Ralph's Reviews > From the Beatles to Blair

From the Beatles to Blair by John Rigbey
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Apr 06, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: crime, foreign-detective, mystery

There is a lot to like in John Rigbey's morality tale of corruption and crime in the Capital of the World--good characterization, tight plot, strong narrative voice, exacting verisimilitude, crisp and colorful dialogue, sustained suspense, and a strong sense of place and time. But what there is to like about it most is the character of Chief Detective Inspector Michael Gregory. I like Scotland Yard's Inspector Michael Gregory for most of the same reasons I like the LAPD's Detective Harry Bosch--smart, forceful, honorable, and possessed by a sense of fairness and a craving for justice; he is knowledge enough to know that what is right is not always just, yet foolish enough to believe he can accomplish both goals. And, like Bosch, Gregory has trouble with wife (soon to be ex) and daughter, as well as problems at work, all stemming from his unflagging sense of duty and loyalty to the Job.

The story starts with the death of former Scotland Yard Inspector Albert Flight, now a publican in a small town but who during his time was one of the most bent of coppers, with connections to both the London underworld and the highest reaches of government. Flight's assassination by professionals and his nefarious former activities bring Scotland Yard into what would otherwise be a matter for the local constabulary. As Inspector Gregory begins to juggle the hot potato that has been tossed into his lap (he does not realize at first just how hot it is), another professional murder is committed in the north of Spain, an old lag named Charlie Marker (AKA Charlie the Chalk)who worked hand-in-hand with Flight back in the day when they were wringing money from criminals, businesses and government officials with much to lose...and even more to hide.

Very early on, Gregory realizes that both murders (and others they discover along the way)are rooted firmly in Flight's and Marker's past. His investigation weaves its way from the Fifties to the present, with Rigbey mixing a rogue's gallery of real villains with those of his own creation. Along the way, Rigbey assigns some unsolved real underworld rub-outs to his villainous hit team. The brutal and popular Kray Brothers play no small role in the plot as Rigbey mixes real and fiction history, and many a student of crime will nod his head from time to time as he reads the book, thinking, "I remember that yob," or "I recall that case he was nicked for." The book is not just a well-written police procedural, but a chronicle of bad men and bad deeds, not so much researched as lived through, Rigbey having been a Scotland Yard inspector (CID) during the time about which he writes (later becoming a private inquiry agent after retiring) and bringing the full force of his knowledge and experience into the book.

Though this is the second book in Rigbey's Inspector Gregory series, it's the third I've read. I started with "Professional Standards," fourth in the series in which Gregory comes into the cross-hairs of some Scotland Yard tin hunters, then went on to the first book, "The Strange Michael Folmer Affair" where Gregory is pitted against a Jack-the-Ripper wannabe and the machinery of officialdom. I enjoyed each book immensely; this present book has only increased my fondness for the series and my affection for Chief Detective Inspector Gregory, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
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Reading Progress

April 6, 2014 – Started Reading
April 6, 2014 – Shelved
April 22, 2014 – Shelved as: crime
April 22, 2014 – Shelved as: foreign-detective
April 22, 2014 – Shelved as: mystery
April 22, 2014 – Finished Reading

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