Martha Grimes established herself as a premier writer of mysteries decades ago when she introduced readers to Richard Jury, a British detective, in The Man with a Load of Mischief. In the following years, over twenty additional novels in the series have followed, each with the name of a British pub as its title: The Old Fox Deceiv’d, The Dirty Duck, The Five Bells and the Bladebone, and The Lamorna Wink, to name a few.
The Old Success is her latest, number twenty-five, and is just as good as the others. Its action, while all set in England, occurs “all over the place,” beginning with the discovery of a young woman’s body in Hell Bay, a wild inlet off the Cornish coast. Two young girls, Zillah and Zoe, out for a walk along the beach make the gruesome discovery.
Brian Macalvie, divisional commander with the Devon-Cornish police, is called in. His first goal is to learn the victim’s identity. While Macalvie labors in the Scilly Isles, Inspector Richard Jury is twenty miles away at Land’s Inn, sharing a drink at The Old Success with a legendary retired CID detective.
He’s Tom Brownell, former CID director, known for solving all but one of the cases he undertook, that being the death of his daughter. While ruled a suicide, Brownell remains convinced she was murdered.
The body on the beach is eventually identified as that of Manon Vinet, a Parisian woman. In the following weeks, two other people are murdered, Tony Servino and Moira Quinn. The three victims have no known connection, but Macalvie, Jury, and Brownell (who agrees to help) become convinced that in some convoluted manner, the murders are connected.
Once again Grimes has woven an intricate plot, which stretches back several years. Before zeroing in on the killer, the trio must unravel one of the most complicated cases to come their way.
Lest we forget, Grimes is also noted for her wicked wit, and she remains on top of her game. Melrose Plant, the fabulously wealthy former Earl, continues to deal with his American aunt-by-marriage Agatha and has a great deal of fun leading her to believe he is about to sell his estate. A young boy, Gerard, also adds his own brand of humor to the story, and don’t forget Marshall Trueblood, Diane Demornay, the gin-soaked Mrs. Withersby, and the other gang from The Jack and Hammer pub.
Stokely Memorial Library now has The Old Success, along with Grimes’ earlier works. It’s just the ticket for still cold nights.
Located at 383 East Broadway, Stokely Memorial Library is open Mondays—Saturdays from 10-5 and may be reached by telephone at 423-623-3832.