The Great Pearl Heist: London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Necklace
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The Great Pearl Heist: London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Necklace

3.8 20
by Molly Caldwell Crosby
     
 

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London, 1913. An exquisite strand of pale pink pearls, worth more than the Hope Diamond, has been bought by a Hatton Garden broker, capturing the attention of both jewelers and thieves. In transit to London from Paris, the necklace vanishes without a trace.
 
Joseph Grizzard, “the King of Fences,” is the leader of a vast gang of thieves

Overview

London, 1913. An exquisite strand of pale pink pearls, worth more than the Hope Diamond, has been bought by a Hatton Garden broker, capturing the attention of both jewelers and thieves. In transit to London from Paris, the necklace vanishes without a trace.
 
Joseph Grizzard, “the King of Fences,” is the leader of a vast gang of thieves in London’s East End. Having risen from the deadly streets to become a wealthy family man, Grizzard still cannot resist the sport of crime, and the pearl necklace proves an irresistible challenge.
 
Inspector Alfred Ward has joined the brand-new division of the Metropolitan Police known as “detectives.” Having caught some of the great murderers of Victorian London, Ward is now charged with finding the missing pearls and the thief who stole them.
 
In the spirit of The Great Train Robbery, this is the true story of a psychological cat-and-mouse game. Thoroughly researched and compellingly colorful, The Great Pearl Heist is a gripping narrative account of this little-known, yet extraordinary crime.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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.”—Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic

“Fast-paced, full of twists and turns, and rich in detail…Crosby tells a fascinating story rooted in such deep historical research that we can practically watch the drama unfold in real time.”—Jeffrey H. Jackson, author of Paris Under Water

“Culled from archival research of newspaper accounts, Scotland Yard case files, and memoirs of noted thieves, Crosby turns back the clock to a winning true crime tale involving two superior minds—a very capable detective and a wily gentleman criminal—in a jewel heist at the dawn of twentieth-century England...The author highlights the case’s major influence on British crime detection and the legal system, adding a dash of color and realism.”—Publishers Weekly

“Crosby incorporates pearl legends and facts, as well as a great deal of history surrounding the hardships of pearl diving and the intricacies of pearl trading before World War I...Crosby’s thriller-style account is backed up by her intensive research.”—Booklist

Booklist
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...she has crafted another compelling popular history. (Starred review)
Jim Landers
Molly Caldwell Crosby has a lovely talent for imagining history.
— Dallas Morning News (Sunday, November 2, 2012)
Michael Ray Taylor
Crosby brings a clinical eye to her subject, creating a narrative that manages to remain both exciting and informative.
— The Memphis Commercial Appeal (Sunday, November 2, 2012)
Laura Miller
A ripping yarn...Crosby has stepped into the breach, assembling her narrative from an impressive array of sources and then lavishly saucing it with period detail.
— Salon.com (Sunday, November 2, 2012, 5:00 pm)
Library Journal
Crosby (The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History) here recounts the brazen 1913 theft of a valuable pearl necklace by Joseph Grizzard, the "King of Fences." Reading less like the well-researched historical work it is and more like a fast-paced crime thriller, the story of the famed Mayer pearls (worth roughly $18 million in today's dollars), the hunt for the thieves by Scotland Yard's Inspector Alfred Ward and Frank Price of Lloyd's of London, and the subsequent trial and conviction of the elusive gang leader Grizzard and four of his accomplices by prosecutor Sir Richard Muir is set in brightly described local and historical detail. Crosby uses scores of contemporary and modern sources, police files, newspapers, and archival documents to set the scene. At times, it is difficult to distinguish the line between fact and supposition. As Crosby herself notes, there are no personal accounts of the heist itself, and she is attempting to re-create it. VERDICT The book is a gem of information about London's jewelry district, Hatton Garden, as well as the jewelry trade, England's criminal underground, and Scotland Yard's early detective force as well as a great story. Recommended for general readers, historical true-crime buffs, and readers of detective mysteries, especially of the British kind.—Amelia Osterud, Carroll Univ. Lib., Waukesha, WI
Kirkus Reviews
A World War I–era true-crime tale about the theft of the world's most valuable necklace. Heist stories have an enduring fascination for the public, and Crosby (Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic that Remains One of Medicine's Greatest Mysteries, 2010, etc.) offers an exhaustively detailed reconstruction of one all but forgotten by history. The setting is the underworld of London's Hatton Garden jewelry district in the days before the war, and the object of desire is a pink pearl necklace worth around $750,000--by one estimate, nearly $20 million in today's currency. Criminal mastermind Joseph Grizzard, the "King of Fences," had his eye on the necklace, and he concocted a plan to intercept it as it traveled by mail between two dealers. Despite the colorful setting and cast of characters, the narrative is slowed by the author's efforts to explain every detail of life in London, giving it the feel of a history textbook at times. In the aftermath of the clever--though not particularly exciting--theft, the story picks up a bit of steam as the thieves attempt to cash in, with Scotland Yard and its ace detective, Inspector Alfred Ward, hot on the trail. Crosby leaves no aspect of the case unexamined, and the book will be extremely valuable as a reference material on 1913 London. But none of the characters truly come to life, and the necklace, beautiful and valuable though it may be, doesn't have the romance and mystery of the Hope Diamond or Star of India. Lacks the excitement of a truly thrilling heist caper, but offers an illuminating glimpse into England's criminal past.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101613436
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/27/2012
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
370,571
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A ripping yarn...a real-life, old-time Holmesian entertainment."—Salon

