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broodings from the burrow

August 10, 2011

into the stacks: the lamorna wink
posted by soe 5:49 pm

The Lamorna Wink by Martha Grimes

From the jacket: “With his good friend Richard Jury on a fool’s errand in Northern Ireland, Melrose Plant tries — in vain — to escape his aunt and his Long Piddletown lethargy by fleeing to Cornwall. There, high on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea, he rents a house — one furnished with tragic memories. But his Cornwallian reveries are tempered by the local waiter/cab driver/amateur magician. The industrious Johnny Wells seems unflappable — until his beloved aunt disappears. Now, Plant is dragged into the disturbing pasts of everyone involved — and a murder mystery that only Richard Jury can solve ….”

My take: There comes a point in nearly every continuous series where the reader thinks, “My god, the author is sick of writing about these characters.” While skipping from the first two books in the Richard Jury detective series to the 16th disallows me from nailing down that moment with pinpoint accuracy, I can safely say that prior to book sixteen, Martha Grimes hit that point.

D.I. Richard Jury is nearly nowhere to be found in this book. The first part of the novel tells of his friend, playboy Melrose Plant’s quest to escape his overbearing aunt, his wealthy life, and Jury’s absence by renting a mansion along the Cornwall coast. He intersperses his midlife crisis with investigations into a current local missing person case (at the request of the woman’s teenage nephew, whom he’s known all of a day), the unsolved deaths of two young children, and a recent murder. Luckily, the detective called in on the case is Jury’s compatriot, Brian Macalvie, who asks for the help of both Plant and Jury’s hypochondriac assistant, Sergeant Wiggins.

Jury shows up eventually to help solve the case, but not before we are treated to sulky whinings about his absence by his supervisor, his tenants, and the police department cat. Honestly, I nearly threw the book across the room at that point. (Clearly I didn’t and clearly it was not so bad I couldn’t finish the novel.)

The tying up of the mysteries was worthy of a disturbing tv crime show episode. Nearly no one is happy at the end of the story, the crimes turn out to be far more gruesome than expected, and I just couldn’t help but think perhaps Martha Grimes needed a Cornwallian vacation of her own rather than to write another book in the series.

Pages: 420

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