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The Stargazey

Jan 25, 2015

600px-Fulham_Palace_Fulham_19I was looking for comfort. Easy but smart entertainment. So I turned to what I know. I returned to Martha Grimes.

I was taking a walk and stopped at one of the several Little Free Libraries in the neighborhood and came upon Grimes’ The Stargazey, the fifteenth Richard Jury novel. Now, I’ve read 22 of the 23 in this series, and have found Grimes’ writing style and her characters addicting. The book titles are the names of English pubs, fabulous names like The Old Silent, The Man with a Load of Mischief, The Anodyne Necklace, and The Grave Maurice.

Richard Jury is a Scotland Yard detective who often uses his good friend Melrose Plant to help in his inquiries. Melrose lives in the wonderfully named Long Piddleton and though the 8th Earl of Caverness, thus Lord Ardry, and a peer of the realm, he often casually dismisses this aristocratic baggage, all while living the life of the excessively wealthy gentry.

Characters abound in these books. Jury’s work environment consists of Detective Sergeant Wiggins who’s constantly treating his real or imagined illnesses with homeopathic this and that, and Jury’s bombastic, cantankerous, and pretentious superior Chief Superintendent Racer who is plagued, much to Jury’s amusement, by a cat named Cyril that seems willfully motivated to drive Racer to the brink of sanity.

At home in Islington, Jury has a plethora of odds and ends, beginning with Carole-Ann who’s attractive, flirtatious, new-agey, flighty, and proprietary when it comes to Jury, though she’ll readily ditch him if jazz/blues guitarist Stan comes home from a gig abroad. When he’s gone, Stan’s dog Stone seems to roam between Carole-Ann, Jury, and the first floor tenant Mrs. Wassermann, a Holocaust survivor, who keeps a motherly eye on one and all.

The stories themselves can be far-fetched, even absurd, but I have found them always entertaining. Reading a “Richard Jury” book is a trip to England without the financial investment, a dose of British humor (despite Grimes being American) and whimsy, and a lovely way to pass an afternoon and evening (quick reads).

 

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Photo, top right: Fulham Palace, Fulham, London, by Edwardx (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Kat Ward is publisher of Hometown Pasadena, a photographer, and the author of Amy’s Own, her first novel—though she keeps trying to continue work on her current manuscript Keeping Sane, and Other Aspirations, in order that she may not expire having been a “one and done” author. She resides with her teenage daughter (HP’s unnamed “teenage consultant) in South Pasadena.

Amy’s Own may be found locally at Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse, as well as on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

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1 Response for “The Stargazey”

  1. I’ve been in love with Grimes, Jury and Melrose for a long time! These are delicious books.

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