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The Old Wine Shades (Richard Jury Mysteries) Paperback – 6 Mar 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Book; Reprint edition (6 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451220722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451220721
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.3 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 427,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Harry Johnson lit another cigarette, flipped his lighter shut and said, You're not convinced, I can see. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on 27 Feb. 2006
Format: Hardcover
In “The Old Wine Shades,” Martha Grimes’ latest--and 21st Richard Jury mystery--is an attention-grabber from the first sentence. Grimes, after seemingly going through a rough patch in the last number or so of Jury stories, is back on track with another fast-paced, mesmerizing story, a labyrinthine reading adventure that’s well worth the read.
“A man walked into a pub,” or so the joke goes. And Grimes grabs this narrative hook and off to the races she goes. Jury, on a semi-suspension pending the outcome of an inquiry over the illegal search of a crime scene in the previous book (“The Winds of Change”), seems to have time on his hands. Sitting in a favorite local pub (Grimes’ Jury books are all names of actual pubs) called The Old Wine Shades, Jury is approached by a well-dressed, highly intelligent, and most personable gentleman, a physicist who’s into more physics than the average reader is likely to know, who begins telling Jury the story of the disappearance of the wife of a fellow physicist, her autistic son, and their dog Mungo. Over three evenings (and lots of vintage wine), Harry Johnson tells this compelling--and mystifying tale. It’s been nice months since the disappearance: no ransom demand, no post cards, no body. (No body? Asks Carole-anne, Jury’s neighbor friend form previous Grimes stories. “A body will turn up. A body always does,” she says.) The story is so compelling that Jury can’t keep it out of his mind.
The story, as Jury says, is actually a frame story, or a story within a story within a story….
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. E. Cantrell on 17 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
Let me start by quoting an Amazon US reviewer who wrote in March 2006: "In every crime novelist, there must lurk moments of passion when the writer wants to be taken more seriously. Having seen how critics often fall all over themselves when novelists employ devices like building their stories around ideas from philosophy and quantum physics, the novelist must think, 'I can do that, too!'"

This same reviewer further suggests that Grimes has adopted the expansive, scholarly and perhaps too self-consciously literary style of Umberto Eco.

Perhaps, perhaps.

Another reviewer, also in March, wrote this: "I've read all of the Richard Jury novels and I've always enjoyed how the characters have evolved throughout the series. Unfortunately, Martha Grimes has reached a dead end. There's nothing new with Richard Jury, Melrose Plant, or any of the other characters."

Maybe.

A third March reviewer (a perceptive month, it seems) offered this heartfelt cry: "I will neve[r] again get sucked into buying one of her books. I should have stopped reading them 4 or 5 ago but kept hoping that she'd change."

Too true, alas.

There might be something in the notion that Grimes used Eco's work as a model for her mixture of detection and esoterica. Let me offer another possible model for the structure of her book. Polish author Jan Potocki wrote a book whose title is translated into English as "The Saragossa Manuscript" or sometimes as "The Manuscript found in Saragossa". "Saragossa" is a wild and wooly gaggle of stories told not consecutively but as a series of asides by characters within each narrative, reaching five, six, seven--who knows how many?--levels deep, like a sequence of Russian dolls. Grimes' book, the first half, anyway, is much the same.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Mar. 2006
Format: Hardcover
In every crime novelist, there must lurk moments of passion when the writer wants to be taken more seriously. Having seen how critics often fall all over themselves when novelists employ devices like building their stories around ideas from philosophy and quantum physics, the novelist must think, "I can do that, too!"
Why am I speculating in this way? Well, I cannot think of any other way to introduce The Old Wine Shades to You.
If you are old enough to remember a television series called "The Twilight Zone," you'll realize that this Richard Jury novel is a bit different from those that precede it in this distinguished series when I say the book reminds me of that series.
Richard Jury meets Harry Johnson, a well-dressed man in a wine bar that features the rarest and finest wines. Johnson begins to tell Jury a story. Jury is soon rapt and the conversation continues over dinner and more meetings in The Old Wine Shades and more dinners.
There's been a mysterious disappearance of a woman, her son and a dog. Although it's none of Jury's business, he soon finds himself checking out the story and wondering what's going on. The most puzzling part is that the dog came back. What does that mean?
Ms. Grimes deftly weaves layers of story on top of other layers of stories until it's difficult to keep track of who's telling what story about whom and what. It's masterfully conceived and executed . . . with one small problem from my point of view. Did she really have to add a dog that seems to share traits with some of Stephen King's menageries?
The book is clearly a tour de force for those who enjoy such displays of fictional éclat.
Although I enjoyed the story well enough, I couldn't help but hope that Richard Jury's future novels will move out of The Old Wine Shades into some agreeable pub where Melrose Plant can help move things along.
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