THE MAN WITH A LOAD OF MISCHIEF by Martha Grimes

THE MAN WITH A LOAD OF MISCHIEF

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KIRKUS REVIEW

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.
Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
ISBN: 0451410815
Page count: 292pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1981




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