The Blue Last (Richard Jury Series #17) by Martha Grimes | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
The Blue Last (Richard Jury Series #17)

The Blue Last (Richard Jury Series #17)

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by Martha Grimes
     
 

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In The Blue Last, Richard Jury finally faces the last thing in the world he wants to deal with—the war that killed his mother, his father, his childhood. Mickey Haggerty, a DCI with the London City police, has asked for Jury's help. Two skeletons have been unearthed in the City during the excavation of London's last bombsite, where once a pub stood called

Overview

In The Blue Last, Richard Jury finally faces the last thing in the world he wants to deal with—the war that killed his mother, his father, his childhood. Mickey Haggerty, a DCI with the London City police, has asked for Jury's help. Two skeletons have been unearthed in the City during the excavation of London's last bombsite, where once a pub stood called the The Blue Last. Mickey believes that a child who survived the bombing has been posing for over fifty years as a child who didn't. The grandchild of brewery magnet Oliver Tyndale supposedly survived that December 1940 bombing . . . but did she? Mickey also has a murder to solve. Simon Croft, prosperous City financial broker, and son of the one-time owner of The Blue Last is found shot to death in his Thames-side house. But the book he was writing about London during the German blitzkrieg has disappeared.

Jury wants to get eyes and ears into Tynedale Lodge, and looks to his friend, Melrose Plant, to play the role. Reluctantly, Plant plays it, accompanied on his rounds of the Lodge gardens by nine-year-old Gemma Trim, orphan and ward of Oliver Tynedale; and Benny Keagan, a resourceful twelve-year-old orphaned delivery boy.

And Richard Jury may not make it out alive.

A stolen book, stolen lives, or is any of this what it seems? Identity, memory, provenance - these are all called into question in The Blue Last

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
The Barnes & Noble Review
It's been ages since Richard Jury has seen his old friend, Detective Chief Inspector Mickey Haggerty, and Jury is shocked to find Haggerty in the final stages of a rare cancer that is certain to take his life very soon. Haggerty knows his days are numbered. He's worried about his family. But there's something that's worrying Haggerty even more -- a case that he needs Jury's help to solve.

The case involves two skeletons found in the rubble of The Blue Last pub, and these are no ordinary bones. When forensic experts identify the remains as those of a young woman and infant girl most likely killed during World War II, Haggerty can't help but recall the night The Blue Last was destroyed in the Blitz, and the people who lost their lives there, too.

Indeed, a young woman and child were killed in that bombing, and Haggerty is convinced that the woman's skeleton is what's left of Alexandra Tynedale, daughter of brewing magnate Oliver Tynedale. The discovery of Alexandra's remains after all these years is surprising enough, but it's the child that really interests Haggerty. Because if he's right about the infant's identity, an impostor has perpetrated an outrageous lie on the Tynedale family -- an impostor who's in line to inherit the kind of fortune some people would kill for....

Now, as Richard Jury contemplates his friend's obsession with the Tynedale family and its heirs, the murder of London businessman Simon Croft brings him back once again to Haggerty's bizarre investigation. Was Croft, son of Oliver Tynedale's former business partner and beloved friend of the Tynedales, killed because of something he knew about the woman who claims to be Tynedale's granddaughter? Was the book he was working on about to tell all? Jury thinks so. But nothing can prepare him for the startling truth he is about to uncover -- or the ultimate betrayal that lies at the end of the road....

