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

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  206 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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 books.

This novel is set in the Agricultural Hall, Islington, in 1879, where a bizarre six-day endurance race takes place. “Wobbles” became popular o

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Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Soho Constable (first published 1970)
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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...more
Judy
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
Marfita
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...more
Dana
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...more
Ria
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...more
Bonnie
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
Gerry
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
Cindy
Sep 08, 2007 Cindy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Shelley
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...more
C.R. Richards
I love the Sergeant Cribb series! There are several books and each one is a 5 star!
Krista
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.
Tom
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.
Keith
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.
Dee
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.
Jim
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.
Connie
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.
Jane
Before I read this book I had no idea what a 'wobble' was. It turns out they were gruelling 6 day races involving walking repeatedly around a huge hall. This was the setting for a very satisfying murder mystery featuring Sergeant Cribb set in late Victorian times. A quick but very enjoyable read.
Ed Dodson
Sergeant Cribbs is my new favorite historical detective, even if he doesn't show any obvious grave character defects or have a history of severe psychological trauma. I enjoy the Victorian stories for their wacky social phenomena, like the Wobblers (7 day walking racers) and the Zany characters.
Zoe
Surprisingly good story about an early multi-day walk/run and the death of one of the competitors. The detective wasn't introduced for a few chapters, which gave plenty of opportunity to bulk up the historical detail and atmosphere. I'll be reading more in this series.
Alejandrina
I am not usually fond of Victorian mysteries as it seems the authors spend too much time on the atmosphere and not so much on the story or characters. Lovesey has chosen a very unusual subject that is wholly Victorian and is a great backdrop for the mystery.
Ed
First in the Sergeant Cribb series. Set in 1879. Centers on a Victorian fad - 6-Day Race Marathons.
Anachronistic dialogue, but genuine Victorian dialogue, especially in a Victorian sports milieu, would have made for very slow reading.
Very enjoyable mystery.
Elizabeth
Peter Lovesey make the scene very real. You can almost smell the desperation and the left oft over aroma of animals and fog. In the end the simple motives are usually the best:love, hate or money. You can pick and choose in this mystery.
stormhawk
Excellent mystery set in the Victorian Era. I remember watching Cribb on PBS Mystery many years ago. I read the books then, but they've been out of print for at least 25 years. The books are being released in Kindle format.
Kaye
I couldn't finish. Dullest book ever! I love the Peter Diamond books by Peter Lovesey and thought this would be one I would also enjoy as it was set in Victorian London but sadly I was wrong. I'll stick to the Diamond books.
Stefanie
I've watched a few of the Sgt. Cribb mysteries and wanted to see if the source material was as good. In a word, yes. This was a tight mystery with well-researched, interesting settings and many suspects.
Sandi
The author's debut mystery, first published in 1970, turned out to be a very enjoyable historical mystery set back in Victorian England where six day walking races known as "Wobbles" were very popular.
Donna
Wonderful historical setting and a good mystery to boot. I've seen the old BBC adaptations of the Sargeant Cribb mysteries but never read any of the books so I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Shannon
took to page 63 for anyone to die. had almost no description in it. did not enjoy it. had almost no character development either.
Windy
The first in the Sergeant Cribb detective series set in Victorian London.
A bit slow moving but good fun nonetheless.
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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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