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The Black Cat (Richard Jury Mysteries)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Martha Grimes is back. Yes, THE Martha Grimes! In her latest Richard Jury mystery, The Black Cat, we find Ms Grimes returning to what she's done best and what made her famous--the clever, witty, and intriguing story lines, giving her characters a chance to carry the story, full force and full stop.

This is Richard Jury's 22nd installment and what a winner this one is. A murder mystery? You bet. And early on Jury finds himself involved in not one but three murders--and are they related? Of course they are, as the reader (and Jury) knows early on. All three deaths of of women of the evening, or rather, professional escorts. What is the connecting link? And, of course, "who done it"? "The Black Cat" becomes "the black cats," as Grimes incorporates Morris, a black cat indeed, and brings back the dog Mungo (from earlier books), which provides a clever--and interesting--sidebar story, although they figure prominently in the case's solution. Grimes also gives us a good lesson in high fashion, from Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin shoes to Yves St. Laurent dresses--yes, these escorts are "high end."

Again, Jury with an admirable cast of old friends and new ones gets to work, putting the pieces (and clues) together. Grimes has left (we hope for good) Jury's "romantic episodes" (please--just get on with solving the crime, Richard, we're not interested in your sex life!) and reverted to earlier venues: exciting literary allusions (they're chockablock full here!), intelligent and worthwhile examples of quality comic relief (Grimes can't and shouldn't forget about Melrose Plant, once again coming to the rescue as a supporting cast member); Grimes leaves out Aunt Agatha (okay!) and doesn't spend much time with the Long Pid group of friends (again, okay). And only a perfunctory reference to Superintendent Racer and the office cat.

Another trademark of Grimes seems to be the precocious 11-year-old girl character (this one never changes, only the name does), which adds a bit of sass. And Jury is still caught up with the "un-solved" case with Harry Johnson, going back a couple of books. "You won't let that go, will you," Harry asks Jury at their favorite wine bar, The Old Wine Shades.

The plotline is plausible and Grimes is in total control, no actual red herrings and no O. Henry or Agatha Christie "surprise" endings, although her conclusions are not always easy to figure out. Reading "The Black Cat" was such a refreshing, enjoyable time--well, done, Ms Grimes!

As readers know, the Jury books are all titled after the names of actual pubs/bars, and it's been a personal delight actually to pay those in London a visit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2011
I've just finished The Black Cat, having read the entire series as a reading Challenge for 2011. I enjoyed this latest book, though maybe it did not quite reach the heights of some of the other entries. Hope this one will not be the last.
The series has always been quirky, interesting and informative; the last few books spending quite a lot of time on subjects like quantum mechanics and (in this one) the novels of Henry James. Many of the characters carry on right through the series and she has a plethora of undeniably cute dogs, cats and children, many of the latter one would really not wish to meet in real life.
The early books had some rather wild British geographical and other bloopers but lately my only gripe, and it applies to this one, is the language. I can take the Americanisms in the narrative, even the ubiquitous and ever jarring 'gotten', but dialogue should be right and she puts some words in the mouths of British people that they would never utter. No Englishman, for one example, would call a car exhaust a 'muffler'.
Minor quibbles aside I thoroughly enjoyed The Black Cat, and the rest of the series.
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on 30 June 2010
In his 22nd appearance of this wonderful series, New Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury is trying to deal with the awful consequences of the auto accident in which the other driver was killed and which left his lover, "the incomparable, commanding, relentless" D.I. Lu Aguilar, hospitalized with devastating injuries as the book opens. [Actually, the accident took place a few weeks prior in time, at the end of the last book in the series, "Dust."] But he has little time to grieve over her fragile condition as he has been called in to assist in the investigation of the murder of a young woman, whose appearance is most notable for her beauty and the obvious costliness of her attire: Yves St. Laurent gown and Jimmy Choo shoes. The murder took place in the village of Chesham, on the grounds of a pub, the eponymous Black Cat. And in fact a plethora of black cats populate the novel. [Well, if three can be called a plethora.] For that matter, the book is filled with various animals bearing whimsical names: a horse named Aggrieved, a goat named Aghast, and a dog named Aggro, among others, and all those black cats.

Jury, who pines for a cigarette frequently through these pages as he has "for the thousandth heartbreaking time in three years," and is described as a "high-ranking detective with the Metropolitan police, but without much feeling for rank, and who'd climbed the ladder without much feeling for the rungs," remains thoroughly endearing, as do his mates, among them the debonair Melrose Plant, Lord Ardrey, if you please; Harry Johnson, nominally his nemesis but with whom he shares a decidedly ambivalent relationship; and Dr. Phyllis Nancy, his good friend-cum-paramour. In addition to all the running characters in the series, the author creates tiny little portraits of incidental characters, bringing them to perfect life. A familiarity with the earlier books in the series will be helpful to the reader, as there are several references to prior events, but is not at all necessary to a thorough enjoyment of the novel.

Other murders occur, but in London, nowhere near Chesham, and the feeling persists that the murders are both connected and not connected. It takes the persistence and brainpower of both the human and non-human characters to figure out just what that means, taking the reader swiftly to the unexpected ending. The book is, at the very least, a tutorial in designer footwear, filled with delightful humor and charming prose, and is recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I'm late to Martha Grimes' Richard Jury series; this is the first one I've read. I love British crime novels, and this one is a rather nice combination of police procedural and "cozy". Jury, a superintendent with the London Metropolitan police, is called in to help out with a murder committed in a small village outside London. A woman's body is found with no identification, murdered in the parking lot of a local pub called, "The Black Cat". But the pub is not the only "black cat" in the story. Three others pop up during the story, as well as a couple of dogs. Grimes writes some of the story in the animals' voices, which I liked but other reviewers seem not to.

Three women, all beautiful "escorts" and favoring really, really expensive shoes, turn up dead in the story. Jury eventually figures out the murderer but not without help from old friends, and one "enemy", Harry Johnson. Evidently, Johnson has figured in to previous Jury stories, as have the old friends. With any on-going series, jumping-in in the middle is slightly daunting to the new reader, but Grimes has a good way of identifying who's who.

It's a good read and I'll look for other, earlier Jury novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2011
Having read all of the previous Richard Jury novels, I was looking forward to this latest offering, only to be disappointed. With a number of chapters dedicated to conversations between a dog and a cat and barely a mention of Long Piddleton, this book did not offer the usual 'comfort' that one expects from a Richard Jury novel. Lets hope normal standards are resumed soon.
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on 7 February 2014
Richard Jury books are always a delight, and The Black Cat is a stand-out in the series. The characters are so well drawn, the humour lovely and the plot delightful with several intriguing twists. You will find yourself wanting to read all the Richard Jury series, and wanting to adopt the dog and Black Cat in this engaging book.
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on 4 April 2013
I wish Martha Grimes would write more of these novels. They now come out at such long intervals but each time I read a new Richard Jury book I am engrossed in past novels and characters and involved in the present novel. Great continuity and time setting. Wonderful plots. Involving and amusing.
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on 17 May 2015
I am always amazed at M.Grime's exceptional way she manages to capture such Englishness. Having said that, however, I found her later books tend to have lost that English innocence-ness and have become to blasé.
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on 13 September 2014
Richard Jury is a wit. Love these books. They dragged Harry back into this one together with Mungo doing a good job of trying to sort the two cats at Harrys house and poor put upon Melrose.
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on 20 January 2014
I ordered this book for a neighbour who has all her other books in this series. She was delighted to receive this latest one.
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