Books by Martha Grimes

Martha Grimes is the bestselling author of 20 Richard Jury mysteries and also the acclaimed fiction Belle Ruin, Cold Flat Junction, Hotel Paradise, Foul Matter, The End of the Pier and The Train Now Departing. Photo credit: Ed McManus

THE KNOWLEDGE by Martha Grimes
Released: April 3, 2018

"Grimes' endlessly fertile imagination conjures up new people, places, and episodes that you'll want to hear all about however tangential they end up being to the dubious case that's supposed to tie them all together."
Detective Superintendent Richard Jury (Vertigo 42, 2014, etc.) joins with the usual friends and relations and a covey of London black cab drivers to unravel a spectacularly public double murder. Read full book review >
VERTIGO 42 by Martha Grimes
Released: June 3, 2014

"Though newcomers may find Jury enigmatic without a complete back story (The Black Cat, 2010, etc.), the character sketches Grimes (The Way of All Fish, 2014, etc.) provides are more satisfying than other authors' full portraits. Longtime fans will find this tale fully worthy of Jury and his regulars."
Richard Jury returns to investigate four deaths separated by time and geography. Read full book review >
THE WAY OF ALL FISH by Martha Grimes
Released: Jan. 7, 2014

"Grimes (Fadeaway Girl, 2011, etc.) brings a crazy-quilt sensibility to a romp that ultimately sags a bit under the weight of its own cleverness. Despite its pallid heroine, however, this sendup of the book world, in which hit men apparently have more integrity than publishers, is great fun."
Unlikely alliances form in a plot to neutralize an author's greedy former agent. Read full book review >
DOUBLE DOUBLE by Martha Grimes
Released: June 4, 2013

"This brave and engaging memoir is a gift to readers struggling with drinking problems."
A leading American mystery writer and her son recall their lives as alcoholics and their diverse paths to sobriety. Read full book review >
FADEAWAY GIRL by Martha Grimes
Released: Feb. 7, 2011

"Emma is as enchanting as the eccentric cast of her hometown."
The latest installment in the endless carnival of crime at sleepy La Porte, Md., involves still another return to the storied past. Read full book review >
DUST by Martha Grimes
Released: Jan. 16, 2007

"Series fans will welcome the return of plausible psychopath Harry Johnson (The Old Wine Shades, Feb. 2006) and several key supporting players that Grimes presents with sympathetic insight."
Scotland Yard Supt. Richard Jury is dragged into his 22nd case by the first of many children wise and meddlesome beyond their years. Read full book review >
THE OLD WINE SHADES by Martha Grimes
Released: Feb. 21, 2006

"Even fans who can't appreciate the passing strangeness of this truly special adventure will be won over by a precocious little girl and a dog of rare intelligence."
Supt. Richard Jury's 20th case begins as the shaggiest of shaggy-dog stories, moves through a critique of quantum mechanics and ends in a truly mystical realm. Read full book review >
FOUL MATTER by Martha Grimes
Released: Aug. 18, 2003

"Publishing's archly amusing answer to Get Shorty—except that since it's books rather than movies, instead of crazy things happening very fast, crazy things get talked about at length and not all that much happens in the end. "
Grimes forsakes Supt. Richard Jury's British haunts (The Grave Maurice, 2002, etc.) for a criminal farce played out in the cutthroat world of New York publishers. Read full book review >
THE GRAVE MAURICE by Martha Grimes
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

"Quintessential Grimes, with a rich canvas and suspicion bouncing from one quirky character to another like a pumped-up pinball."
Inspector Richard Jury lies in hospital, rescued and recuperating from the unresolved ending of his 16th case (The Blue Last, 2001, etc.). His waking hours are spent fending off the intrusions of simpering Nurse Bell and (naturally) studying Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time when his sidekick Melrose Plant visits with a mystery closer to home. Nell Ryder, the teenaged daughter of Jury's surgeon Roger, has been missing nearly two years. Ever since she vanished from the family business, the successful Ryder Stud Farm, along with the valuable horse Aqueduct, Nell's case has languished in the absence of leads or a ransom demand. With Jury incapacitated, the wealthy Melrose delves with a vengeance into the singular world of horse breeding and racing. Grimes, meanwhile, offers glimpses of a free-spirited Nell riding Aqueduct through the countryside under cover of darkness, hinting at a more complex explanation of her kidnapping. On a training track, Nell comes across the corpse of a woman, meticulously dressed and coiffed. When police swarm the site next morning, Melrose recognizes the victim as the woman he overheard talking in a pub called the Grave Maurice about Nell's disappearance. Maurice is also the name of Nell's naïve young cousin, fearful of his robust father, who rides as well as raises equine champions. Released from hospital, Jury makes up for lost time, questioning among others a handful of sexually aggressive women with designs on him. Read full book review >
THE BLUE LAST by Martha Grimes
Released: Sept. 10, 2001

