Once again "the game's afoot" in the latest Martha Grimes novel,
THE WINDS OF CHANGE. The regulars who comprise her ensemble cast
are on hand as Richard Jury, Melrose Plant and Wiggins tackle
multiple cases --- the tragedy of a little girl, shot in the head
on a North London street; the disappearance of another child three
years before in Cornwall; the murder of a woman who was shot with a
.22-caliber gun, her body found on the grounds of an estate called
"Angel Gate"; and the ongoing investigation of a pedophilia ring,
thought to be working out of a house near where the dead little
girl was found. Would any of these cases play a role in the other
cases at hand, or are they merely coincidences? Jury, like most
lawmen, doesn't believe in coincidences.
As if this was not enough to keep Jury and company busy, his only
living blood relative, a cousin who lived in Newcastle, dies
suddenly. While the two were not really "kissin' cousins," her
death has a profound impact on him: "Death had a way of kicking out
the props, of smashing one's carefully constructed defenses. It was
fine for him to say he saw his cousin seldom and that he wasn't
close to her and that, actually, they had never liked each other.
That could work in life; it didn't work in death."
The themes of memory and identity are at the core of THE WINDS OF
CHANGE. Why is it that too often things are not what they seem, and
what we think we remember today has a slightly different caste
tomorrow? Jury wrestles with these notions while his old friend,
the crusty Commander Macalvie, who brings along the recently
promoted DS Cody Platt to help with the investigations, joins him
and Melrose Plant. They take over "The Winds of Change … a
pub located in the village of South Petherwin." The questions about
memories and identities are not far from Jury's consciousness as he
listens to the outline of the now three-year-old disappearance of
Flora Baumann and is also filled in on the death of the unknown
woman whose body was found on Flora's stepfather's property.
Martha Grimes is a master of her genre and a writer of
extraordinary power and imagination. In this, her nineteenth
Richard Jury novel, she has produced a literary mystery that will
delight lovers of the genre. Readers who enjoy a good tease about
where a quote comes from, or what book a character has peeked out
of, or allusions to writers and works, will find themselves
immersed in literary trivia that will add new depth to the armchair
sleuth's enjoyment. Quotes from Shakespeare and Robert Frost to
Emily Dickinson's line, "Split the lark and you'll find the music"
and Philip Larkin's words, "The trees are coming into leaf/ Like
something almost being said", pepper the plot. Grimes repeatedly
refers to Henry James's characters, books and style. She inserts
and insinuates the names of characters, and shadows well-known
plots from other classic writers. Even Brown's Hotel in London and
Agatha Christie get the nod in this kaleidoscopic diorama of
murder, mayhem and hugger-mugger crime.
The police procedural may never be the same after word gets out
about how successful and fulfilling THE WINDS OF CHANGE is as a
novel, a mystery, a whodunit, and a pastiche of literary hijinks.
The timing of this book's release is also sage since it's far more
than a summer fling. Enjoy!
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 24, 2011