Tuesday, March 21, 2006

THE OLD WINE SHADES by Martha Grimes

Do you love a good mystery? If so, you probably have a favorite detective: Kinsey Millhone, Spenser, or Agatha Raisin? Perhaps you prefer Brother Cadfael, Easy Rawlins or Stephanie Plum?

Many readers follow Scotland Yard Detective Supt. Richard Jury. He appears again in THE OLD WINE SHADES, Martha Grimes' recently published novel. At the wine shop of the same name, (the previous 19 books in the series were named for English pubs), Jury meets Harry Johnson, a man with an interesting story to tell. Johnson has a friend whose wife, son, and dog disappeared while shopping for houses in the countryside. Nine months later only the dog returns home. Of course, the police suspect Johnson's friend. Jury is intrigued by the mystery and decides to investigate.

Martha Grimes is an American (born in Pittsburgh in 1931) who often travels to England to research her Jury mysteries. She must assume that her readers will follow the series in sequence because THE OLD WINE SHADES contains little background information about Richard Jury, his friend Melrose Plant or numerous other recurring characters. I did not find a good summary of Jury's fictional career on the Internet. At the library, however, there is an excellent account in Great Women Mystery Writers edited by Kathleen Gregory Klein. You may be disappointed to learn that this resource is a reference book (i.e., it cannot be checked out from the library). But, it is a part of a larger collection of materials gathered to help you find that next perfect novel. Explore the READER'S CENTERS at Bartlett, Cordova, Poplar-White Station and Raleigh branches and the Humanities Department of the Benjamin Hooks Central Library.

For your consideration:

Doris Dixon, Raleigh Branch Library

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I loved Martha Grimes when she first started writing those marvelous books with their clever English inn titles. I also loved the main characters with Jury and Plant but after a while I started to feel like I was reading the same basic plot over and over. There would always be the teenager or child thrown in that would have the basic similar characteristics and the story would revolve around them to some extent. So can anyone tell me if the books still always have that character or has she started changing her plots and characters more?
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