"Some of the interweaving is ingenious, though loose ends still dangle. Even so, Grimes's delicious people portraits and elegant prose are as entertaining as ever."
Benny Keegan, 12, sleeps under Waterloo Bridge and scrapes together a living running errands. His best friend is Gemma Trimm, 9, imaginative ward of elderly magnate Oliver Tynedale. Gemma, who likens herself to Little Nell, claims someone is trying to kill her. But Inspector Richard Jury (The Lamorna Wink, 1999, etc.) is visiting Tynedale Lodge with other ends: to investigate the murder of Simon Croft, son of Tynedale's friend and partner Francis, and to probe a potential 60-year-old crime uncovered by DCI Mickey Haggerty. London's last bombsite, a pub called The Blue Last, has finally been excavated, revealing the bodies of Tynedale's daughter Alexandra and a baby. Alexandra had been at the pub with Kitty, her nanny, and their very young daughters, Maisie and Erin, respectively. The surviving little girl has grown up as Maisie Tynedale. But Haggerty thinks she is Erin. Would Kitty kill to protect her secret? As usual, Grimes crowds her tale with unexpected characters—there's a chapter told from the perspective of Benny's dog, Sparky—and crisscrossing subplots. Haggerty is rapidly dying of cancer; his wife Liza is Jury's old flame. Haunted by childhood memories of the Blitz, Jury seeks answers about his mother. Meanwhile, his sidekick Melrose Plant journeys to Florence with the obligatory wealthy madcaps to authenticate a work of Renaissance art. It's Benny's five employers, all with colorful backstories, who eventually point Jury and Melrose to the surprising but logical solution. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 12, 2001

" A tour de force whose cobwebby little mystery, less sequel than remake, is fleshed out with dozens of memorably Dickensian grotesques."
It's been five years since prodigious preteen sleuth Emma Graham debuted in Hotel Paradise (1996), but this equally appealing sequel from Richard Jury's creator (The Lamorna Wink, 1999, etc.) is set only a week later. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2000

A pair of thematically connected novellas—about loneliness—by the author of the Richard Jury mysteries (The Stargazey, 1998, etc.) and, most recently, Biting the Moon (1999). At the center of each is a woman leading a life in gunmetal gray. Dissimilar in detail—one protagonist is English, the other American; one has a friend or two, the other seems not to have any—the women are alike in their resignation, in the degree to which their expectations have shrunk. And in their terrible vulnerability, which in both cases is exploited by a powerful man. In "The Train Now Departing," the American story, much of what happens takes place over a Magritte-like series of lunches. Having begun quite accidentally, they have become self-perpetuating, ritualized. The man (neither character is named) is a well-known travel writer who hates to travel. The woman, on the other hand, would like to travel—and has the means to, as her companion insists on pointing out—but she has long ceased to regard herself as a person who travels. They pick at each other with increasing skill: obligatory mini attacks—not meant to hurt really, mounted mostly because the other is there. In "When The Mousetrap Closes," Edith Parenger meets Archie Marchbanks in her favorite tea shop. He's a brilliant young actor; she's a longtime admirer. When she recognizes him, she forces herself to go to his table, behavior atypical enough to be heart-fluttering and, later, inexplicable. He, however, is kind. More than that, he seems actually eager to pursue an acquaintanceship. As in the first story, there is nothing overtly sexual in the relationship, yet both women are heavily invested. Also as in the first, the end, when it comes, is bruising. Clear-eyed, nuanced probings into the cruelty of isolation, and though persuasively sad, neither novella is at all sentimental. But readers who come to Grimes for a Richard Jury-like experience should be warned: these are lives of very quiet desperation. Read full book review >
THE LAMORNA WINK by Martha Grimes
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