Publishers Weekly
Reading Grimes's 16th Richard Jury novel (The Case Has Altered, etc.) is like watching a good movie on TV constantly interrupted by commercials. The author used to produce well-crafted, atmospheric works with delightful characters, but in recent years they've become unnecessarily long, overpopulated with minor characters (including Melrose), who take up a lot of time while contributing little to the crime at hand. The premise here is promising enough: the bodies of a woman and an infant turn up in the last unredeveloped bomb site in London (a pub called the Blue Last), victims of the final heavy German bombing of WWII. The woman, identified as Alexandra Tyndale, was the daughter of a wealthy brewing magnate; the infant was the daughter of Alexandra's nanny. Or was the infant, in fact, Alexandra's daughter, whom the nanny swapped with her own child to make her heir to the Tyndale fortune? It's all quite Victorian. Called in by his friend DCI Mickey Haggerty to help on the case, Richard Jury soon finds himself involved with a murder that could be related. Two children, Grimes's usual pathologically precocious tots, enter the action, as does Melrose with a whole subplot of his own. Because of this excess baggage, the reader must wait impatiently for the mystery to resume. A far-fetched solution will satisfy only the author's staunchest fans. 8-city author tour. (Sept. 10) Forecast: Despite the weakness of this title, Grimes is impervious to negative criticism; like others in the series, this one should hit bestseller charts. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury agrees to help his old friend Mickey Haggerty by looking into what Mickey suspects is a 50-year-old case of switched identities. The skeletal remains of a woman and infant are found when the last World War II bomb site in London is excavated for a new development. Was the dead infant the baby of Kitty Riordan, Maisie Tynedale's nanny, or was it Maisie herself, the heiress to a brewery fortune? Was there a masquerade? And did writer Simon Croft, recently murdered, discover it? Jury sends his pal Melrose Plant to snoop around Tynedale Lodge as two urchins enter the picture. A separate Plant subplot and the children slow down the story for a while, but eventually the solution is reached. John Lee's reading is purposeful and adds to the suspense of the tale. Recommended. Denise A. Garofalo, Astor Learning Ctr., Rhinebeck, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Benny Keegan, 12, sleeps under Waterloo Bridge and scrapes together a living running errands. His best friend is Gemma Trimm, 9, imaginative ward of elderly magnate Oliver Tynedale. Gemma, who likens herself to Little Nell, claims someone is trying to kill her. But Inspector Richard Jury (The Lamorna Wink) is visiting Tynedale Lodge with other ends: to investigate the murder of Simon Croft, son of Tynedale's friend and partner Francis, and to probe a potential 60-year-old crime uncovered by DCI Mickey Haggerty. London's last bombsite, a pub called The Blue Last, has finally been excavated, revealing the bodies of Tynedale's daughter Alexandra and a baby. Alexandra had been at the pub with Kitty, her nanny, and their very young daughters, Maisie and Erin, respectively. The surviving little girl has grown up as Maisie Tynedale. But Haggerty thinks she is Erin. Would Kitty kill to protect her secret? As usual, Grimes crowds her tale with unexpected characters-there's a chapter told from the perspective of Benny's dog, Sparky-and crisscrossing subplots. Haggerty is rapidly dying of cancer; his wife Liza is Jury's old flame. Haunted by childhood memories of the Blitz, Jury seeks answers about his mother. Meanwhile, his sidekick Melrose Plant journeys to Florence with the obligatory wealthy madcaps to authenticate a work of Renaissance art. It's Benny's five employers, all with colorful backstories, who eventually point Jury and Melrose to the surprising but logical solution. Some of the interweaving is ingenious, though loose ends still dangle. Even so, Grimes's delicious people portraits and elegant prose are as entertaining as ever.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101118436
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/27/2002
Series:
Richard Jury Mystery , #17
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
79,876
File size:
501 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

ONE

"'Poet,' it says, "'died from stab of rose.' Must be a thorn that stabbed him. Who do you suppose that is?"

Richard Jury looked up and across at Sergeant Wiggins. "Rilke. What is that, the crossword? Rilke, if memory serves me." Memory served up entirely too much. Jury sat reading a forensics report while Detective Sergeant Wiggins, seated at a desk across the room, was stirring up ever more esoteric means of dying. Wiggins was really into death, Jury remarked not for the first time. Or at least into the ills that flesh is heir to. Wiggins was heir to the lot, to hear him talk.

"Rilke?" said Wiggins. He counted the spaces. "That'd fit all right. You'd be a whiz at crosswords, knowing things like that." He poured out the tea.

