RogerBW's Blog

The Old Fox Deceiv'd, Martha Grimes 28 September 2022

1982 mystery, second in the Richard Jury series (cosy-ish mystery). The long-missing younger daughter (who may have been playing a Brat Farrar) turns up stabbed on a foggy winter's night…

It all feels very mechanical at times, not helped by Grimes's continued insistence on writing these English people as though they were Americans. Here's the obscure murder weapon, even though there's no particular reason why the murderer should have used that rather than a normal knife. Here's the most obvious suspect, with the unbreakable alibi. And so on.

Melrose Plant is back, and fortunately his tiresome Aunt Agatha is mostly not. He treats the thing much more as a game than does Jury, which makes for some interesting exchanges on the rare occasions when they meet.

But there's a whole sub-plot with a child abandoned by his mother which feels squeezed in, and everybody in the Big House seems to have been scheming to get their hands on the old man's inheritance (which makes the old man himself seem like a rather foolish sucker for anyone with a hard-luck story), and it ends up smelling of the lamp rather more than it ought. The cogs and levers are very well set up, but I shouldn't be able to see them moving.

Harder work to enjoy than it ought to be, therefore, but I'll try another eventually.

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Previous in series: The Man With a Load of Mischief | Series: Richard Jury

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