For most of the 16th in her Richard Jury series Grimes allows the great detective to lie fallow. This, then, is the greening of Melrose Plant, Jury's Watsonlike friend and admirer. Though laid back by definition—it's in his aristocratic DNA—Plant does make the most of his opportunity. That is, before you can say Lord Peter Wimsey, there he is up to his designer Wellingtons in homicides. True, a couple of the untimely deaths are four years old, but fresh ones loom. And it's all happening on the storied Cornwall coast where the inhabitants are famous for being sullen, secretive, and prone to intemperate behavior (see DuMaurier's Rebecca). In the village of Bletchley, Brenda Friel and Chris Wells operate a successful tearoom. Chris goes missing. Melrose suspects foul play. Ah, but there's a hitch. Not only is Miss Chris a missing person, she's a leading suspect—in the murder of a young woman she's reputed to have held in extremely low regard. While all this is going on in Cornwall, trouble breaks out in Long Piddleton, Northampton, home base to Melrose and his band of charming eccentrics (see The Stargazey, 1998, or any other series entry). Rampant complications, tear-away subplots, until, at virtually the last moment, Jury rides in on his deus ex machina to pull it all together'sort of. Discursive and overplotted, yes, though no more than is typical of this highly popular series. Read full book review >
BITING THE MOON by Martha Grimes
Released: April 1, 1999

The longtime chronicler of Inspector Richard Jury and his menagerie of friends (The Stargazey, 1998, etc.) goes west for this tale of a young woman on the road from nowhere aiming to solve the mystery of her identity. What would you do if you woke up one morning in a bed-and-breakfast with no memory of how you got there or anything else about yourself, only the smiling promise of the b&b owner that "Daddy" had gone into Santa Fe and would be back in a couple of hours? Well, Andi Oliver, who spontaneously christens herself from the initials on her backpack and the name of the nearby Sandia Crest, isn't the sort of person who takes things lying down, and long before Daddy returns she has stuffed her backpack with $600 and a Smith & Wesson she finds among his things and has vamoosed. Her first wanderings take her to a mountain cabin that becomes her headquarters as she ventures out to rescue coyotes caught in steel-jawed traps. But months later, on one of her trips to a pharmacy for the codeine she uses to anaesthetize her trapped patients, she hooks up with Mary Dark Hope, 13, who sees Andi as the perfect replacement for her own murdered older sister Angela, and the two decide that, instead of waiting to see if Daddy ever returns to menace Andi again, they'll hunt him down and confront him themselves. The girls have precious little to go on—just the suspicious behavior of a man who gave Andi a lift and the fact that Daddy's Camaro had Idaho plates—and they're constantly getting sidetracked by their weakness for suffering animals. But their adventures among government animal controllers, white-water rafters, hunters of caged wild animals, and dogfight connoisseurs inexorably bring them closer to a showdown with Daddy. Grimes's young heroines are as grave and enchanting as you'd expect, and she shows a nice eye for the relations between inhumanity toward animals and other, more shocking kinds of same. Read full book review >
THE STARGAZEY by Martha Grimes
Released: Nov. 1, 1998

Another exotic adventure in never-never land for Scotland Yard's Richard Jury and his rich, titled sidekick, Melrose Plant. At the Stargazey pub, Jury observed a striking blond woman in an elegant fur coat. He idly followed her to the gates of Fulham Palace, which she entered while he went about his business. That night, the body of a woman fitting that description (hut lacking identification) is found in the Palace gardens—murdered. But Jury knows it's not the same woman. The fur coat provides a trail that leads to old-time movie star Mona Dresser, who'd given the coat to Olivia Inge, her daughter by the late Clive Fabricant. Clive's second wife is lions Kuraukov, aristocratic mother of Nicholas and Sebastian, art gallery owners. At this point, Jury enlists old friend and unofficial aide Melrose Plant to find out more about the Fabricants. The murder victim has finally been identified as one Nancy Pastis, a widow with an alibi and a weird story of a vanished child to tell. Meanwhile, Melrose's efforts at the gallery and at Boring's, his London club, bring him a couple of good paintings, a lone dud, and a burgeoning friendship with elderly club member Simeon Pitt, onetime art critic for the Times and slated to become the second victim of one of Grimes's least believable killers. Melrose's own life is soon at risk, only to be saved by an unlikely rescuer. Vignettes of life in Melrose's village, Long Piddleton; a pungent take on the contemporary art scene; a steady stream of loopy characters—all help to make Grimes's 15th Jury outing (The Case Has Altered, 1997, etc.) great fun. Just don't look for common sense or logic. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

