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VINE VOICEon 25 October 2004
Martha Grimes' eagerly awaited new Richard Jury mystery is another in a long line of police procedurals worth the wait.
In "Winds of Change," Grimes' characters get involved in pedophilia, child kidnapping, and, quite literally, a garden maze of labyrinthine proportions. Grimes' regular characters once again prop up the plot as Jury sets out to solve the case, the 19th in her incredibly popular series.
Granted, the sheer weight of the subject matter is cause for a dark, uneasy feeling with readers. Grimes seems intent on this atmosphere and succeed she does. Grimes has always had a soft spot for precocious children and the relationships she shows with them and Jury and Melrose Plant are always welcomed.
Besides getting the case taken care of, Grimes' social statements are hard to ignore, one of the characteristics of a good book, I should think. Jury is Jury, but Grimes spends more time in "Winds of Change" getting inside the psyche of him, which is not a bad thing, although noticeably she seems to drift away from much of her regular characters. And perhaps new readers may find some of the references and allusions to earlier books a bit confusing.
But Jury is Jury! He's worth the examination. So's the book.
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This recent Inspector Jury novel by Martha Grimes will have readers in two categories, those who know the series already and newcomers to it like myself. I find that I take to the style, and I suppose the best commendation I can offer is that this story has interested me enough to go back to the start of the series and get to know Jury and his associates. The author does not do much to introduce them to first-time readers by this stage of the game, the cast of new characters is quite large and I was constantly having to flip back a few pages to remind myself who was who, and Grimes shows awareness of this matter on p217 with a quiet and wryly humorous reference to the 87th Precinct series in which readers are likely experience the same problem.

Ms Grimes is apparently American, and her command of the idiom of British crime-writing is impressive. Slip-ups are few and minor. In Britain we write `ploughed' and not `plowed', we do not refer to a cell-phone but to a mobile, and it should hardly even have needed a glance at a map to tell one of her characters that Kirkcudbright (so spelt) is unsurprisingly in Kirkcudbrightshire and not in Dumfriesshire. The style of crime novels and TV detective series in Britain has come on a bit since the palmy days of Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey. I could not imagine Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and the rest of them going anywhere near the topic of paederasty that features strongly in The Winds of Change - even Chandler would never have touched such a theme - but I recall it from the TV series A Touch of Frost. Detective inspectors with cultivated tastes are also now familiar from Inspector Morse, Jury and his friends give a good deal of prominence to Henry James, and I will be surprised if both of these series have not influenced Ms Grimes to some extent. Influences are perfectly legitimate and to be expected, but Grimes has the first quality that I look for in any novelist, namely a distinctive tone of her own. This is rather understated, in what is sometimes thought to be a particularly British way. Two people are found murdered near the beginning of this story, but the scenes are described with detachment. Indeed even the more sordid aspects to the narrative are treated with that, and this way of doing it is definitely to my own liking.

There is not a lot of `action' in the ordinary sense (shooting and whatnot) until near the end. The main focus is on the detectives as people, and they spend most of their time talking, and not talking exclusively about their investigations. The actual plot-line is not, I must say, my idea of the strongest I ever came across. It depends heavily on not one case but two of mistaken or unperceived identity which seemed to me approximately as convincing as those in Cosi Fan Tutte or Twelfth Night. However I finished the book with a reasonably strong idea of the more important identities of Jury, Cody and the others who are presumably delineated clearly for beginners in the earlier novels. To that extent, Ms Grimes has got herself one genuinely interested new reader who is likely to pursue his new interest, and I don't suppose I can say fairer than that.
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on 19 April 2012
A long time ago Martha Grimes could write really good Richard Jury novels but that day appears to be long past. This series is becoming very stale indeed. I loved books such as The End of the Pier and The Dirty Duck. I wish Martha Grimes would read her early novels to see what she could achieve if she really tried. I read another of the series 'Dust' and it was rather boring. Also, I wish this author would remember that this is a British detective, not an American one as more and more Americanisms are creeping in to her books. Why should a British detective be thinking of an American poet? This series no longer works.
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on 15 March 2013
Thoroughly enjoyed reading have bought three by Martha Grimes recommended to me by a lady aged 89 yrs young ....She had them all years gone by. I look forward to my next one ....
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on 19 May 2015
An exciting story, up to the usual high standard of this series; the book arrived by the due date and in good condition.
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on 1 February 2014
Like Martha Grimes as a writer so no hardship buying this. An easy read with a clever twist. Happy with purchase.
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on 13 September 2014
Love this author. Enjoyed so far all the Richard Jury books.
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on 24 July 2015
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