The Black Cat (Richard Jury Series #22)

( 74 )

Overview

Richard Jury is still dealing with the guilt of the accident that sent Lu Aquilar into a coma. But then he gets assigned the case of a beautiful woman who was murdered on the grounds of a pub called the Black Cat. And the only witness is a black cat. The woman is unidentifiable-but Jury is going to see that the person responsible is known to all...

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The Black Cat: A Richard Jury Mystery

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Overview

Richard Jury is still dealing with the guilt of the accident that sent Lu Aquilar into a coma. But then he gets assigned the case of a beautiful woman who was murdered on the grounds of a pub called the Black Cat. And the only witness is a black cat. The woman is unidentifiable-but Jury is going to see that the person responsible is known to all...

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
Grimes can be many things—literate, lyrical, funny, funky, discursive, bizarre—but she is never clunky. Sometimes, reading her, you think you've stumbled on an improbable fusion of Agatha Christie and Monty Python, but that, in moderation, is not an unpleasant experience…This is, let it be said, a monumentally whimsical novel. You may find it bewildering at times, but if you are partial to whimsy it will dazzle you.
—The Washington Post
Marilyn Stasio
Okay, so the talking animals may be over the top; but for all its eccentric drollery, Martha Grimes's new Richard Jury mystery, The Black Cat, is a shrewd whodunit that plays on the facile assumptions we make about people based on their outward appearance.
—The New York Times
Library Journal
The 22nd book in Grimes's cozy series (after Dust) opens with the shooting death of a woman outside a village pub, The Black Cat. Though the case falls outside his jurisdiction, New Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury is called in to investigate and quickly learns of the curious disappearance of the pub's own black cat. What bedevils him is the identity of the dead woman, who turns out to be a librarian who moonlighted as a call girl. The investigation leads Jury to con man Harry Johnson, whose dog, Mungo, comes to Jury's aid again, as he did in The Old Wine Shades. Meanwhile, two other call girls are killed, this time in London. With the help of colleague Sergeant Wiggins and friend Melrose Plant, Jury searches for a deeper connection among the victims, even as he grapples with his feelings for his hospitalized lover. VERDICT The suspense, literary allusions, and humor are vintage Grimes with an uptick in the entertainment, thanks to Mungo's antics. For Grimes fans; this might also appeal to fans of animal mysteries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/09.]—Suzie Remilien, New York
Publishers Weekly
At the start of bestseller Grimes's muddled 22nd Richard Jury mystery (after Dust), the body of an unidentified woman, who reminds Jury of a Pre-Raphaelite beauty, lies in a mortuary in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Shot outside the Black Cat, a local pub, the victim was wearing expensive clothes, decorous yet sexy. The Thames Valley police wonder why Jury, a Scotland Yard superintendent, is intruding on their turf. The victim proves to have been a professional escort, the only witness to her murder the pub's black cat. Cats and dogs can share their thoughts, mostly mundane, with one another, but, alas, not with humans. More escorts get killed. Unresolved cases from Dust and its predecessor, Old Wine Shades, complicate the plot to little purpose. Off-kilter details jar. No London copper would ask a London cabbie if the cabbie knows a particular street. This subpar effort from one of mystery's major stars will appeal mainly to fans of the talking animal subgenre. 8-city author tour.(Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451232946
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Series: Richard Jury Series , #22
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 194,247
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Martha  Grimes

Martha Grimes is the bestselling author of eighteen Richard Jury mysteries and also the acclaimed fiction Foul Matter, Cold Flat Junction, Hotel Paradise, The End of the Pier, and The Train Now Departing.

Biography

"No, I'm not English, but nothing quickens my imagination more than a fog-bound moor, windy heath, river mist in an old fishing village, and the names of British pubs like The Stargazey," Martha Grimes has written, and it's this quirk of hers that has made her one of the best loved modern practitioners of the venerable whodunit.