"The worst things happened to Jury's women," muses his friend Melrose Plant all too accurately. The victim this time is Supt. Richard Jury's former lover Lady Jennifer Kennington, suspected first of shooting actress Verna Dunn, then two weeks later strangling Dorcas Reese, homely kitchen girl at Fengate, the residence of Verna's ex-husband Max Owen. Jury's first idea- -prying Plant loose from his litigious aunt's nuisance suit against inoffensive secondhand-shopkeeper Ada Crisp to send him undercover to Lincolnshire as the antiques appraiser who'll help evaluate Max's treasures—yields lots of data about Max, his understanding wife Grace, his sculptor nephew Jack Price, and their neighbors Major Linus Parker and Peter Emery, his blind groundskeeper. But despite the data, there are precious few conclusions. And when Jury confronts Jenny directly, she simply admits an undeniable motive for killing Verna and expands on the lies she's already told the police. So it's on to the courtroom, where procedural fireworks await. As always with Grimes (Hotel Paradise, 1996, etc.), the pace is leisurely, at times maddeningly so; yet the endless repetitions of the case's central questions—what was Dorcas so sorry she'd listened to and done? why did she tell her trusted intimates she was pregnant when she wasn't? why were the two murders committed with different weapons?—actually deepen their mystery instead of dispelling it. Even the farcical subplot—that nuisance lawsuit back home- -adds its counterweight to the Fen Country gloom to produce Grimes's best book in years. Read full book review >
HOTEL PARADISE by Martha Grimes
Released: May 2, 1996

Grimes, who's been edging away from the whodunit in her last several cases for Supt. Richard Jury (Rainbow's End, 1995, etc.), dismisses Jury completely in this crossover novel about a young girl's obsession with a suspicious 40-year-old death. There's plenty to do around La Porte's Hotel Paradise, the small-town hostelry Emma Graham's family has run for a hundred years. Despite Emma's youth, her mother has her helping in the kitchen and waiting tables for the few customers who keep the Paradise in business. But there's not much to think about, and it's no wonder that Emma, spellbound by the recent apparition of a mysterious blond girl, fixes on the story of Mary-Evelyn Devereau, drowned in Spirit Lake when she was 12, Emma's own age. What was Mary-Evelyn doing out alone in a boat at night, wearing one of her best dresses, and why didn't her family report her missing till the next morning? Idly at first, then with a deepening passion, Emma launches an investigation into this forgotten mystery, eagerly questioning anyone who remembers Mary-Evelyn, and poring over every scrap of physical evidence she can find. Extravagant obstacles stand in the way of an inconsequential girl's attempts at detection: Barely anybody around La Porte seems to remember or care about the case at all, and they certainly aren't about to share their recollections with the likes of her. Yet Emma, as a friendly fortuneteller assures her, is "resolute" enough to endure the indifference of everyone in La Porte but Sheriff Sam DeGheyn and to interrogate a pair of subverbal brothers, call endless taxis to nearby Cold Flat Junction, and confront a newly released convict in a magical climax. The originality here—the convention of a radically disempowered detective set against a densely imagined but indifferent world—will remind some readers of Barbara Vine, others of the Henry James of "In the Cage" and The Awkward Age. It shows off Grimes's gifts for extravagant digression beautifully. Read full book review >
RAINBOW'S END by Martha Grimes
Released: June 14, 1995

The first victim, American silversmith Angela Hope, is found at the bottom of a latrine at Salisbury's Old Sarum ruins. The second, Frances Hamilton, collapses at the Tate Gallery. And the third, Nell Hawes, dies during a visit to the tapestries she'd helped work on at Exeter Cathedral. All are apparently natural deaths — but the common thread of Angela Hope's Santa Fe, New Mexico, address makes it obvious that they're all murders, and after 200 pages of top-heavy domestic digressions, it's obvious even to Supt. Richard Jury (The Horse You Came In On, 1994, etc.). After the punishing pace of the opening movement, Jury's journey from Salisbury to Santa Fe — where he'll meet a cartoonish Hollywood agent, the standard run of New Age dreamers and retailers, and an altogether remarkable 13-year-old girl who's the best thing in the book — comes as a welcome relief from the facetiously complementary detective adventures of wealthy parasite Melrose Plant back home. Even here, though, the mystery plot shimmers and recedes like a desert mirage as Grimes's appetite for episodic whimsies runs unchecked. Grimes seems intent on confirming her status as the successor to Dorothy Sayers, though it's the Sayers of Busman's Honeymoon — that notorious "love story with detective interruptions" best appreciated by hopeless infatuates of the hero. Read full book review >
Released: July 21, 1993

