Three months have passed since Richard Jury was left bereft and guilt- ridden after his lover's tragic auto accident, and he is now more wary than ever. He is deeply suspicious when requested on a case far out of his jurisdiction in an outlying village, where a young woman has been murdered behind the local pub. The only witness is the establishment's black cat, who gives neither crook nor clue as to the girl's identity or her killer's.
Identifying the girl becomes tricky when she's recognized as both the shy local librarian and a posh city escort, and Jury must use all his wits and intuition to determine the connection to subsequent escort murders.
Meanwhile, Jury's nemesis, Harry Johnson, continues to goad Jury down a dangerous path. And Johnson, along with the imperturbable dog Mungo, just may be the key to it all.
Written with Martha Grimes' trademark insight and grace, The Black Cat signals the thrilling return of her greatest character. The superintendent is a man possessed of prodigious analytical gifts and charm, yet vulnerable in the most perplexing ways.
©2010 Martha Grimes (P)2010 Penguin
First, this was my first exposure to a Richard Jury mystery and the writer Martha Grimes. She is extremely prolific and has a huge portfolio of works in print. I found the mystery very engaging and complex. Jury is drawn sparsely in this book, there are numerous call-backs to prior books, in particular The Old Wine Shades, that reintroduce characters. I found the flashbacks fair and transparent and did not suffer from not reading this 21 volume series. I feel like the narration was perfect and showed good versatility with the numerous characters. I would very much like to see key books of this series produced and released on Audible. This genre of mystery is often called, "Cozy Mysteries" due to the English pubs, small town feeling and emphasis on a less than high tech modern environment. This novel received marginal reviews in hardback form; but the rating on the audio version are quite good. This, in my opinion, is where an audio book becomes more than the flat page and actually enlivens the experience by creating a momentum of plot.
This is a very skillfully done book by a writer that is meticulous in making sure the clues and characters come forward in good form. Finally, there is a dog, Mungo and his friend, Morris, the cat that have telepathic conversations and play into the plot. They almost steal the show. This is a very entertaining listen.
I don't know what was more unbearable: the conversations between the dog Mungo and the cat Morris, the endless descriptions of designer shoes and dresses (with prices), or the rushed reading by John Lee. After an hour or two I had to quit. Having listened to 15 previous Martha Grimes Richard Jury books, charmingly crafted and beautifully read by
Steve West, I found The Black Cat a huge disappointment.
Not bothered to write this story and not trusted John Lee to read it.
misdirecting. clever and fummy
the pace was easy
the one with the 1 cats in the bar
dealing with the sargent
love jury and his neighvor
I have been a Martha Grimes and Richard Jury fan over 20 years. I was delighted to find a Jury book on Audible and am hopeful that some of her back list will be added. The mysteries and characterization are excellent. The more books you read the more the characters feel like friends or people you have known. Grimes is an intellectual writer with frequent references to history and literature.
The narration was good, and having read every Jury novel prior to this the story was easy to follow. On the story, I would have liked to have seen more of Long Pid and the characters based there, but can wait for the next for that! Harry Johnson is fast becoming a nemesis that I hate, and cannot wait until Jury figures out how to take him down forever, despite his having the creativity and thought to name his cat Schrodinger.
In fairness to this book, let me say that I'm writing this awhile after listening to it. I recall that I didn't care for the story much, that it was too difficult to follow and nearly always not very interesting. I disliked the sections of the book that were told in the cat/dog voice -- it really seemed silly, but I found myself wondering if I was becoming too jaded in my middle age. The narrator, who I believe is the same as in another recording of a book by this same author, is hard to follow at times and somehow irritating. All this being said, I listened to the book till the end -- in fact, I seem to recall that the story picked up in terms of interest and focus as it reached its conclusion. I also hope to never read another book about designer shoes -- a topic in which I have absolutely no interest.
Please get Steve West back to narrate. Part of the appeal of audio books is giving characters a personality. Steve West has brought these characters to life and he is needed to continue.
I've been listening - in order - to the Martha Grimes/Richard Jury mysteries series over the last several weeks.Wow! What a disappointment to discover that books 19,20, and 21 aren't available on Audible. So I skipped to book 22, The Black Cat, and then discovered it was evidently recorded before Steve West began his narration. By this time, and after all the credits spent on this series, switching to another reader is more than confusing - Steve West has become the voice of Richard Jury, Melrose Plant, Aunt Agatha, and so many other characters. Seems to me Audible would do their customers a service by not only nudging along the recording of those missing three books, but by removing the one "sore thumb" in the collection until it too is available with a Steve West reading. So now I'll just drop #22 and move on to #23, Vertigo 42 with the hopes I can fill in the blanks in those characters' lives in the missing books.
Don't know if it was her decision, but a consistency in narrators is important in a series this long.
Steve West. Out of a series of 23 books, with 20 available on Audible, to have ONE book with a different narrator is ridiculous.
Didn't waste much time on the book after discovering the different narrator.
Audible: work harder on providing an ENTIRE series, not just a few books in a series. Or skip offering series of books altogether, - or withhold them until you have the full series.
The story like all others in the series is very good. However, the narrator, John Lee is new and takes some getting used to. His voice is nice and clear but he reads too fast most of the time and mispronounced Plant's manservant's name throughout the book. It should be pronounced "Riven" not the way he says it. This is aggravating because in previous books they continously correct Agatha ' s mis-pronouncing it (Agatha, you have been shriven by Riven.) It makes it seem like Audible is not concerned with the quality of the recordings. I would recommend Audible use the same narrator for the entire series instead of throwing the listener off by switching near the end of the series. I sure I'm not the only one that likes to listen to the entire series straight through. Another problem that is aggravating is that I have bought the entire series that's available on Audible, but the two books prior to "The Black Cat" are referred to but aren't available in audio versions. Amazon needs to make "The Winds of Change (New York: Viking Penguin, 2004) and The Old Wine Shades (New York: Viking Penguin, 2006)" available in audio so the Audible series can be complete. Throughout the series references are made to previous books and it's really disconcerting to have a block of two books missing. Although each book can be read separately, the following books build on the previous stories and it is designed to be read as a continuous story. Amazon does the readers a disservice by skipping the two books.
I have been working my way through all the Grimes/Jury books, and in general, enjoy them enormously. This is despite them being somewhat tediously formulaic--always a child, usually a cat--but delightful and humorous characters. Steve West embodies and embraces this formula, and always does a masterful job with all characters, giving them just the right touch of irony or humor. This book is, again, borne of that formula. But without West narrating, they all sound alike and the humor and irony seem to fall short of the mark. This narrator does not do justice to Grimes' writing, and effectively shatters the beloved characterizations that have been built up through her other books. He is the wrong person to narrate, ruins it, makes the characters unmemorable and inseparable--a waste for me.
Say something about yourself!
I have read all these books, except maybe some of the newer ones. It goes without saying that I love this series. Unlike many others, I think, I'm in the Melrose Plant camp. His interactions with children is always ridiculous and fun (for example).
I do have a few bones to pick, although I don't know how the problems could be solved. There are a few running gags that, if you don't know the books from the beginning of the series, may fall flat or go unnoticed. The butler's name is Ruthven. The name is pronounced "Rivven". Plant's Aunt Agatha, an American with hilarious delusions of her place in British aristocracy pronounces it incorrectly (as does the narrator, unfortunately). She also speaks with an American or bad English accent.
These things are overlooked by narrators and audio producers for lack of homework. How this kind of issue can be resolved without input from the author (or a fan) is beyond me.
Other than these irritations, I very much enjoyed this production of The Black Cat.
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