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The Five Bells and Bladebone [Paperback]

Martha Grimes
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

26 Jan 1989
When Melrose Plant finds the body of faithless, greedy Simon Lean, there's no shortage of suspects. Richard Jury's enquiries stir up a hornet's nest in the stately home where Simon met his end. With another murder in London's Docklands, the killer always seems to be one step ahead of Jury.


Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing; New edition edition (26 Jan 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747231699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747231691
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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What else could you think of but getting your throat slit? Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Of all the Richard Jury-featured novels, I think that "The Five Bells and Bladebone" if by far my favorite.
How can one resist such an opening when Martha Grimes launches us into her ninth Jury episode with this sentence: "What else could you think of but getting your throat slit?"
Grimes' penchant for landscape and atmosphere holds true in this book. "It was a twenty minute walk from the flat in Limehouse to the Town of Ramsgate, and she was irritated that they'd decided on what he called a 'dress rehearsal....hadn't they been over it and over it? And she didn't dare tell him that Tommy was coming in tomorrow night. He'd have killed her."
Is this the quintessential narrative hook or not? And Grimes doesn't let up until the final pages.
Marshall Trueblood (one of Grimes' recurring characters and resident antiques dealer in Long Pidd) discovers a dismembered corpse in an antique desk. Superintendent Jury soon establishes a connection between this death and the murder of a Limehouse lady named Sadie Driver. With his faithful Sergeant Wiggins, Jury begins to do what he is best known for: solving crimes. And no Jury book would be complete without close friend Melrose Plant, the aristocratic and (de)titled Peer, whose insight, connections, wealth, good wit (he does the London Times crossword in record time, whether the answers are correct or not!), and his Aunt Agatha, is of immense aid to Jury. American writer Grimes titles her Jury books with names of actual pubs. If you track this one down (there's a good map in the book), be careful! It really is in a section of London that should make you think twice before going--I chose noon on a Sunday and STILL was intimidated, getting my pint, quickly swallowed, and OUT of there!
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and Unusual 16 April 2002
By Gary F. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Antique dealer Marshall Trueblood is delighted when he coaxes Lady Sommerston into selling her secretaire a abattant--at least until it arrives at his shop and vents forth the severed head of a man with more enemies than even Superintendant Jury of Scotland Yard can count. And the ensuing investigation proves problematic in more ways than one.
As usual, Martha Grimes writes beautifully, presenting us with a host of likely and unlikely suspects ranging from an eccentric romance novelist to a near-hysterical book dealer to a woman who greatly enjoys her dubious reputation--and considerable humor in the form of Aunt Agatha, a plaster pig, a bicycle, and chamber pots. But fascinating as her prose is, the sheer complexity of her story seems to run away with her in this particular novel, which piles character upon character and event upon event in a truly dizzying sort way.
Perhaps more to the point, this particular work deals with the thematic thread of to what degree we actually know people as individuals, the plot relies heavily upon coincidence, and Grimes juggles a great many balls to conceal the killer's hand. Whether or not readers feel these balls all fetch up together in logical order is a matter of opinion; clearly some consider this one of her most spectacular finishes while others find it frustratingly vague. For myself, I found the novel requires more concentration than one expects of a murder mystery, and while I thought the device was very clever I felt the conclusion lacked drama and consequently doesn't entirely come off. While I do recommend the novel to long-time Martha Grimes fans, I would hesitate to recommend it to newcomers, who might find BLADEBONE's deliberate ambiguity a bit off-putting.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bells toll for thee in this Grimes thriller! 8 May 2000
By Billy J. Hobbs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Of all the Richard Jury-featured novels, I think that "The Five Bells and Bladebone" if by far my favorite.
How can one resist such an opening when Martha Grimes launches us into her ninth Jury episode with this sentence: "What else could you think of but getting your throat slit?"
Grimes' penchant for landscape and atmosphere holds true in this book. "It was a twenty minute walk from the flat in Limehouse to the Town of Ramsgate, and she was irritated that they'd decided on what he called a `dress rehearsal....hadn't they been over it and over it? And she didn't dare tell him that Tommy was coming in tomorrow night. He'd have killed her."
Is this the quintessential narrative hook or not? And Grimes doesn't let up until the final pages.
Marshall Trueblood (one of Grimes' recurring characters and resident antiques dealer in Long Pidd) discovers a dismembered corpse in an antique desk. Superintendent Jury soon establishes a connection between this death and the murder of a Limehouse lady named Sadie Driver. With his faithful Sergeant Wiggins, Jury begins to do what he is best known for: solving crimes. And no Jury book would be complete without close friend Melrose Plant, the aristocratic and (de)titled Peer, whose insight, connections, wealth, good wit (he does the London Times crossword in record time, whether the answers are correct or not!), and his Aunt Agatha, is of immense aid to Jury. Grimes titles her Jury books with names of actual pubs. If you track this one down (there's a good map in the book), be careful! It really is in a section of London that should make you think twice before going--I chose noon on a Sunday and STILL was intimidated, getting my pint, quickly swallowed, and OUT of there! (Actually, it is an unassuming pub with lots of character--it's just that the locals NEVER cotton to outsiders, especially foreigners! But the ale was good! Grimes told me last October, however, that the pub had actually undergone some renovation!)
Regardless, for the many fans of Grimes/Jury, "The Five Bells and the Bladebone" is not one to miss. It's my cup of tea (or pint of ale!).
Billyjhobbs@tyler.net
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The most confusing of all M. Grimes books. 20 Nov 1997
By Elizabeth Bridgham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am an avid M. Grimes reader but The Five Bells and Bladebone has me stumped. I cannot figure out who was who as far as the murderer and the two women are concerned. Very unclear ending for readers.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Was she, or wasn't she? 21 Mar 2013
By hrladyship - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Five Bells and Bladebone, a mystery by Martha Grimes, named again after an actual London pub, is not a place for the unwary to mess about. But for Superintendent Richard Jury, it is one of the places he must go in order to solve the current murder. Or murders, actually. To the reader they don't seem connected at first, which adds a mystery to the reader: "How in the world will Grimes connect these up?" This tale has a hint of Sherlock Holmes, what with foggy Thames-side and a mixture of common folk, rich folk, and kept women. It stretches from a village called Long Piddleton to London.