Is any mystery writer more generous than Grimes in spinning out subplots and a supporting cast? In bringing Scotland Yard's superintendent Richard Jury to America to investigate the murder of young Philip Calvert, who worked in Philadelphia's Barnes Foundation, she provides not only two other murders (Baltimore street person John- Joy and ambitious Johns Hopkins Ph.D. candidate Beverly Brown) that might be connected—and just how they're connected is the best surprise here—but also a newly discovered story that Brown insisted was by Edgar Allan Poe (yes, we get to read the whole thing); a minimalist novelist, Brown's teacher, who chains herself to her writing desk; Jury sidekick Melrose Plant's swooping excursion into early Baltimore genealogy (courtesy of a riotously misinformed cabbie); and much, much more. As in Jury's recent cases (The Old Contemptibles, 1990, etc.), the high-spirited feast of episodes, settings, and allusions—from Chatterton to Barry Levinson to a secondhand store called Nouveau Pauvre—is too sumptuous for Jury or his fans to digest fully. But if some readers will complain that Grimes has left a million loose ends, nobody will rise from this table still hungry. Read full book review >
THE END OF THE PIER by Martha Grimes
Released: April 14, 1992

Something completely different from the author of the popular, ever-so-British Inspector Jury mysteries (The Old Contemptibles, etc.). This time the setting is small-town America, the mystery is secondary (a psycho serial-killer of sporadic interest), and the emphasis instead is on earnest character-studies that never quite add up. The primary character under scrutiny is Maud Chadwick, a divorcee in her late 40s who works as a diner waitress in sleepy La Porte, a town somewhere considerably "up north" from N.Y.C. Maud, dreamy and depressed, spends her free time obsessing about son Chad, 20, whose increasing adult-ness and separate-ness devastate her. She whiles away her summer evenings sitting at the end of her backyard pier—fantasizing about the rich summerfolk who party across the lake, puzzling over Wallace Stevens's poetry, and chatting (edgily yet amiably) with La Porte's sheriff, Sam DeGheyn, himself lonely in his lousy marriage to unfaithful Florence. Sam, meanwhile, has his own obsession: the savage murders of four local "loose women" over the past few years, crimes not solved to Sam's satisfaction (despite the conviction of young "Boy" Chalmers for some of the killings). And indeed Grimes introduces us, without naming names, to the real psycho-killer, through run-of-the-mill interior monologues. She also interjects—with far less coherence—a long episode in which young Chad visits the stately home of a decadent college-pal and gets entangled in the family's glitzy, dreary pathology. (This section reads like a watery American imitation of Brideshead Revisited.) At its best, atmospheric psychological suspense reminiscent of L.R. Wright. At its worst, a pretentious mishmash: though linked by a theme (parent-child relationships), the pieces don't fit satisfyingly together—and Maud's ultra-sensitivity has limited appeal. Still, Grimes writes fetchingly at times, has a large following (much of which will be plenty disappointed), and a first printing of 100,000 copies is planned. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 23, 1990

Ever-eclectic in her borrowings of style and substance from the best English mysteries, Grimes (The Dirty Duck, Jerusalem Inn, etc.) makes her latest a real jumble: part psychosexual gothic (Ö la P.D. James), part sentimental tragicomedy, part eccentric farce—with far more satisfaction in the separate parts than in the unconvincing whole. The story begins very Inspector Morse-ishly—as somber Supt. Jury fails in love with lovely widow Jane Holdsworth, only to lose her almost immediately: Jane commits suicide by overdose—or is it murder? To find out which, Jury sends his amateur sidekick Melrose Plant up to the Lake District, where the wealthy Holdsworth clan resides—headed by irascible Adam, 89, whose beloved poet-grandson (also a suicide) was Jane's husband. Is someone perhaps killing off all of Adam's favorite relatives for inheritance purposes? If so, then Jane's 16-year-old son Alex—a grieving would-be sleuth—may be in danger. Alex's moody encounters with teen-aged cook Millie (child of another suspicious suicide) are gently affecting; old Adam's capers at a local retirement-home are giddily amusing; there's a whole gallery of fetching characters. But the pieces never come together effectively. Nor does the plot—which involves too many family secrets and oblique motives. Still: superior page-by-page entertainment from a skillful imitator. Read full book review >
THE OLD SILENT by Martha Grimes
Released: Sept. 5, 1989

