A sighting of the Big Five


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Posted by Robert Hill on September 17, 2009 at 20:18:46 user eclrh.

'It's the Big Five really' said Dorothea. 'They are the greatest detectives in the world. They sit in their cubby holes in Scotland Yard and solve one mystery after another.'

The Big Five detectives have been discussed here on Tarboard occasionally, but references to them in the outside world don't seem to come up very often.

There was one a couple of Saturdays ago in the Guardian's weekend magazine: a compendium of reminiscences of life as a crime reporter by the Guardian's crime correspondent, Duncan Campbell (not to be confused with Duncan Campbell the investigative reporter who specialises in the intelligence services and associated technology, who was a defendant in the ABC trial, and who also sometimes writes for the Guardian).

The article by Duncan Campbell the crime reporter seems to be condensed from a book by him that is coming out. Perhaps as a result of the condensation it does some jumping back and forth across the decades. Talking about the 1950s it says:

'There were more than 100 police forces in England and Wales, and many had only a handful of detectives. This meant that when a big murder happened outside London, it was a case of "Send for the Yard" and for one of the "Big Five" the quintet of detective superintendents who led the major investigations. Often those detectives would stay in the same country hotel or pub as the reporters, and benefit handsomely from Fleet Street's then generous expenses culture.'

For non-Brits who read the full article, I should explain that "Life on Mars" is a TV series in which a modern policeman accidentally travels back to the 1970s and encounters the different policing methods of that period.



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