RogerBW's Blog

The Man With a Load of Mischief, Martha Grimes 13 November 2021

1981 mystery, first in the Richard Jury series (mostly cosy mystery with police investigator, rather than police procedural). When the second murder happens in the village, the local force calls in Scotland Yard. But several more people will die before it's all resolved.

Grimes is an American writer, and the book is full of Americanisms which might not distract a reader who was more used to them: "a wiseacre of a police surgeon", "a polyethylene sheet" (at least I assume it's an Americanism; it was always "polythene" here in England), a dog called "Mindy", "once you're through dinner", and even someone who "flayed me a skunk this morning". In Northamptonshire. None of this is crucial to the plot, but it's a repeated niggling for my attention while I'm trying to concentrate on the actual story, especially since one of the things I'm alert for as a reasonably experienced mystery reader is people not acting or speaking they way they might be expected to.

Get past that and there's something a bit more interesting, a village murder mystery that's self-aware, but not quite self-aware enough to descend into winking parody. And it's a different sort of double act from the standard: Inspector Jury befriends Melrose Plant, who would be Lord Ardry had he not resigned his title, and rather than the usual situation where one of them has to explain everything to the other, each uses their own skills and reasoning ability to work out parts of what must be going on.

(There's also his annoying busybody aunt, and I found myself at a loss to see why he should be at all polite to her, especially since she has no manners at all. In fact, while all the other characters fall somewhat into stereotype, none of the women manages to be anything other than either pitiable or horrible, sometimes both.)

Definitely a series I'll continue with, though this start has some rough edges. I hope Jury won't make a habit of falling instantly in love with suspects, mind.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1