Scotland Yard's Superintendent Richard Jury (The Deer Leap, etc.)—suffering ennui and at more-than-usual odds with superior officer A.E. Racer—is sole witness to the quiet killing of music-critic Roger Healy by his wife Nell, in the lounge of the Old Silent inn. Nell is withdrawn, enigmatic, and the richest member of Yorkshire's Citrine family—father Charles and his sister Irene—a family involved eight years before in another tragedy when Billy, Roger's son from a first marriage, and his best friend, Toby Holt, were kidnapped and held for ransom. On police advice, Nell chose not to pay. Billy was never seen again. Weeks later, Toby's body was identified by his adopted uncle Owen—victim of a fatal accident, it seemed. Now, near the cheerless Citrine country house is Weaver Hall, where Jury's old friend Melrose Plant is staying for a few days; and Ann Denholme, who runs the place, is aunt to self-sufficient 11-year-old Abby Cable, who lives in the barn with dog Stranger and a collection of pop-star posters. Jury, intrigued though officially out of his jurisdiction, talks to the Citrines, Nell included; to Abby; and to the eccentric boarders at Weaver Hall, trying to find the motive behind Nell's black deed. But the murder of Ann Denholme only deepens the puzzle—until Jury's path leads inexorably to a pulse-quickening climax at a mega-rock-group concert in a packed London hall; to more bloody mayhem; and, finally, to some answers. . . . . .answers that, unfortunately, are not achieved with brevity and barely with clarity. Grimes pursues many seductive byways—Greek mythology; the world of jazz and rock; the skills of sheepherding dogs; designer clothes; the Orient Express. She writes, as always, with charm, authority and ironic wit, but the digressions slow and bloat a story that sags midway but recovers nicely. Overlong and self-indulgent but still a class act. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 25, 1987

Supt. Richard Jury, down in the village of Long Piddleton again, visiting chum Melrose Plant, finds his vacation suddenly interrupted—when a bloody corpse falls out of a secretaire in Marshall Trueblood's posh antique shop. The secretaire, it turns out, was just purchased from Lady Summerston, aged grande dame of the Watermeadows estate; and the body is that of Simon Lean—the fortune-hunting, philandering, caddishly charming husband of Lady Summerston's reclusive granddaughter Hannah. At first the primary suspects are the dead man's local mistresses, along with his neglected wife (who claims to have been ready for divorce—and thus unmotivated). But Jury then goes to London, on the trail of Simon's lowdown Limehouse-district mistress, and runs directly into another homicide; the murder of ambitious street-girl Sadie Diver. . .who was indeed Simon's girlfriend. . .and who bears a strange resemblance to Simon's wife Hannah! Obviously, the two killings are linked, but exactly how? The possibilities are endless—because Sadie's body can't be definitely identified, not even by her devoted little brother (whom Jury touchingly takes under his wing). So, while considering all the identity-switch alternatives, Jury plays cat-and-mouse interrogation games with Hannah Lean—who is either an imposter or a murderer. . .or both. "Ambiguous to the end," this ninth Jury episode is an unabashed mixture—part sentimental comedy, part trick-whodunit (very reminiscent of double-twist Christie), with a touch of dark Brat Farrar-ish psychological suspense. But, even if oddly paced and blandly padded (sidekick Melrose Plant has never seemed so extraneous), this is steadily absorbing and stylishly crafty in its varied moods: further evidence (with last year's I Am the Only Running Footman) that Grimes intends to avoid the formula foolishness that once threatened to submerge her impressive career. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 4, 1986

Though generally delightful, Grimes' mysteries for Superintendent Richard Jury—Jerusalem Inn, etc.—have sometimes bordered on the arch and over-convoluted, with outsized portions of fey British comedy (as concocted by an American writer). This time, however, the tone is darker, the narration is lean, and the story is a simple one, unfolding obliquely—as Grimes shows that she's a follower of Ruth Rendell as well as Ngaio Marsh. Who strangled ambitious young shopgirl Ivy Childess on a street near Berkeley Square one night? The obvious suspect (despite alibis) is Ivy's upscale gentle. man-friend David Marr, an aging ne'er-do-well from a fine old Sussex family. So Jury soon finds himself in the country, getting a close-up view of Mart, his imperious sister Marion, and his soulful nephew Edward—all of whom are still mourning the hit-and-run death of Marion's young daughter Phoebe, all of whom are estranged from Marion's husband Hugh. But, even if Marr (or some other family member) killed marriage-hungry upstart Ivy, how is her murder connected to a very similar strangling in Devon? And why do some of the chapters switch to Brighton, where London TV-weathergirl Dolly Sands has come for a rest? The answers become clear in a last-minute rescue finale—one that doesn't fully succeed in generating Rendell-esque tension. Still: an intriguing, appealing, minor-key departure for Grimes and Jury—with only a few small appearances by Melrose Plant, the Superintendent's faintly precious part-time sidekick. Read full book review >
THE DEER LEAP by Martha Grimes
Released: Nov. 6, 1985