"A gem...In her well-researched account, Crosby recounts the theft, the gang of thieves behind it and Scotland Yard's hunt for the culprints. Her story is rich in the lore of London's famed underworld."—Newsday

"A winning true crime tale involving two superior minds—a very capable detective and a wily gentleman criminal—in a jewel heist at the dawn of twentieth-century England...highlights the cases's major influence on British crime detection and the legal system."—Publishers Weekly

"Crosby's thriller-style account is backed up by her intensive research...Another compelling popular history."—Booklist

"A narrative that manages to remain both exciting and informative...plenty of nefarious action."—The Memphis Commercial Appeal

"Rich and evocative...Crosby has written a book that is as enchanting and irresistible as its subject."—Candice Millard

"Fast paced, full of twists and turns, and rich in detail...Crosby tells us a fascinating story rooted in such deep historical research that we can practically watch the drama unfold in real time."—Jeffrey H. Jackson, author of Paris Under Water

Acclaim for the works of Molly Caldwell Crosby

"Engrossing."—The New York Times Book Review

"Riveting storytelling."—Publishers Weekly

"Gripping...Highly readable."—Newsweek
 

Meet the Author

Molly Caldwell Crosby is the national bestselling author of Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic that Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries and The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History, which has been nominated for several awards. Crosby holds a master of arts degree in nonfiction and science writing from Johns Hopkins University and previously worked for National Geographic magazine. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, Health, and USA Today, among others.  

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The Great Pearl Heist: London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Necklace 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great look at turn of the century culture in London. Nicely woven story of the subculture of professional thieves and the beginnings of the modern Scotland Yard. Crosby's writing puts the reader in the real world of the good guys and bad guys as they outwit each other in the broader context of this period in history.
VicG More than 1 year ago
Molly Caldwell Crosby in her new book, “The Great Pearl Heist” published by Berkley Books gives us an account of London’s Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard’s Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Necklace. From the back cover: Molly Caldwell Crosby once again brings forgotten history to vivid life in an absorbing account of crime and deduction in the early days of the twentieth century. . . . 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 East 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. I love history and ”The Great Pearl Heist” is a captivating study of a crime that is very little known. I am a huge fan of the old television series, “Banacek”. Banacek was an independent investigator for the insurance companies where he found missing items for the reward and the items that were stolen were done in a highly complex manner. That was fiction this is fact and Ms. Crosby has done a spectacular job in bringing all the details of this case to our attention. And what fascinating characters are involved here. First there is the master criminal: Joseph Grizzard, who is a highly complex human being. Then there is the detective: Alfred Ward, who is famous for his skills in a new area of law enforcement. These two will go head to head in their clash over the missing pearl necklace which provides for captivating reading from start to finish. Ms. Crosby is an excellent writer who delivers a very exciting, well researched study of the true events of 1913. Don’t start this book late at night because you will give up sleep to want to finish it before turning in. “The Great Pearl Heist” is great fun to read and is much more interesting than a lot of the fiction that is available. I recommend it highly. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Berkley Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
WriteReason More than 1 year ago
Great Book!  The characters were real, the location was real, and the story was true.  The author did an excellent job of relating the historic details in such a way that you felt you knew those involved, not only in the heist, but  also in solving the crime.  A vivid picture of turn of the century London--culture, crime, and detective work.  If you like true crime, and history woven in such a way that it is a pleasure to read, take this book, and enjoy.i
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Peanut61 More than 1 year ago
Interesting. Not the best account of early real crime writing but worth a read.
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Good read
efm More than 1 year ago
good story of early scotland yard and extremely valuable pearls.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting look at an upper echelon jewelry theft crime which evokes the London underworld with style. The detailing of the intricacies of the crime's planning and execution was intriguing as was the narration of the apprehension of the criminals. If you enjoy mysteries and criminal case histories, you'll enjoy this heist story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All the details of the "Heist" are given in the first chapter, and the whole story is told in about half of the book. Very little from the detective or the criminal's point of view. The rest of the book is spent telling tales about the life of the protagonists after the solution of the crime. Generally not worth the time.
RegCarver More than 1 year ago
I just bought this a few days ago and am a few chapters in. I can't wait to get to it each night. Wonderfully researched and well-written book.  Get this one as a treat for yourself. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good read