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Dust (Richard Jury Mysteries)by Martha Grimes
Synopses & Reviews
Coming in January¬—Richard Jury returns to the back streets and back rooms of London in The New York Times bestselling series
When an old friend pulls Richard Jury into the investigation of a wealthy bachelo‛s murder, Jur‛s not sure wha‛s more perplexing: the circumstances of the fello‛s death, the conflicted stories of the ma‛s past, or the motivations of the cas‛s lead detective¬—the beautiful and forbidding Lu Aguilar. What Jury is sure of is that h‛s in over his head, both with the inscrutable and challenging Aguilar and the false leads surrounding the once-charismatic Billy Maples, last seen in a club named Dust.
A web of clues draws Jury to the trendy Clerkenwell galleries, clubs, and hotels, to the dark stories behind Maple‛s family, and to the Sussex town of Rye, where Billy had temporarily taken up the tenancy of Lamb House, the charming home where Henry James composed his three masterworks . . . and a place with secrets of its own. With Melrose Plant investigating Lamb House, Aguilar interceding, and the appearance of Maple‛s mysterious young nephew, Scotland Yar‛s finest¬—and now infamous¬—will need every bit of his intelligence and quiet charm to crack the case.
"I have come regrettably late to Martha Grimes' novels about Superintendent Richard Jury of Scotland Yard. I've only read the two most recent, last year's 'The Old Wine Shades' and now 'Dust,' the 20th and 21st in the series. That means I have a lot of catching up to do, because both of these are delightful, surprising, even magical. They begin as police procedurals — someone is murdered, Jury investigates... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) — but Grimes' love of the offbeat, the whimsical and the absurd makes them utterly unlike anyone else's detective novels. I'm not going to say much about the plot of 'Dust,' although it's a perfectly good one, because I'd rather report on some of the byways she takes us down. The matters she touches upon include sex, female beauty, Henry James, English eccentricity, words we should avoid and silence. As to sex, when we first encounter Jury in his apartment, a lovely woman named Phyllis Nancy, a Scotland Yard pathologist, is stepping out of his shower. Theirs is a fine romance, but it is abruptly threatened when he meets Detective Inspector Lu Aguilar, a tall, dark, passionate Brazilian who seduces him in a matter of minutes. Their lovemaking is the kind that upends the furniture and causes the people downstairs to complain — Jury compares Lu to a hurricane. Soon the poor fellow is asking himself 'Are you (expletive) insane?' Women like Lu have been making men ask themselves that question for centuries, of course, but Grimes presents Jury's distress with rare humor and style, then finds a most decisive way to resolve the romantic triangle. Grimes provides shimmering descriptions of the women who bedevil Jury. We're told of a creature named Angela Riffley, 'She was dressed in something scandalously lightweight and translucent and she seemed to leave on wings.' One woman has skin 'that looked untouched by anything but dew,' and another simply looked 'ambrosial.' Jury's neighbor Carole-anne appears clad in 'lemon and what looked like meringue frothing at her neckline.' Sex with Lu 'was turmoil, like grabbing at air and finding flesh.' Henry James enters the story because the murder victim, a wealthy young patron of the arts, has been living at Lamb House, which was once James' home in the village of Rye. This leads to lengthy discussions of James' writing ('Violence muffled by the most exquisite and civilized conversation'). Elsewhere on the literary front, Grimes skips lightly to Proust and has Jury declare of 'Swann's Way' that most people 'read up to the madeleine dipped in tea and then give up.' We are reminded, too, that Lord Byron once called himself 'half deity, half dust.' Although Grimes is American — she lives in Washington — she has a wicked eye for English eccentricity. Its chief embodiment is Jury's aristocratic friend Melrose Plant, aka Lord Ardry, who has a goat named Aghast and a horse named Aggrieved and who frequents a ghastly London club called Boring's, where one employee is 'a small man with a face like a walnut who looked a hundred and probably was.' The feckless Plant has a circle of fusty friends who say things like: 'White-Winterbotham? The only time I've heard that name was in connection with a triple murder in Clapham. A grizzly affair. Are these your people?' At another level of society, Jury's assistant, Wiggins, holds forth on the relative virtues of such food chains as Happy Eater, Burger King and Little Chefs. Grimes also pays a lot of attention to children (some spunky, some disgusting) and dogs. Mungo, the fearless four-legged hero of 'The Old Wine Shades,' returns for a cameo appearance. I mentioned words we should avoid. Serious students of these reviews — I know you're out there — may have noticed that certain oft-heard words and phrases are not used here and will be used now only for cautionary purposes. They include 'famously,' 'early on,' 'pricey' and 'albeit.' The reasons they aren't used include logic (if something is famous, why must we be told it's famous?), a distaste for Brit-speak and sheer perversity. Grimes seems to share my odd notions. She revealed in an earlier book that she scorns another phrase on my proscribed list: 'debut novel.' In this one, when Jury speaks at dinner of 'veggies,' the irate Melrose Plant declares: 'That's a word that should be driven to the ground with a stake through its heart. One more American expression that managed to make the trans-Atlantic trip when it should have drowned.' By now, rational reader, perhaps you're demanding, 'What about the bloody plot?' Well, the young man who was murdered — the one who lived in Henry James' house — was mixed up with some priceless paintings that had been stolen by the Nazis, and the clue that brings the killer down is a half-eaten hamburger smeared with telltale ketchup. Interesting enough, but that's not what makes the book such fun. Finally, silence. Jury, in a country church, reflects on its value in this increasingly ear-shattering world: 'The world at large was against silence, which made it all the more restful and the more necessary when one came upon it.' That's also true of the original, civilized and witty novels that Grimes concocts. They truly are novel and, once come upon, they can become necessary." Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
When an old friend pulls Richard Jury into the investigation of a wealthy bachelor's murder, Jury soon finds himself in over his head with the beautiful chief inspecting officer and the false leads surrounding the once-charismatic dead man, last seen alive in a club named Dust.
Richard Jury returns to the backstreets and back rooms of London in the New York Times-bestselling author's latest mystery.
When an old friend pulls Richard Jury into the investigation of a wealthy bachelor's murder, Jury's not sure what's more perplexing: the circumstances of the fellow's death or the motivations of the case's lead detective - the beautiful and forbidding Lu Aguilar. But what Jury is sure of is that he's over his head with both Aguilar and the mystery surrounding the once-charismatic Billy Maples, who was last seen in a club named Dust. Photo (c) Mary McCulley
About the Author
Martha Grimes is the bestselling author of twenty-one Richard Jury novels, most recently The Old Wine Shades.
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