Martha Grimes,
The Dirty Duck
(Little Brown & Co., 1984;
Dell, 1990; Onyx, 2004)

Martha Grimes is the bestselling author of some excellent novels, including 18 Richard Jury mysteries. She lives in Washington, D.C., and regularly visits England, which allows her to describe those typical English characters in a way you rarely find elsewhere.

Having read most of her books, the different personages are getting quite familiar to me. Richard Jury, superintendent of Scotland Yard, and his friend Melrose Plant, a former earl and viscount who had given up his titles, seem so much like old friends you're tempted to address them with their first name. All of the characters come to life; you can virtually see them before your eyes and hear them talking. But not only people are described in such a pointed way -- Martha Grimes also perfectly manages to produce landscapes, towns, buildings and moods.

In The Dirty Duck, Jury helps his old friend Sam Lasko, from the Stratford-upon-Avon squad, to investigate a series of murders committed on members of an American travel group, Honeysuckle Tours. Not only murder threatens the tourists, however; a young boy has disappeared and his father and sister are terribly worried about his fate.

The picturesque scenery of the historic town and the everlasting memory of Shakespeare coupled with the buzzing tourist business create the background of the story. Grimes describes the plot with much skill, gives the reader even more information than the investigation reveals without letting him know the outcome. You actually don't know the killer before Superintendent Jury is able to close the case.

This is another Richard Jury mystery that captures you and urges you to keep reading until your eyelids start drooping and you close your eyes in order to find out the solution in your dreams.

- Rambles
written by Adolf Goriup
published 1 January 2005

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