Review

The Grave Maurice

by Martha Grimes

Read an Excerpt



Last year's cliffhanger in THE BLUE LAST may have left fans
wondering if they'd ever see their beloved Richard Jury again. They
needn't have worried. He's back from death's door and eager to find
a case that takes his mind away from the painful events of the
previous novel. As luck would have it, there's a troubling case
that lands in the Superintendent's lap before he's even sprung from
the confines of the hospital.

Two years ago the fifteen-year-old daughter of Jury's surgeon, Dr.
Ryder, disappeared along with one of her grandfather's prize
thoroughbreds --- both, the apparent victims of a kidnapping. Even
though most believe Nell must surely be dead by now, there's never
been any real closure as to who kidnapped them or why. Jury knows
the answers must be out there and, with Melrose Plant's help, he's
determined to find them. As Jury's longtime friend and civilian
partner, Melrose is asked to pursue his usual reconnaissance role,
this time posing as a potential horse buyer. Melrose doesn't know a
thing about thoroughbred horses, of course, so after boning up on
just enough racing trivia to get himself in trouble, he travels to
the Ryder Stud farm and makes the acquaintance of Nell's family and
friends.

A distraught Arthur Ryder, the grandfather who has raised Nell
since her mother died, fleshes out the family history for Melrose
--- a family that has been besieged with recurring tragedies. Aside
from Nell's father, the surgeon, there was another son, Danny, who
became one of Britain's most successful and infamous jockey's. His
death in a racing accident left his son Maurice to be raised by
Grandfather Arthur as well. Both Nell and Maurice are motherless
and find a tenuous bond through their love of thoroughbreds and
racing. However, that's where the similarities between these two
young people end. Nell was a lovely, happy young girl whose kinship
with horses was something extraordinary. Maurice, on the other
hand, is dark and brooding. He wanted desperately to become the
great jockey his father had been but, unfortunately, he'll never
have that chance, and bitter disappointment has taken root within
his soul. There's also Vernon, a stepbrother to Nell's father, who
is a wealthy wheeler-dealer in London's financial circles and
secretly obsessed with the much younger Nell. Unlike the rest of
the family, Vernon is firmly convinced Nell will return to them one
day. Eventually it's Vernon's steadfast faith that convinces Jury
that the girl may still be alive.

As Jury crisscrosses the landscape from Cambridgeshire to Wales,
readers are treated to the usual cameo appearances of the Jack and
Hammer regulars --- those colorful pub patrons that add amusing
dimensions to the life of Melrose Plant in every Jury novel. Their
roundtable dialogues and subsequent antics are the perfect comic
relief for the darker drama taking place center stage. In THE GRAVE
MAURICE, the group becomes entangled in an animal rights
demonstration over one of England's oldest institutions, the fox
hunt. Although good intentions evolve into embarrassing
misadventure, it offers an inkling of the much grimmer events yet
to come.

Aside from the welcome recurrence of these quirky village
celebrities, Martha Grimes has consistently introduced fresh
approaches to what could easily have become just another boiler
plate series in the hands of a lesser author. With an arresting
blend of prose and dialogue, the disappearance of Nell, the torment
of Maurice, and the heartbreaking anguish of Vernon are revealed
through the voices of their respective characters. And in a
creative stroke that becomes the touchstone of the story, Grimes
introduces the thoroughbreds, themselves, as their random thoughts
and perceptions interject a unique voice among many who tell the
story of THE GRAVE MAURICE.

The convergence of various subplots into seamless fiction is no
small feat --- there's always lot happening in a Grimes novel, and
in this storyline, more than most. Kidnapping and murder are the
focus of Jury's investigation, complicated by underlying scenarios
of revenge and greed, each subplot propelled to it's own climatic
conclusion, becoming part of the overall chain of tragic events.
And while the thoroughbreds may have originated as secondary
characters, ultimately it will be their story, the horrifying truth
behind Nell's disappearance, that will reverberate with readers
long after cases are closed, murders are solved, and scoundrels
confronted.

If there's any doubt that I have placed Martha Grimes firmly among
the authors that I would walk 20 miles in a snowstorm --- uphill
--- to get their newest book, you only need to browse my previous
reviews over the years. I've described the qualities of her writing
with every adjective that I could think of and it still seems
inadequate praise. Maybe the author's own words define her essence
better than anyone can: "writing takes place on an inner landscape,
not an outer." An inner landscape. I love that.

Reviewed by Ann Bruns (BkPageWC@aol.com) on January 22, 2011

The Grave Maurice
by Martha Grimes

  • Publication Date: November 30, -0001
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0670030457
  • ISBN-13: 9780670030453