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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review: The Black Cat by Martha Grimes


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I apologize, I somehow managed to publish this post when it was still being worked on.  I am so sorry.  I will try to not let that happen again.  I must have been going too fast and clicked on the wrong button.  Whoops!

Author: Martha Grimes
Copyright: April 6, 2010 (Viking); 323 pgs.

Series: #22 in Richard Jury Mystery  
Sensuality: N/A
Mystery sub-genre: Police Procedural

Main Character: Richard Jury, Scotland Yard Superintendant
Setting: England
Obtained book through:  Publisher, in exchange for an honest review

This book was released Tuesday April 6th.  The body of an unidentified extremely fashionably and expensively dressed young woman is found behind a pub, The Black Cat, in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. Jury is called from London to investigate. Not only is this Jane Doe killed but the pub's resident black cat is suddenly missing.  Jury discovers the woman led a double life: local plain-Jane librarian by day and high paid London escort on the weekends.  Quickly the bodies of more "escorts" are found, all of them wearing expensive clothes and particularly expensive designer shoes.  The shoes become an integral part to the puzzle.

Ms. Grimes apparently likes to feature real British pubs in her books, and this one features The Black Cat Pub prominently.  There are some threads from prior books that continue in this installment.  I had not read any prior books in the series and I was able to pick up on the story line easily enough.  Jury has an "arch nemesis" who he is still trying to get evidence of his criminal activities to put him behind bars.  Then there is the side plot of Jury’s lover, Detective Lu Aguilar, is suffering from a bad car accident and Jury is working through his feelings regarding the whole situation. 

Jury apparently turns often to a gent named Melrose Plant, sort of his sidekick, to assist him.  Melrose is reminiscent of a by-gone England where the pace is decidely slower and is resistant to change on any level really.  Oh, and Jury is a bit of a surprise and a mystery, such as how he comes across as sensitive to people's plights or doesn't lock his apartment door even after all the crime he has seen.  I like the details Ms. Grimes gives him, like how his phone's ring tone is "Three Blind Mice."
Like bandages coming off a patient's eyes, sighted or blind; or unwound from a burn victim's ruined face, Edna Cox's defensive covering unwould more and more.  Jury felt very sorry for her.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

They took both cars, and Melrose insisted that Jury follow him.

"Why?"

"In case my car breaks down."

"Your car is a Rolls-Royce.  My car is a Vauxhall of questionable provenance with a million miles clocked."

"Now, which car is more likely to break down?"
"Mine."  Melrose turned on the engine.  It thrummed like Yo-Yo Ma's cello.

"Oh, my, yes.  The rattle and clang's enough to deafen you."

"I'll wait for you," called Melrose to Jury's departing back.  And again: "Don't forget we're stopping if we see a Little Chef."
There is a fansiful side to this tale.  The cat-napped Morris gets a few sections where she gets assistance from a dog in her desire to get back to her pub.  These are diversions or little side-trips and they will keep you guessing how the cat-napping is involved with the murders.  Another touch of light-heartedness is Jury's neighbor who walks in a makes herself at home, answers his phone for him leaving him cryptic messages. 

The investigation began to run long without any headway seeming to be made. The resolution and wrap-up were a bit sudden, as if everything just clicked into place in Jury's mind. As for the resolution of the murder, I had only part of the "who" right and even at that I didn't have the motive worked out.  Overall an enjoyable police procedural.  If you enjoy British mysteries you will probably enjoy this meandering story.

I will be having an author interview and book giveaway shortly so stay tuned.

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

Here are two video clips of the author discussing some of the aspects of the book.  I thought you might like the author's take on her book.




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2 comments:

The Book Mole said...

Thanks for this post - I enjoy reading Martha Grimes very much. Melrose Plant is my favorite character. I really look forward to the interview with Grimes and the giveaway as well - this is the only Jury I haven't read!

Kris said...
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