The Great Pearl Heist by Molly Caldwell Crosby
A pleasing blend of history and true crime without violence, set in 1913 London. An amazing necklace of matched natural pearls is acquired by jeweler Max Mayer. More valuable than the Hope Diamond, and insured by Lloyds of London, the necklace is closely guarded. Word of the necklace reaches Joseph Grizzard, head of a gang of jewel thieves from London’s East End. With a network of jewelers, jewelry buyers, and informants, Grizzard discovers that the necklace might be shipped by mail from Paris for viewing by prospective buyers. When the necklace is stolen, possibly in France, Scotland Yard’s Inspector Alfred Ward has one main suspect: Joseph Grizzard. No one besides Grizzard could have planned the successful heist. But how could he catch the “uncatchable” Grizzard? And how could Grizzard fence the pearls, as they couldn’t be recut like diamonds? Meanwhile, an agent of Lloyds of London is trying to recover the pearls, and his informants are nervous and undependable. I won’t say more except that a reader might end up rooting for the very civilized and clever Grizzard gang. I would have preferred less background on the characters and more about pearl diving and the necklace itself, but overall this was a fascinating read.