on 31 October 1999
I broke my own rules on how to choose a book when I chose this: I was attracted by the title. It had childhood connections, and I decided to try an author I hadn't read before. What a mistake! Having just finished Wilkie Collins' "The Moonstone", I was perhaps not in a sympathetic mood for poor writing, but this seemed so crass that I just had to warn other unwary readers to steer clear of this book. The opening chapter decribes the victim of a murder: she's not pretty, not slim, not bright and not wealthy. Therefore she's expendable. Look out any plump, plain, poor girls! Martha Grimes will make you a murder victim! Martha apparently visits Britain to research material for her books set in Britiain. I wonder who she speaks to? I'm sure she has never spoken to anyone who has been connected with farming in the recent past. She makes one of her detectives refer to the advent of tractors on farms as a new phenomenon! I'm 44 and was brought up in a farming family: I've never seen horses in serious use on fields in East Anglia ( just south of Lincolnshire, where the book is set.) Just a few pages on, a supposedly wealthy woman who employs household staff, and whose husband collects antiques, refers to coins being needed for the launderette because their washing machine is on the blink! Maybe this is meant to be a joke? Sorry but I just couldn't finish the book: I have too much respect for my own intelligence! It's in the next charity book stall box: it will raise 20p for my favourite cause: Friends of the Library. But don't tell anyone that I put it in!
on 10 March 1999
I read this book because I had just been to Spalding, near where it takes place, and the problem might be that I have never read a "Jury" before, but I felt like I was coming in partway through a play. Too many references to past cases with no explanation, no physical description of Jury, and very little characterization of him - being used to Christie, March et al. it seemed a bit thin, character-wise. Also plot and dialogue seemed to jump around a bit too much - it was a fun mystery but left me feeling unsatisfied.