Seventh of the stories involving Superintendent Richard Jury, his fine-tuned perceptions ever more sensitive, his sometime aide, ex-aristocrat Melrose Plant, and his cold-plagued Sergeant Wiggins (Jerusalem Inn, etc.). It's through Plant that Jury now finds himself in the tiny village of Ashdown Dean, where a series of odd animal deaths have been followed by those of aged postmistress Una Quick and the pub-owner's strident wife Sally Macbride. Jury quickly realizes that the puzzle's key lies with teenaged, taciturn Carrie Fleet, an amnesiac for five years, brought to the village from London by florid, hard-drinking Baroness Regina de la Notre, whose cool secretary Gillian Kendall seems to return Jury's interest. In London, using a tiny clue and his gorgeous upstairs neighbor, topless dancer Carole-Anne Palutski, Jury tracks down Carrie's past, but it's in Ashdown Dean that the tragic showdown comes. Though sometimes verging on the precious, Grimes' style is full of grace, wit and verve, aided by a host of memorable characters. Solid work from one of the best in the genre. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1985

After the excessive curlicues and fripperies of Jerusalem Inn (1984), Grimes is back in top form again—in a darker-toned case that brings on a new detection-partner for Supt. Richard Jury of Scotland Yard (as astute and gentle as ever) and his unofficial sidekick, ex-aristocrat Melrose Plant. This third sleuth is egocentric, charismatic Brian Macalvie of the Devon police, who's particularly disturbed by a series of killings of youngsters in the area: these new murders, you see, remind Macalvie of the years-ago killing of Rose Mulvanney, whose bloody body was found by younger daughter Tessa (who was made catatonic by the ordeal). Who really killed Rose Mulvanney? Onetime medical student Sam Waterhouse went to prison for the crime—he's just been released—but Macalvie is sure that Waterhouse was innocent. So, joined by Supt. Jury, Macalvie looks for connections to the old crime as he investigates the new ones—finding that both past and present clues lead to Ashcroft: the home of Lady Jessica, a ten-year-old orphaned heiress who lives with her guardian/uncle and an ever-changing series of governesses. And soon, thanks to Grimes' customary panache, the pieces all come together. With memorable characters, both minor and major: vintage Grimes—who this time chills the blood without skipping a beat in her elegant (if still sometimes mannered) narration. Read full book review >
JERUSALEM INN by Martha Grimes
Released: Nov. 7, 1984

Nothing in this new case for Scotland Yard's Supt. Richard Jury (The Dirty Duck, etc.) equals its beginning—when sensitive bachelor Jury accidentally meets unhappy Helen Minton, feels an immediate mutual attraction, but returns in a few days to find her dead by poison. After that, unfortunately, it's business-as-less-than-usual for traditionalist Grimes, whose convolutions and ornamentations are thinner here than in previous outings. Jury, seeking out Helen's painter-cousin (father of the illegitimate son she was trying to trace), arrives at a snowbound country houseparty—where old pal Melrose Plant and old flame Vivien Rivington are guests of critic Charles Sealingham and wan wife Grace. Among the other guests: novelist William MacQuade; stately Lady St. Leger, with orphaned nephew Tommy (undercover pool-table terror at a nearby pub, the Jerusalem Inn); and Charles' not-so-secret mistress, romance-writer Beatrice Sleight—who is found shot dead in the snow, wearing Grace's ermine cloak. And, after intensive sleuthing into several family histories (plus a lot of visits to the pub), Jury discovers the connection to Helen's death. . . with a tenuous motive for the killer. Too many byways, aimless chit-chat, and an unconvincing puzzle: the weakest by far of Grimes' mystery-entertainments—but stylishly written enough, certainly, to please many of her admirers. Read full book review >
THE DIRTY DUCK by Martha Grimes
Released: April 26, 1984

Grimes (The Anodyne Necklace, etc.) continues to extract maximum entertainment value from quiet, handsome Superintendent Richard Jury and his titled, unofficial sidekick Melrose Plant—who this time investigate a series of bloody murders aimed at Honeysuckle Tours, an exclusive US travel-outfit for very rich tourists. The killer strikes at Stratford-on-Avon, where the victims include: dumpy, twittery Gwendolyn Bracegirdle; Amelia Farraday, the flashy, amoral second wife of rich, amiable tourist James Farraday; and Honey Belle, Farraday's step-daughter. The suspects, of course, include the other tour members—from the remainder of the large Farraday clan. . . to Lady Violet Dew (aged, colorful) and toadying niece Cyclamen. . . to brash Harvey Schoenberg, who travels with portable mini-computer and a Christopher Marlowe fixation. And Farraday's miseries are compounded by the disappearance of a young adopted son—plus another murder—before Jury begins to see the light. The plot and solution stretch belief to the near-breaking point here—making this somewhat less satisfactory than Grimes' previous, contrived-yet-controlled puzzles. But fans can count on her customary vivacity, charm, and wit: an imaginative, if somewhat outlandish, diversion. Read full book review >
Released: June 27, 1983

