THE OLD SUCCESS by Martha Grimes


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Superintendent Richard Jury’s 25th case is less a star turn than a team effort for a trio of detectives and their deep bench of helpers and hangers-on.

A pair of young sisters out walking the beach of Bryher, the smallest inhabited Isle of Scilly off the Cornish coast, find the body of a woman who’s been shot to death. Since Bryher is accessible only by ferry, it stands to reason that whoever killed Manon Vinet is still on the island. That’s hard for the close-knit native community to accept. What makes the case even harder for Divisional Commander Brian Macalvie, called in from Exeter to head the investigation, is that the victim’s most prominent link to the outside world—the fact that she once nursed the late Gerald Summerston—links her to still more violence when Summerston’s niece, Flora Flood, is arrested for fatally shooting her estranged husband, Tony Servino. Flora denies the charges, but her account—Tony threatened her because he was enraged at being served with divorce papers after a two-year separation; she only shot at his feet; an intruder entering at just that moment fired the fatal bullet from a gun of the same caliber—seems calculated to inspire skepticism from even her next-door neighbor Jury’s old friend Melrose Plant. While Jury and Sir Thomas Brownell, a legendary detective retired from Scotland Yard, are still trying to figure out whether the two murders are connected, their attention is claimed by a third: the shooting of former Summerston maid Moira Quinn in Exeter Cathedral, right on Macalvie’s home turf. The ensuing rounds of inquiry and cross-checking would tax most novelists and their detectives to the limit, but Grimes (The Knowledge, 2018, etc.) keeps dropping unexpected complications, newly minted characters, and familiar faces into a mix that becomes so head-spinning that most readers are likely to greet the denouement with a combination of surprise and relief.

Plotted and peopled with unstinting generosity, even if the regulars are never quite as amusing as the author thinks.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-8021-4740-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2019


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