All of the titles in Grimes's bestselling Richard Jury series are taken from actual pubs, and all of them feature said pub in some fashion. "I can imagine the end of British hope and glory, but not the end of the British pub," she explains. So, too, it is hard to imagine the end of these deft, witty mysteries, begun in 1981 with The Man with a Load of Mischief, featuring a lugubrious Scotland Yard superintendent (Jury) and his art-collecting sidekick (Melrose Plant).

Grimes has a particular talent for combining heavy gloom with an unmistakable humor that's as subtle and dry as a soda cracker – a good thing, since the Jury casebook tends to be dark, twisted, and rather gruesome. But she always infuses her characters with human motivations and is careful to set up a chain of clues that ultimately discloses them. In addition, she's been known to thread in an unlikely theme here and there – NFL football, poetry references, animal rights, even hormone replacement therapy.

It's clear that Grimes likes to stretch her legs a bit, bringing Jury and his eccentric friends Stateside for a few cases and occasionally foraying beyond the series with novellas, standalones, and some interconnected literary fiction featuring teenage heroines. No doubt these changes of pace help keep the author's skills sharp and honed and ensure for her a wider and more growing readership.

Good To Know

Unlike many mystery writers, Grimes does not outline her plots ahead of time or even profess to know where they are headed when she begins writing. "I am not overly concerned with plot as such," she explains on her web site. "Obviously, if you start with a chapter such as the one above and intend the story to proceed from it, you could write yourself into a corner. I always do. In The Case Has Altered, I didn't know until I was nearly finished with it who had killed these women or why."

Grimes's father was city solicitor of Pittsburgh, and her mother owned a hotel in western Maryland. As a girl, she spent half her time in Pittsburgh and the other half at her mother's hotel in a little town called Mountain Lake Park.

Although her western Maryland-set series that began with The End of the Pier has earned its own fans, there's no denying that for most Grimes readers, it's all about Jury. If she needed a reminder of this, she got one in the loads of hate mail she received for abandoning Richard Jury to write Pier.

Grimes has taught creative writing at various colleges, including the small Maryland community school Montgomery College and the more prestigious Johns Hopkins University. Comparing the two in a Washington Post interview, the mordant Grimes noted of JHU, "Not one pompous ass in the whole program ... The pompous asses are at Montgomery College."

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    1. Hometown:
      Washington, DC and Santa Fe, NM
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 2, 1931
    2. Place of Birth:
      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.A., M.A., University of Maryland
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 74 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(28)

4 Star

(28)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 74 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    This one is the cat's meow

    A murder to solve with Superintendent Richard Jury of Scotland Yard is always a treat -- and this one delivers. It's a little slower-paced maybe, but that's not a criticism. The pace matches Jury's method. Most of the fans' favorite characters are back, Jury's sergeant, Wiggins; his flamboyant neighbor, Carole-anne; and his aristocratic friend, Melrose Plant and his cronies in Long Piddleton. However, I did miss a meeting with Jury's boss, Chief Superintendent Racer, and Cyril, the cat. As usual, the title is the name of a pub, where the first victim is found with only a black cat (a real cat) as a witness. Back is the brilliant, but scary Harry Johnson. And, there's a mystery of the first order that involves more than one black cat, designer shoes, mistaken identity and again, as usual, a child to vex Melrose. I loved the whimsical chapters that share the thoughts of Harry's dog, Mungo, and Morris, the cat and their attempt to transmit clues to Jury. It's not necessary to have read the previous book, "The Old Wine Shades," but it wouldn't hurt because Harry Johnson and another character were introduced then.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Not her best, but enjoyable

    The Black Cat, the newest Richard Jury novel is an okay addition to the collection. It is definitely not the best in the series - falling someplace in the low middle for me. I would have enjoyed having more of the regular faces show up a bit more in the book. The mystery just does not seem to flow the way some of the others did.
    If you are a fan of the Richard Jury series then by all means read this book as it contiues the saga. If however, you have never read any of the series, then this is not the book to start with - you will never read another of the entertaining series.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Morris the cat is missing and three women are found dead

    W.C. Fields once said "Anyone who hates children and dogs can't be all bad..." However, Detective Superintendent Richard Jury doesn't subscribe to that philosophy. In every one of Martha Grimes', Richard Jury mysteries, there are children and animals and The Black Cat is no exception.

