the setting of Peter Lovesey’s first Victorian mystery, now reissued.
The competitors are rough working-class types except for Captain Chadwick, ex Guards officer and the favo
Mar 31, 2014 Dana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first in a series of murder mysteries set in Victorian England and featuring Detective Sgt. Cribb, author Peter Lovesey has written a delicious slice of life novel. The murder in this mystery is relatively slight and character development for Sgt. Cribb is almost non-existent, yet I really enjoyed the novel. It worked more for a picture of a bygone time than a true mystery.
Imagine a race where you run for six days. You set your own pace and decide when you eat and sleep but you must keep pac
Jun 06, 2014 Ria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant Victorian detective story with a twist.
The scene is set at a sporting event for the Champion pedestrian of the world, a week long walking event with big cash prizes and recognition for the entrants.
Things go smoothly until suddenly there is a random death among the competitors.
Charles Darrell's death is at first put down to him running barefoot and contracting Tetanus but what finally emerges is a suspicion of murder.
Tensions rise amongst the rest of the pedestrians as they ponder wh
Martha Bratton
Picked this up on a $1 shelf and correctly read the visual cues on the cover (was made into a PBS film) that said this might be a fun yarn. It does go on and on about the same issues throughout the book, but it's fun and a good look into sports promotion in earlier days. A six-day walking race on a track, where there is 4 hrs rest a day!? Very strange to me. The writing is great, so I was happy to pick it up at night even if I wasn't spellbound. I am fascinated to see if I can track down the PBS ...more
Jul 10, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A decent murder mystery set in Victorian England among a little known walk-run race called a wobble. Short, sweet and interesting. I shall read more Lovesey
Jun 24, 2013 Bonnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is first in a series by Peter Lovesey about Sergent Cribb and his partner Thackeray from Scotland Yard. The setting is London, November 1879 in the enormous Agricultural Hall. A contest is getting under way and entrants and the press are shivering in the unheated building waiting for the announcements to start. A "Wobble" or "Go as You Please Contest" is being held starting on Monday and continuing through Saturday. These were instituted by Sir John Astley in March 1878, and became ve ...more
Anu Korpinen
Wobble to death, suomenettu Sapo-sarjassa nimellä Hoippuen kohti kuolemaa. Loveseyn viktoriaaniseen Englantiin sijoittuva dekkarisarja on ollut pitkään yksi suosikeistani. Sarjasta on olemassa myös TV-sovitus.

Tapahtumat alkavat Islingtonin jättiläishallissa, jossa kuusipäiväiset kävelyjuoksukisat saavat ikävän käänteen kun yksi kisaajista kuolee. Kuolinsyyksi varmistuu myrkytys, ja niin kilpailun järjestäjillä on käsissään murha.

Kirjan parasta antia on elävä ajankuvaus, urheilukisojen alkeellise
Not feeling any particular strong favorable emotion for this book, which I picked up at the local library due to a few stellar patron ratings. (Clearly, YMMV). The 19th century British "pedestrian" race setting was new to me, and was the most interesting thing about the story. Beyond that, it's a diverting enough read for fans of British lightweight police mysteries who have time to not be picky.
Jess Schira
I really enjoyed learning about the history of "Wobbles" historical walking races, but I have to admit that Wobble to Death really didn't do much for me. It took forever for the first person to die, the investigation was slow and felt vague, and the wrap up was just a little to tidy.

The Kindle version of this book has strange hyphens throughout it.
Jun 27, 2009 Gerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wondered about the title at first and then discovered that wobbling was not what I thought! A wooble was a six day athletics event, or endurance event, in late Victorian times and one such fictional meeting provides an excellent setting for an excellent novel. The competitors race and rest, rest and race for the six days and who has completed the most distance over that period of time is declared the winner. But on this occasion mysterious happenings take place that puts the whole event in jeo ...more
David Hammons
ehh it was okay. This book was set in the 1880's before they had anything resembling team sports. Since they did not have football, baseball, or basketball. I am assuming that soccer was in its infancy because no other way this sport was popular. So a "wobble" is a 6 day foot race. You can walk or you can run but you have six days so you better pace yourself. Apparently these wobbles were big in the 1880's who knew? One dude set the world record when he traveled over 680 miles in 6 days. He had ...more
Sep 08, 2007 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical mystery fans
I enjoyed this book about an athletic event I had never heard of before--"wobbling," or a 6 day endurance race. The "pedestrians" compete over an outdoor track and whoever covers the most miles in 6 days is the winner. But one of the leading contenders dies on the second day. At first, his death is thought to be caused by tetanus. But the post mortem reveals strychnine. Sergeant Cribb must decide who wanted the athlete out of the way.

The setting of these books is always interesting. The last on
Nigel Alefounder
Interesting read set in a period I hadn't touched on before.