Matters unfold, often in obscure ways, and discerning who is who and who went where is not readily clear. The interesting part is going along for the ride as Jury goes from one clue to another, with nothing fitting together very well. Some of the usual characters add to the enjoyment of the story - Melrose Plant and his long-suffering aunt, and the also long-suffering Wiggins. There are some coincidences along the way that help and a few that muddy the waters.

In the end, even Jury isn't certain that he's solved the case, even though he has most of the facts. Getting to the end is worth the journey for the reader, even if everything remains a bit fuzzy.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IT'S THE PIG'S FAULT 6 April 2003
By Loren D. Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Martha Grimes writes a darned good mystery, but then again, so do a lot of other folks. So why do I keep coming back to her books when there are so many other good mysteries out there begging to be read? Well, let me try to figure it out. There's Richard Jury of New Scotland Yard and his friend, and unofficial fellow mystery solver, Melrose Plant, the former Earl of Caverness (former because he has renounced the title just because he doesn't want it). Together, they make a pretty good crime solving duo. But then again, so do Holmes and Watson, or Batman and Robin, or even Nick andf Nora of "Thin Man" fame, but it's to Jury and Plant that I keep returning. Why? The truth is that Ms. Grimes has surrounded them with some of the most colorful characters in modern mystery fiction.
Before I discuss a few of my favorites, I'd better reveal a bit of the plot of THE FIVE BELLS AND BLADEBONE. To start with, a piece of antique furniture in the town of Long Piddleton, home to Melrose Plant and many of the other "regulars," is found to contain a dismembered body. Elsewhere, the body of a murdered London woman is discovered. Although it is not evident, Richard Jury believes that there is some sort of connection between these seemingly unrelated murders. He takes it upon himself to determine whether or not these murders are related to one another, and to find out who committed the murders. Obviously, this is a simplified description of the plot.
Before going on to my real reasons for loving Martha Grimes' novels, I do have to tell you that Richard Jury and Melrose Plant are real, lively, and interesting characters who are worth reading about on their own. They have distinct personalities, problems, etc., and it is rewarding to get to know them.
For starters, there's Jury's official aide, Detective Sergeant Wiggins. Wiggins is a walking pharmacy. He knows, as surely as he knows that sea air is poisonous, that he is going to fall seriously ill in the next minute. Any air he breathes is fraught with murderous bacteria and virus. He breaks out if it's dry and wheezes if it's damp. He sneezes if it's spring and coughs if it's fall, but never fear, he has pills and potions, nostrums and salves, inhalants and something called "fishermen's friends" in one pocket or another. He takes them all, too. In spite of his hypochondria, he is an outstanding policeman with an analytic mind and an ability to take unimpeachable notes.
Then, in Long Piddleton, there's Melrose's friend, Marshall Trueblood, antique dealer and a frequent partner in Melrose's pranks. Marshall dresses with a flair, in pinks and purples and mauves, in the finest silks and satins, and is rarely without a colorful scarf to set off his sartorial elegance. These clothes are the products of the finest (read expensive) tailors and designers that London has to offer. In this book, when an antique secretaire a abbant (desk to us commoners) he has purchased turns out to contain a dismembered body in it, his reaction is, "I bought the desk, not the body, send it back."
It's difficult to describe Jury's Scotland Yard supervisor, Chief Superintendent Racer, without resorting to a description that combines the word pompous with a word that describes the south end of a mule who is facing north. For reasons unknown, he has always had it in for Jury, but, in his heart of hearts, he knows that it is only Jury's amazing successes in solving difficult crimes that he, Racer, who is a total incompetent, has managed to keep his prestigious position. There is also, Cyris the cat, the bane of Racer's existence. Cyris is Racer's intellectual superior and lives only for the opportunity to torment and outwit Racer. That Cyril survives whatever trap Racer sets for him is testament to their relative intellects.
As is always the case in Martha Grimes' mysteries, there are too many more wonderful characters to begin to even list them all in a review of this length, much less to really do them justice, but I would be remiss if I didn't discuss Melrose's Aunt Agatha. She is everyone's nightmare in-law. She is utterly without redeeming qualities.
And what sort of mischief is Aunt Agatha up to in this book? Ah, she's at her best. She is suing Jurvis the butcher for "serious injuries" to her leg, ankle, or foot (she occasionally forgets which) resulting from an accident caused by a plaster pig that has stood in front of Jurvis' butcher shop for many years. The pig, she claims, somehow caused her to lose control of her car, an old junkheap, and to run up on the sidewalk, hitting both the pig and a parked bicycle. This pig caused accident resulted in serious pain and suffering. She can't exactly explain how the pig caused the accident, but there's no doubt that it was the pig's fault, just ask her, and Aunt Agatha is just the person to see to it that justice is served and that she will be adequately compensated for her injuries by way of a lawsuit. Wonder how this case comes out when tried by a dozing local magistrate? Well, I'm not going to spoil your fun by providing you with this information. You'll just have to find out for yourself.
And, oh yeah, there's a murder to be solved too. After all, this is a mystery novel. You're just going to have to do some reading on your own to find out who dunnit.
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