Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Winds of Change – Martha Grimes

Martha Grimes is a writer that knows her craft. Her characters are fully treated and you get to know how they think and why they act the way they do The main two characters are Richard Jury and Melrose Plant. Richard Jury is with Scotland Yard. His “sidekick” is Wiggins. I say sidekick, because Grimes uses him as a comedic relief to Jury’s seriousness. There is a lot of light and dark in these books. Melrose Plant is a Lord, independently wealthy, who has given up his title and travels around the country helping Jury to solve the crimes. Jury uses him as an “expert” on many different subjects from antique furniture to gardening…usually to very funny effect because he knows nothing about the subjects.

What I want to focus on with Grimes is her use of children. It is amazing how well she writes them. In most mysteries, because of the murder element, children don’t appear at all or are very one dimensional. They are there to add to the story only by being kidnapped, grieving, or just the kids of the adult characters. Grimes doesn’t do that to them. She makes them an integral part of the story. They aren’t always the ones that are in peril…but they do have a way of helping solve the mysteries. Grimes gives them sense and smarts that I’ve seen in children myself. Jury has a very good way with children and they take right too him. Melrose Plant they like to torment because as anyone knows when you get someone that doesn’t like children, children want to bother them. But even then Plant has a way with them, because he treats them as equals. She manages to do the same with pets, but that does happen in other books I read.

The last few of her books have been very dark. This one is about a dead girl and a missing girl. It is suspected that the dead girl has something to do with a house very near where she was killed that might be a house run for pedophiles. The house is owned by the missing girl’s father, who has been divorced by her mother. Could the missing girl be working in this horrible house? Who killed the child? Though this sounds worse then it is, the subject is covered very delicately and I found it a lot better then I thought it would be.

This is the nineteenth of this series all named after pubs…well she has a lot more luck finding pub names then I have. We finally saw an interesting one this weekend called the “Odd Wheel”. Some of these books can be read out of sequence, but if you read them in sequence you get a really good feel for the pub friends of Melrose Plant and Jury, the funniness of Wiggins and the cat Cyril at New Scotland yard, and Jury’s neighbors.

A little aside here….though Grimes is not English and actually lives in Chicago I was interested to see how well she depicted life in England and the English scenery. I must say she does a brilliant job and you can tell that she has visited often and has done her research very well.

She has written other books, Hotel Paradise, springs to mind as another really good book where she uses a girl as the protagonist and does it brilliantly.

This is her website:

The Jury Books are in order:

The Man With A Load Of Mischief
The Old Fox Deceiv'd
The Anodyne Necklace
The Dirty Duck
Jerusalem Inn
Deer Leap
Help The Poor Struggler
I Am The Only Running Footman
The Five Bells and Bladebone
The Old Silent
The Old Contemptibles
The Case Has Altered
The Horse You Came In On
Rainbow's End
The Stargazey
The Lamorna Wink
The Blue Last
The Grave Maurice
The Winds of Change
NEW The Old Wine Shades

I’m continuing on with my reading list. I snuck in another Muriel Spark, because I had to get it through Interlibrary Loan. It was The Comforters, which was good but not great. I wouldn’t suggest it as a book to read unless you want to see what Spark is about. You can see her toying with a couple different effects in this novel and she doesn’t really pull them off. I’m reading Gillian Tindall - The House by the Thames at the moment and must get back on track. I just looked and I actually have 4 books still on my list that I’ve seemed to have forgotten about! Oh well. I’ll work on my list and post it for Autumn reading.

Happy Reading!


booklogged said...

I haven't read any of Grimes' books, but I recently bought 'The Man with a Load of Mischeif'. I didn't realize there were so many in the series. I have so many series started. Guess I should try to finish some of them before starting on a new one. You did make the series sounds intriguing, though.

Dawn said...

I know what you mean. My mom is trying to get me to read Elizabeth George, but I just can't face another large series at the moment. Especially since I'm trying to be more rounded and read fiction and non-fiction also!

Lotus Reads said...

Although the mystery genre is not a genre I usually read, I find myself captivated by the neat way you review these books. This series has sure caught my interest, thanks!

jenclair said...

I am definitely a Grimes fan. The first one I read years ago, I didn't like (The Horse You Came in On)and think it might be because I had not become familiar with her cast of characters. Also, that one was set in America (Boston maybe?). Then a couple of years ago, I read Winds of Change which started my very enjoyable attempt to read them all.