Peter Lovesey Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

One of the attractions of Peter Lovesey’s work is the interesting sidelights the author offers into esoteric aspects of history. His background in the history of sports has served him well, but not content with the Victorian setting with which he made his name, he has widened his scope to explore other time periods. Rather than trying to recapture the style of bygone eras, Lovesey writes from a modern perspective, thus achieving an interesting juxtaposition of different detective-fiction traditions. The consistently high quality of his historical research, his brilliant plots, and the skill with which he tells stories, ranging in tone from the serious to the comic, put Lovesey in the top ranks of historical mystery writers.

Lovesey’s later novels, while set in more recent times, reveal the same skill in plotting, characterization, and subtle humor, whether the novels are set in a small corner of England or range around the globe. Although Lovesey’s plots sometimes center on modern technology, his sleuths’ commitment to using traditional methods, while maintaining their own independence, shows the connection between the past and the present, particularly in the mystery genre.

Lovesey’s numerous awards include the Crime Writers’ Association’s Silver Dagger Awards in 1978 for Waxwork, 1995 for The Summons, and 1996 for Bloodhounds, and the Gold Dagger Award in 1983 for The False Inspector Dew; the Anthony Award in 1992 for The Last Detective, and Macavity Awards in 1997 for Bloodhounds and 2004 for The House Sitter. In 2000 he was awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award by the Crime Writers’ Association of Great Britain for his lifetime achievement in the field.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Bedell, Jeanne F. “Peter Lovesey’s Sergeant Cribb and Constable Thackeray.” In Cops and Constables: American and British Fictional Policemen, edited by Earl F. Bargainnier and George N. Dove. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1986. Astute analysis of the relationships among Sergeant Cribb, Constable Thackeray, and Inspector Jowett. Bedell theorizes that Lovesey stopped the Cribb series because he had taken the characters as far as they could go.

Carr, John C. The Craft of Crime: Conversations with Crime Writers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983. Contains a rambling yet substantial interview with Lovesey, in which he discusses the Victorian backgrounds for the Cribb novels: its sporting life, its criminal life, its police force.

Cooper-Clark, Diana. “An Interview with Peter Lovesey.” In The Armchair Detective 14 (Summer, 1981): 210-217. Substantial and informative interview in which Lovesey explains his choice of the Victorian era for his first series and why Cribb is the sort of detective he is.

Hanson, Gilliam Mary. City and Shore: The Function of Setting in British Mystery. Jefferson, N.C.: Mcfarland, 2004. Contains an essay on Mad Hatter’s Holiday that examines the importance of setting in the work.

Huang, Jim, and Austin Lugar, eds. Mystery Muses: One Hundred Classics That Inspire Today’s Mystery Writers. Carmel, Ind.: Crum Creek Press, 2006. In one of the essays in this work, Lovesey describes why he admires Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train (1950) and, in doing so, provides insight into his own writing.

Hurt, James. “How Unlike the Home Life of Our Own Dear Queen: The Detective Fiction of Peter Lovesey.” In Art in Crime Writing: Essays on Detective Fiction, edited by Bernard Benstock. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983. Sound analysis of the Cribb novels as detective novels, the characterization of secondary characters, and Lovesey’s use of the Victorian period.

Lovesey, Peter. “Magician, Actor, Runner—Writer.” Writer 101 (January, 1988): 11. Lovesey looks at how his childhood interests influenced his writing.

Lovesey, Peter. “An Up-to-Date Victorian.” Interview by Leonard Picker. Publishers Weekly 252, no. 13 (March 28, 2005): 60. Brief interview with Lovesey on the publication of The Circle. Discusses his use of a female detective with Diamond and whether he would ever resurrect the Sergeant Cribb series.

Silet, Charles L. P. Talking Murder: Interviews with Twenty Mystery Writers. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999. Contains an interview with Lovesey in which he discusses his life and his writing.