The third outing for that odd-couple sleuthing team: handsome, sensitive Supt. Richard Jury and his aristocratic, unofficial aide Melrose Plant (under-utilized this time). What's the connection between the brutal London-tube-station mugging of young day-tripper Katie O'Brien (from Littlebourne village) and the Littlebourne murder of London typist Cora Binns? That's the nicely complex puzzle here. And the investigation brings other curious questions to the fore. Where is the emerald necklace stolen from the late Lord Kennington? What secret is being guarded by Emily Park, age ten going on 50, who cares for Sir Miles Bodenheim's horses? And what's going on in the dingy neighborhood of Wembly Knotts, where the habitues of the Anodyne Necklace pub play an endless game of Wizards and Warlords? Jury gets to the surprising solution, of course, meeting some endearingly flaky folks along the way. And the result, like The Old Fox Deceiv'd (1982), is great fun in full harmony with first-rate deduction—as Grimes threatens to become the first US-born-and-bred master in the Christie/Marsh/Sayers tradition. Read full book review >
THE OLD FOX DECEIV'D by Martha Grimes
Released: Aug. 18, 1982

Even better than the near-perfect The Man with a Load of Mischief (which wound up with a let-down), Grimes' second case for introspective Inspector Jury of Scotland Yard is immensely welcome—especially since it also brings back Jury's unofficial sidekick, aristocrat Melrose Plant. This time Jury is called in to help solve the murder of Gemma Temple, who's been found dead in bizarre black-and-white costume in the tiny cliff-top village of Rackham. And it soon is revealed (with some agreeable echoes of Josephine Tey's Brat Farrar) that Gemma had been posing as the long-disappeared Dillys March, ward of Sir Titus Crael of The Old House. So Jury must delve into the tangled Crael past—the long-ago death of Sir Titus' wife and son in a car crash, the long-ago drowning of the Crael cook (a supposed suicide)—in conversations with the surviving Craels. . . and with a fetching assortment of locals: the Craels' bitter housekeeper Olive; retired roof-thatcher Percy Blythe; and, above all, twelve-year-old Bertie Makepiece, who (with his dog Arnold) resiliently gets along very nicely despite virtual desertion by his fun-seeking mum. Warmth, humor, and great style—plus, this time, a thoroughly satisfying plot: Grimes has it all firmly under control now—with one of the smoothest, richest Traditional-English mysteries ever to originate on this side of the Atlantic. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1981

Like Liza Cody's Dupe (above), Grimes' mystery debut is a triumph manquÉ—with style, wit, charm, atmosphere. . . and a disappointing plot. Unlike Cody, however, Grimes is working in the grand old English-village style—successfully recalling (without lapsing into parody) the humor of Marsh and Allingham, the red-herring smorgasbord of Christie, and some of the richer textures of Sayers. The village here is Long Piddleton, where two bodies (both belonging to strangers) have just been found in bizarre positions at two different inns. The Scotland Yard man on the case is lonely, quietly appealing Richard Jury. And though three more bodies will surface before Jury connects them all to the village, he's immediately presented with a Christie-ish array of suspicious types: inn-owner Simon Matchett, once accused of murdering his wife; a government official who resigned to avoid a spy scandal; a mystery writer who may be a plagiarist; haunted, lovable poet/heiress Vivian Rivington, whose older step-sister may be up to no good. And much of the comedy (just slightly overdone) comes from Jury's amateur Watson: Melrose Plant, a Peter Wimseyish nobleman/professor who has an impossibly garrulous, mean-minded, interfering aunt. With all these ingredients, plus bucolic details and Jury's affectionate byplay with local children, the narrative moves along delightfully. . . until one begins to realize that Grimes has nothing in particular up her sleeve: the explanations are thoroughly ho-hum. But fans of the Golden Age mystery probably won't feel like complaining; and they'll certainly look forward to Jury's next outing—which could be a classic if it adds a Christie twist to all the other glories here. Read full book review >