    Also, as in all her Jury novels, the title is taken from the name of an English pub. In this book, a beautiful woman, dressed to the nines, wearing Jimmy Choo shoes, is found dead on the patio outside the Black Cat. Spt. Jury is called in to assist the local police, Detective Cummins, in the investigation. He soon learns from Dora, the eight year old ward of bartendress at the Black Cat, that Morris, the pub's black cat mascot has been 'murdered or kidnapped'. Now Jury must investigate two mysteries.

    As you read, two more fashionably dressed dead bodies appear and Jury and his Sargent Wiggins get a lesson in designer clothes. Martha Grimes is a stalwart of the 'cozy' mystery. Her books are peopled with interesting characters. The plot takes various turns, arriving at a satisfying, albeit unforeseen, conclusion.

    While most of her books can be read independently, I heartily suggest that you read the two previous books, The Old Wine Shades and Dust before reading The Black Cat. A main character of the current book is introduced in The Old Wine Shades and the evolution of that character will help in the understanding of the subsequent books.

    If you're in the mood for a relaxing afternoon of mystery reading, Martha Grimes is a top choice. And you can quote me..."Anyone who loves children and dogs, can't be all bad..."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2013

    Finding friends in paragraphs

    Martha Grimes' cast of characters captured my interest many books ago and have kept it. Richard Jury, Melrose Plant, Sgt. Wiggins, Carole-anne, Fiona and others who add to and enrich the plots seem like friends I can visit just by opening one of Grimes' Richard Jury books. Some day it would be satisfying to have Jury and Plant find women who fit into their lives, but perhaps then the series would have to end because the tension that helps keep the plot attractive might disappear. Or, maybe Ms. Grimes' creativity could easily handle such personal complications for the characters. Thank you, Ms. Grimes. I look forward to more Jury-based books.

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  • Posted January 1, 2013

    I LOVE reading Martha Grimes!   She intrigues me and makes me la

    I LOVE reading Martha Grimes!  
    She intrigues me and makes me laugh!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2012

    Donuts

    STRAWBERRY SPRINKLED

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    Great series

    The style seemed a little different from earlier works???? Still a good read but we need to hear more from Melrose.

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  • Posted December 29, 2010

    Not her best work

    I've read everything written by Martha Grimes and after reading this book, I decided she probably doesn't have much more story telling left in her.

    To be honest, she lost me when she used a conversation between a dog and a cat early in the book in order to further along the mystery.

    The crime itself is a good one. The side story with the dog and the cat felt like filler, to say the least. It made the story drag to the extent I passed up the second "conversation" between the animals.

    In addition, her continuing the story of Jury and his "lover" Lu... I'm sorry, Grimes stretched on this one. Lu is in a near-fatal car accident and Jury responds by bedding another woman? Nope - Not Richard Jury. In this book, after knowing he bedded someone else to assuage his grief, it made it difficult to believe his "grief".

    If this her latest work is an example of what's to come in the future I think I'm probably done reading her books. She's trying too hard to force the story along and it made for very bad reading.

    I give it two stars because, as was mentioned previously, the mystery itself is a good one. I was rather surprised at the end to learn the result. Though, let's be fair, there were parts of that which were a little unbelievable.

    I rated it high for book clubs because this is a book that deserves to be torn apart by readers. Same thing goes for Topical Conversation.

    I'll say it again - not her best work. Good thing I recently started reading J.A. Jance.

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  • Posted December 25, 2010

    Nineteen bucks for an ebook, OBSCENE

    It nay be great but I will never kniw,

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Brilliant!

