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.
Quintessential Grimes, with a rich canvas and suspicion bouncing from one quirky character to another like a pumped-up pinball.