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Grimes pulls through in the final furlong!
on 16 January 2003
As much as anything else, "The Grave Maurice" answers the question so loudly issued in
"The Blue Last," the previous Richard Jury mystery. In that exciting and well-written episode, the
final pages closed with a bang and the readers could only wonder: will our hero survive? And now
we know, thankfully--and with really not much of a surprise--that Superintendent Jury does live and
he's on to No. l8 in Grimes' immensely popular police procedural mystery series. He's still in
hospital, but a mystery opens up to him (as Grimes says, ala Josephine Tey and "The Daughter of
Time") and he sets out to solve it, bandages, headache, scars, and all.
A 15-year-old daughter of his physician has been missing for two years and presumed dead.
Of course, the doctor and the family have not given up hope and this is where Jury, ably assisted by
Melrose Plant and the Long Pid gang, comes in. Taking all the known facts, they begin to splice,
glue, cut, and paste the parts extraordinaire into a viable, working case. The girl, Nell Ryder, was
abducted, along with a famous race horse she was attending. No clues and no ransom note either.
The scenario is intrigue for his soul (and mind) and Jury, with his Dr. Watson (Melrose) wanders
into the very lucrative business of horse racing and breeding. He is mesmerized by the personality
of Nell, who was described by one of the trainers as "a filly dressed up in a girl costume," so
complete was her love for horses. As the local police have virtually given up on the case (after all,
there were no active clues for past two years!), it appears that the effort would be futile; yet, as Jury
acknowledges, there are a few elements that don't add up.
And, of course, Grimes, through the efforts of Jury, Plant, et al., races on, heading for the
final furlong and then, finally, at breakneck speed. With the author's usual style, grace, and
timing, the book is more than a photo finish--it's a clear winner, another "winners circle"
appearance for Grimes. That said, however, "The Grave Maurice" is clearly intended for the
legions of Grimes fans. Without having read previous Jury books, treaders will quickly find
themselves somewhat confused over references to previous episodes. Grimes must know this, of
course, but this book is not a "dead cert." New readers will not find it so captivating and they can
only be urged to start at the beginning ("The Man with a Load of Mischief" and "The Old Fox
Deceived" and the best of the early Grimes "Jerusalem Inn"). Small price to pay, of course, as
Grimes is quite an odyssey--if nothing else just to see which actual pub she uses as the title of each of
these books!) "The Grave Maurice" may not be win-show-or-place, but it goes the full length. Tally