The Old Success by Martha Grimes


9780802147400_250cdFrom the publisher: In The Old Success, the twenty-fifth mystery in the bestselling Richard Jury series by MWA Grand Master Martha Grimes, an unlikely trio of detectives teams up to solve three puzzling murders that span three counties across England.

When the body of a French woman washes up on a wild inlet off the Cornish coast, Brian Macalvie, divisional commander with the Devon-Cornwall police is called in. Who could have killed this beautiful tourist, the only visible footprints nearby belonging to the two little girls who found her?

While Macalvie stands in the Scilly Islands, inspector Richard Jury–twenty miles away on Land’s End—is at The Old Success pub, sharing a drink with the legendary former CID detective Tom Brownell, a man renowned for solving every case he undertook. Except one.

In the days following the mysterious slaying of the Parisian tourist, two other murders take place: first, a man is found dead in a country estate, then a holy duster turns up murdered at the Exeter Cathedral. Macalvie, Jury and Brownell set out to discover whether these three killings, though very different in execution, are connected. Written with Grimes’s signature wit, sly plotting, and gloriously offbeat characters, The Old Success is prime fare from “one of the most fascinating mystery writers today” (Houston Chronicle).

Reading an advanced review copy months before publication is always tricky. Sometimes the text is well developed and edited; other times you find the skeleton of a plot with some muscle and sinew but little flesh. That’s what I found with The Old Success.

The plot is classic Martha Grimes, featuring several mysterious deaths all eventually tied together by one long thread which is slowly untangled by the cast of characters. There is the usual witty repartee between series regulars Jury and Plant, mouthy kids, deceitful killers, and appearances by the Long Piddleton crew, the gorgeous Carolanne Palutski, and my favorite detective Brian Macalvie.

However, there’s so much connective tissue missing here that it’s like reading the graphic novel version.

As a decades-long Grimes reader, I can see the strong bones here and plan to buy this when it’s published, hoping that I will find a fully fleshed out story. The plot is every bit as clever as my all-time favorite Grimes book, The Old Fox Deceiv’d, and I do enjoy Jury & Plant in any form, but this needs more words. One final caveat: this is not a stand-alone novel since it references events and characters from previous books.

Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Published By: Atlantic Monthly Press
Thanks to Edelweiss for the review copy

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