    Martha Grimes has out-done herself with this new "Richard Jury Mystery". I absolutely loved it and hated for it to end! As always her main characters were wonderful and certainly up to par in this book. But I just loved the dialogue and interaction between the "black cat" and Mungo ~~ a most intelligant and practically human, dog. The story-line was not quite intense this time; with quite a bit of humour/wit interspersed. So as not to give "it" (the mystery) away ~~~ suffice it to say ~~~ this was a most delightful and enjoyable book. A good old-fashioned mystery. I would recommend to anyone and suitable for all ages too. Thank you Ms. Grimes!

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Fun read, not as intense as usual Richard Jury mysteries

    I enjoyed this book quite a bit but it was much more light than some previous R. Jury mysteries by Martha Grimes. She gives you a little taste of each of your favorite characters, although not enough to feel you know them any better.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Richard Jury - You Can't Go Wrong

    I could not wait for the latest installment of the Richard Jury series. This is one of my most favorite series. I love all of Martha Grimes' books. In The Black Cat, we probe just a little further into the life of our favorite Scotland Yard detective, Richard Jury. The pace is definately a little slower, which is okay, but still an overall good story about mystery women who are leading double lives. We see the return of not only Melrose, but Harry Johnson, his dog Mungro and the addition of some local black cats. I wouldn't have minded seeing a little bit more of the old Long Piddleton characters in addition to the animals, but overall it is a book I would recommend to any mystery fan.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Delightful

    Thoroughly enjoyable. Was sorry to finish it.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    The Black Cat and the little dog

    This book was the latest in the Richard Jury and Melrose Plant series, which now apparently includes Mungo, a little dog from a prior story line. This author always entertains, but including the dog is stretching it a little. The story line focused so much on the dog and his new black cat partner, it left little room for the interaction between old favorites such as Melrose's local characters, not to mention no contact with his aunt, which always amuses. Overall a good story line, and the usual twist in the end, where murder is done for reasons that are not revealed until that twist. Next time less dog more people.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Cats! Cats Cats!

    One of the best Richard Jury books. While it is a very good mystery, it also exposes a softer side of Jury. The life style of the English is a good escape.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

    Enjoyable reading

    Great reading just to get away from day to day boredom.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2010

    Martha Grimes has still got it!

    Martha Grimes has created another wonderful English pub mystery with The Black Cat. It starts with the murder of a mystery woman at the Black Cat pub in Chesham. The victim has been leading a double life, one as a quiet, mousy librarian in London and the other as a glamorous, well shod employee of an escort service. Two more murders follow, both involving women from other escort services. Richard Jury believes they're connected but how is the rub.

    Wonderful characters, a good yarn and humor thrown in to lighten the mood. Plus more info about designer shoes than you'll ever need. A keeper!

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    The Black Cat by Martha Grimes

    A woman wearing designer shoes is found murdered outside the unglamorous Black Cat pub in a small village. In London, a similar crime is discovered. For fans of Martha Grimes' Richard Jury mysteries, this will be, as expected, a satisfying read and will appeal to anyone who enjoys a traditional, cozy British mystery. It is not necessary to have read earlier Jury mysteries to enjoy the story. But diehard fans might be disappointed that the dog Mungo plays a key role here, while Melrose Plant -- the most delightful character in this series -- is relegated to a much smaller supporting role. Nonetheless,the handsome Superintendent Jury continues to be a compelling central figure, following the clues and figuring out whodunnit.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Long Live Inspector Jury

    Fifteen Richard Jury novels occupy a shelf of my bookcase and I have yet to tire of the adventures of Jury, Wiggins, Plant et al. I enjoyed the little lesson on famous designer shoes, and I always love the way animals are treated as sentient characters. The Black Cat seems somewhat melancholy in tone, which is understandable given the loss of Ms. Grimes beloved pet.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Thank you, Martha Grimes.

    Thank you, Martha Grimes for bringing Mungo and Shoe back into our lives. Involving the dog and cat in a Richard Jury mystery is genius. It's also good to see Elf is still small.

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