Top positive review
15 people found this helpful
Jury Discovers Passion, a Delicious Plot, a Literary Journey for Melrose Plant, and More Wine with Harry Johnson
on 12 February 2007
Martha Grimes packed enough material into this book to make at least six normal detective novels. Pay close attention . . . the detail all counts.
If you want Ms. Grimes to write more books that remind you of The Dirty Duck, I suggest you go back and re-read the first 19 books in the series. She's clearly decided to take her hero and her series in new directions.
There's good news and bad about that. The good news is that the stories now open themselves up in new ways. The bad news is that many readers won't car for the new ways.
It's hard to write about this book without including a spoiler accidentally. Any description is also bound to be very misleading in terms of what the book is about. I'll do my best.
As the book opens, young Benny Keegan finds himself unexpectedly delivering room service coffee for two in the restaurant with rooms, Zetter's, where he works. When no one answers, Benny pushes the door open and discovers the dead body of a man who has obviously been killed. Concerned about his vulnerability as a homeless child to a murder investigation, Benny calls Richard Jury at home. Jury brings a doctor with him and quickly inserts himself into the investigation, hoping to shelter Benny from any fall out. Things are going along normally until Jury meets Lu Aguilar, who will be running the investigation for the local police. As an investigatory team, they are most unusual in the history of detective fiction.
Jury knows the victim's grandfather and makes some of the most delicate contacts. But as Jury delves into the past, he finds much to be surprised about in the present. Why does a wealthy young man, Billy Maples, of no particular interests sprinkle gifts on artists who show little potential? Why does the same young man choose to live in Lamb's House, where Henry James wrote such masterpieces? No one claims to dislike the victim, and there's no will. The heirs are already quite wealthy. Who benefits?
Casting his net ever wider, Jury looks deeply into the pasts of all those who knew the victim and finds all kinds of unexpected connections. In terms of solving the mystery, Jury is at a loss until he receives some unexpected information near the end of the story. But it's clear that Harry Johnson sees it as an open-and-shut case (if you remember him from The Old Wine Shades).
What's the book's weakness? Some will say it's the character development. That part worked all right for me. Others will be annoyed with the unusual number of red herrings. I didn't mind those either. I found that the story contained unnecessary elements that seemed to be there mostly to appease long-term fans. Cut to the chase, Ms. Grimes.
I liked all of the surprises in the story. They whet my appetite for deeper and more appealing mysteries in the future involving Richard Jury. Clearly, Ms. Grimes is going to be taking us to new, and more interesting, places in the future. I'm looking forward to the journey!