Review

The Blue Last: A Richard Jury Mystery

by

Read an Excerpt



When Martha Grimes began her "British pub" series in 1981, she may
not have imagined how enormously popular it would become. After
all, some of the best in the business are still relatively
undiscovered by the masses. But after 16 successful novels about
Richard Jury and his cronies from Long Piddleton, there's no
question that her fan base is extensive, loyal and, at times,
frustratingly unaware that she writes anything else. Her 17th in
the series, THE BLUE LAST, continues their story with an unwavering
dedication to those rich characterizations and suspenseful plots
her readers love, but this time there's more than a few surprising
twists.

The drama unfolds with Inspector Jury being summoned by an old
friend to work a case that has been officially closed for years,
but not to his friend's satisfaction. Mickey Haggerty is a fellow
policeman facing a terminal illness and obsessed with resolving a
mystery that has continued to plague him. During World War II, when
The Blue Last pub was bombed by the Germans, Alexandra Tynedale
Merrick was killed, as was her nanny's infant daughter; the nanny
escaped death along with Alexandra's infant daughter, Maisie --- or
so she said. Now a grown-up, Maisie, granddaughter to Oliver
Tynedale, is in line to inherit his large estate, but Mickey is
convinced she isn't the legal heir and wants Jury to prove which
baby actually died. Coincidentally, Simon Croft, the son of
Tynedale's lifelong friend and business partner, has been
researching a book and apparently uncovered family secrets that
someone wants desperately to keep buried. As readers might suspect,
Croft becomes a victim of foul play, and his manuscript disappears.
As Jury begins to pull the threads together, he finds more
skeletons in the Tyndale/Croft closet than anyone imagined, and the
investigation becomes a deliciously tangled web of secret
identities and age-old deceits.

As with all of Grimes's novels, the supporting cast adds wonderful
layers of emotional depth to the prevailing drama. Melrose Plant,
Jury's friend and sometimes unwitting partner, plays a large role,
as do two charming orphans --- Benny and Gemma. The children are
bright and intuitive, generating humorous complications for both
Jury and Plant as well as some poignant moments when each grapples
with the loneliness of their existence. Several of the Long
Piddleton residents make cameo appearances, including Marshall
Trueblood, who enlists Plant in a romp across Italy to try to
authenticate a painting. This leads to some interesting lessons in
the history of Italian art. Jury's delightfully offbeat upstairs
neighbor, Carole-anne Palutski, is not about to miss an occasion to
insinuate herself into Jury's storyline either. And, as usual,
Cyril the cat has managed to create havoc in the office of the
blustering Chief Superintendent Racer, while blithely escaping all
Racer's attempts to terminate him with prejudice.

In THE BLUE LAST, perhaps more than any previous novel, Grimes
reveals to readers the collective details of Jury's unhappy
childhood by bringing him into contact with former friends, lovers,
and family that have remained largely at a distance. Delving into
the war years to reconstruct the lives and unravel the mysteries of
the Tynedales and Crofts evokes his own painful memories and
ultimately sends him on a quest to resolve his unsettling
questions. We witness a deeply troubled Jury pondering past,
present, and future --- a man who, as a youth, had torn pieces from
his emotional scrapbook and discarded the rest, making it difficult
for the adult Jury to reassemble those early years into some
comprehensible personal history. It is perhaps through his
relationships with the orphans, Benny and Gemma, that he is finally
able to bring some peaceful conclusion to the years of sorrow that
have dwelled in his soul.

For those steadfast fans who haven't missed an episode, grab a copy
of THE BLUE LAST and settle back for another literary feast. For
those who haven't yet experienced a Martha Grimes novel, now is the
time --- you're long overdue.

Reviewed by Ann Bruns (BkPageWC@aol.com) on January 21, 2011

The Blue Last: A Richard Jury Mystery
by

  • Publication Date: September 10, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult
  • ISBN-10: 067003004X
  • ISBN-13: 9780670030040