In a rainy ditch in a Devon wood, a hitchhiker is found dead. Almost a year later, on another rainy night, another murder; this time, however, the victim is found just outside a pub called I Am the Only Running Footman, near Berkeley Square in London’s fashionable Mayfair District. Devon policeman Brian Macalvie is convinced that the two murders are connected. And thus, in his eighth case, Richard Jury is drawn into the so-called Porphyria killings. A particularly elusive pair of murders. From the streets of London to the village of Somers Abbas, Jury and Macalvie are joined by the stolid if hypochondriac Sergeant Wiggins and the reluctant Melrose Plant. They meet in another pub, the Mortal Man, and, amidst the clatter and cry of the Warboys family, they ponder a labyrinthine set of clues.
©2013 Martha Grimes (P)2013 Simon & Schuster
Love fiction--classic to light, serious to comedic. Selective non-fiction. These days lots of mysteries (not too violent, please :-)
Martha Grimes again takes us into the world of Richard Jury, Scotland Yard inspector, and his friend, Melrose Plant (who gave up his titled position to become an ordinary citizen--much to the frustration of his social climbing Aunt Agatha). This time, the story concerns the murder of a woman strangled by her own scarf , committed near a pub in fashionable Mayfair--"I Am The Only Running Footman". Very quickly, Brian Macalvie, head of the Devon Constabulary, connects this murder with a previous similar one committed in Devon. Thus they begin working together to solve the murders, aided by Jury's adorably hypochondriacal Sgt Wiggins (who, in addition to bringing in a comic element, is also rather smart). Plant is an unofficial excellent crime solver, so he is always quietly in on the background of the investigations.
These books are probably more fully interesting if the reader has read the series in order--to have a deeper sense of the connections among the people who are the regular friends and co-workers of Jury and Plant, and understand their longtime connections to each other. But each also stands alone rather well. The good parts about this book are that it moves forward in ways that make sense, as far as deciding upon suspects, and the reader knows pretty much what they know. And also, the chemistry among the usual cast of Long Piddleton/London folks is, as always, the part that keeps these from being just unremarkable little mysteries. Jury's friends in London are more featured this book and they entertain as always. However Plant is staying in another pub, "The Mortal Man," which also leads to some comic relief.
The difficulty with this book is that the author has brought in the usual folks, and also a few other characters who are not regulars in her books, in ways that lead the reader to believe a few of the latter play an important role in the whole thing--only to have them left hanging at the end (no pun intended, since this is a mystery :-) But she really does not tie things up terribly well--and one wonders what the purpose of certain characters was--except to pad out the story and make it the requisite 220 pages? That observation is strengthened by a sudden and rather weak ending. Steve West's narration is good, but the part he reads best is the delightfully funny Sgt. Wiggins. In the end, it is hard to be upset, since as always, Grimes writes consistently good mysteries that are fun to read or listen to.
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