Lightweight and entertaining.

I was interested in pursuing the series but book two doesn't appeal. Do I leapfrog over it?
Edward Durand
Sep 04, 2015 Edward Durand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great little story. The murder kept me guessing until the end... I had figured some of it out ahead of time, but not who the murder was. The story wrapped around a 6 day foot race was interesting to me and gave it a little extra to the story line. Definitely worth the read.
Joee Gordon
Aug 12, 2015 Joee Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
fun fun summer read ----- to balance out the histories ..... and I learned about these wobbles. loved everything but the last few pages FOLLOWING the denouement.
I've never heard of this mystery series before. I've also never heard or knew about "Wobble" competitions in England in the 1800's either, let alone know there was such a word as "Wobble".

Gosh, what an awful competition! Walking in the cold, fog, smelly gas fumes (their means of lightening) amongst the audience's tobacco smoke for 6 long grueling days sounds like the most boring and torturous sport ever to me, even if the winnings is money.

It took me a while to get into the book, but it was wr
Cooper Renner
Sep 26, 2015 Cooper Renner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining Victorian mystery set during a "wobble," a six-day-long walking race with a substantial purse.
Susan Watson
Sep 17, 2015 Susan Watson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so much fun! I picked up this book randomly at my fave coffee shop/used book store. I had never heard of the Sergeant Cribb series and normally I don't read any mysteries other than Agatha Christie but the blurb on the back of the book was funny. And wobble is a funny word, I was tickled.

So I read it and it was funny! I love British humour so I shouldn't have been surprised. It made me laugh while keeping me guessing as to who the murderer was. Now I'm on a mission to acquire the s
C.R. Richards
Jul 20, 2014 C.R. Richards rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the Sergeant Cribb series! There are several books and each one is a 5 star!
Jan 23, 2016 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lively murder mystery set at a distance-walking competition in the 1870s. I'll be looking for more Peter Lovesey.
Feb 08, 2016 Bethack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, victorian
Nice mystery with lots of Victorian information.
Jan 11, 2016 Myra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful English murder mystery:-)
Oct 01, 2012 Krista rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well this was fun. Who knew that Lovesey came to mystery writing through his love for the Victorian sporting world?

And who knew that a "wobble" was a six day pedestrian race?

And who knew that Piccadilly Weepers were another term for mutton-chops?

Lovesey evokes Victorian England fairly well for someone who has read a lot of Dickens and Doyle but I would have enjoyed more of a portrait of the time.
Jul 19, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very entertaining mystery set in Victorian London. The evocation of the period was convincing, the characters believable, and the story engrossing. Lovesey weaves wry humor throughout the story, as well as fascinating facts and observations about the phenomenon of indoor endurance races and life in England in the late 1870s. I've read this book twice and enjoyed it thoroughly both times.
Sep 03, 2012 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent novel, one of the Sgt Cribb series created by Peter Lovesey. What I found especially interesting was the knowledge that this story was inspired by (and partly based on) the intriguing tale of the old Sheffield 'ped' George Littlewood, who set a record by walking almost 624 miles in New York in 1888 in one of the famous six-day 'go as you please' contests.
May 14, 2012 Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title intrigued me from the start. It is the first in Lovesey's series about police dectective sargeant Cribb, set in Victorian era London. The story centers around a 7 day endurance foot race. Characters are good although a bit cliched but very interesting learning about the races which apparently were a common feature in the Victoria sporting world.
Jan 01, 2013 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was ok. The book was very focused on the "Wobble", which was a 6 day walking race around a track (apparently these were popular in the second half of the 1800's in England). The wobble took place in a building normally reserved for farm animal sales. One of the "pedestrians" is murdered and Cribb and his assistant are called in to solve the crime.
Nov 17, 2011 Connie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for my mystery book group and really enjoyed it. I had no idea that these contests occured and the mystery by an author I love was extremely well written. I was totally unsure of the murderer. There were quite a few possibilites. I hope to read more of this series when I can find the time.
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Peter (Harmer) Lovesey (born 1936 in Whitton, Middlesex) is a British writer of historical and contemporary crime novels and short stories. His best-known series characters are Sergeant Cribb, a Victorian-era police detective based in London, and Peter Diamond, a modern-day police detective in Bath. Lovesey's novels and stories mainly fall into the category of entertaining puzzlers in the "Golden ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Sergeant Cribb (8 books)
  • The Detective Wore Silk Drawers (Sergeant Cribb, #2)
  • Abracadaver (Sergeant Cribb, #3)
  • Mad Hatter's Holiday
  • Invitation To A Dynamite Party (Sergeant Cribb, #5)
  • A Case Of Spirits (Sergeant Cribb, #6)
  • Swing, Swing Together (Sergeant Cribb, #7)
  • Waxwork (Sergeant Cribb, #8)

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