Superintendent John Lambert and his partner Detective Sergeant Bert Hook are characters created by writer James Michael Gregson, more commonly known as J.M. Gregson, in the book series called Lambert and Hook.
Gregson was a teacher for almost three decades before he moved to writing full-time. Also a renowned public speaker, he has written on a wide range of topics, although his genius became known when he introduced his two major characters—Lambert and Hook—in a mystery and thriller series containing as many as 29 books.
Most of these books have been published in several editions, with as many as eight editions for some of the books. With the first one published way back in 1989, the series is now almost in its third decade, with the latest book scheduled for release in the year 2016.
The Lambert and Hook Series
The series is a mystery thriller that mostly deals with British police procedural crime, with the story in each book running almost the same plot—a murder is committed, the expertise of partners Superintendent John Lambert and Detective Sergeant Bert Hook is put to the test as they are called upon to solve the mysterious death, and the two characters embark on an investigation. A series of suspects will be presented in the story, and the book will revolve around piecing together the clues in order to find the killer.
Despite the parallel plot, the stories engage in that they stimulate readers and make them think. Readers are unconsciously involved in the story and make their own investigation and guesses, as they are presented with clues and as the story unfolds towards the end, much like solving a puzzle. The stories can be read as part of the entire series, or individually. Readers will have no difficulty starting in the middle of the series. The stories also feature a gentle sense of humor, lighter than Gregson’s other popular book series, Inspector Peach.
The setting is mostly urban, but the background of the stories depicts the wide variety of the author’s interests—from the prevailing use of golf in the series as what appear to be the characters’ primary sport, as well as the author’s use of a Shakespearean play as the setting around which one of the stories in the series revolves.
About the Characters
John Lambert and Bert Hook are introduced as both policemen and golf enthusiasts from Gloucestershire, England. Lambert is depicted as the boss of Hook, and the two often find themselves as partners in solving crimes that usually involve murder.
Throughout the series, the two are shown to face a wide range of situations and suspects—starting out from the golf club, to an actor’s circle, a university, and even in the police force. In several of the books, they are faced with a serial killer that they have to apprehend before the dead body count increases.
Although most of the books depict Lambert and Hook solving crimes and working the neighborhood, there are a few scenes that offer readers a glimpse into their life outside of the police force. In the book Something is Rotten, there is a side plot that shows Lambert’s home life, something that does not frequently occur in some of the books.
Murder at the Nineteenth (First published in 1989)
The characters of Superintendent John Lambert and Detective Sergeant Bert Hook were introduced in the book Murder at the Nineteenth, the very first book in the Lambert and Hook series, a ‘whodunit’ story that set the tone for the rest of the stories in the series. The story opened in the golf club, and this was when it was established that both Lambert and Hook were avid golf players, something that they well carried into the succeeding books.
It was established in the first book that it was Lambert’s first time to investigate a murder that involved people he personally knew—from the murdered victim who was not only a famous businessman in the community but was also Chairman of the golf club, to the witnesses and suspects belonging to the same golf club. The members of the club involved some of the most prominent members of the local community, and it was obvious that the murder had an unsettling effect on everyone—which was initially understandable, until it became apparent that the reason was because the murderer was just in their midst.
A media investigation and a Chief Constable that made the situation even more complicated added color to the story, and Lambert had to race to a solution aided by his partner Hook.
An Academic Death (Published in 2001)
What initially appeared as a simple missing person report turned out to be a more serious case when the popular university lecturer Matthew Upson turned up dead by a bullet to his head. Set in the University of Gloucestershire, the characters involved Upson’s wife who made it clear she doesn’t care about her missing husband, several members of the student body and the faculty, and various other interesting characters.
As the character of the victim was further revealed and secrets started to emerge, this popular professor was discovered as both an adulterer and a drug dealer. With these revelations, the roster of suspects start to get bigger and the search for the killer became more challenging for the partners. Is it his wife, who made it clear she had no love left for him? Or is it a case of a woman scorn involving one of the professor’s previous lovers? Or is it a drug-related crime? The detectives have to scour through the campus, interview uncooperative persons of interest and potential witnesses, as well as deal with drug lords and dealers, if they are to uncover the truth and find the culprit.
J. M. Gregson has created a duo of universal characters that lovers of mystery thrillers would surely be familiar with. Lambert and Hook have been with readers for almost 30 years, bringing an enjoyable sense of suspense and thrilling both old timers and new Gregson readers. The wit, sense of humor, and the excellent use of social observation in the stories make each book a worthwhile read, whether for those looking for a leisurely piece or those who want a real detective feel.Book Series In Order » Characters » Lambert and Hook