"That's the only thing I know like that."

Wiggins was spooning in sugar, and, having dumped four teaspoonfuls into his own tea, started in on Jury's.

"One," said Jury, not even looking up from his folder. Tea making in this office had achieved the status of ritual, one so long undertaken that Jury knew where Sergeant Wiggins was at every step. Perhaps it was the spoon clicking against the cup with each teaspoonful that sent out a signal.

"Was he hemophiliac, then, this Rilke?"

"Beats me." Trust Wiggins to put it down to a disorder of blood or bone. A lengthy silence followed, during which Jury did look up to see Wiggins sitting with his hands wrapped around both mugs as he stared out of the window. "Is my mug going to grow little mug legs and walk over here on its own?"

Wiggins jumped. "Oh, sorry." He rose and took Jury's tea to him, saying, when he'd returned to his own desk, "I just can't think of other blood conditions that would result in death from a rose-thorn prick."

Lines of a poem came unbidden to Jury's mind:

O Rose, thou ar't sick.
The invisible worm...

William Blake. He wouldn't mention this to Wiggins. One rose death was enough for one morning.

Wiggins persisted. "A prick could cause that much blood to flow? I mean, the guy could hardly bleed out from it." He frowned, drank his tea, kept on frowning. "I should know the answer to that."

"Why? That's what police doctors are for. Call forensics if you're desperate."

That flies in the night
In the howling storm...

Jury closed the file on skeletal remains and watched the slow-falling snow. Hardly enough to dampen the pavement, much less a ski slope. Well, had he planned on skiing in Islington? He could go to High Wycombe; they had all-season skiing around there. How depressing. In two weeks, Christmas would be here. More depressing. "You going to Manchester for Christmas, Wiggins?"

"To my sister and her brood, yes. You, sir?"

"You mean am I going to Newcastle? No." That he would not go to his cousin (and her brood) filled him with such a delicious ease that he wondered if happiness lay not in doing but in not doing.

Wiggins appeared to be waiting for Jury to fill him in on his Christmas plans. If Newcastle was out, what then? When Jury didn't supply something better, Wiggins didn't delve. He just returned to death and its antidotes, a few bottles and vials of which were arranged on his desk. Wiggins looked them over, hit on the viscous pink liquid and squeezed several drops into a half glass of water, which he then swirled into thinner viscosity.

He said, "But we're on rota for Christmas, at least Christmas morning. I won't get to Manchester until dinnertime, probably."

"Hell, just go ahead. I'll cover for you."

Wiggins shook his head. "No, that wouldn't be fair, sir. No, I'll be here. Christmas can be hell on wheels for people deciding to bloody up other people. Just give some guy a holiday and he goes for a gun."

Jury laughed. "True. Maybe we'll have time for a bang-up lunch at Danny Wu's on Christmas Day. He never closes on holidays." Ruiyi was the best restaurant in Soho.

Then came silence and snow. Jury thought about a present for Wiggins. Some medical book, one that might define Rilke's "disease of the blood," if that's what it was. A thorn prick. O Rose, thou ar't sick. He tried to remember the last four lines of this short poem, but couldn't.

Wiggins had gone back to the newspaper. "They're starting to clear the old Greenwich gasworks. To put up the dome, that millennium dome they're talking about."

Jury didn't want to hear about it or talk about it. Wiggins loved the subject. "That's years away, Wiggins. Let's wait and be surprised."

Wiggins regarded him narrowly, not knowing what to make of that runic comment.

Jury got up, pulled on his coat and picked up the folder which held Haggerty's report. "I'm going to the City; if you need me I'll be at Snow Hill police station with Mickey Haggerty."

"All right." Wiggins drank his pink stuff and turned toward the window. He said, as Jury was going out the door, "It sounds like something out of a fairy tale, almost."

"What does? The millennium dome?"

"No, no, no. It's this Rilke fellow. It's like the princess who pricked her finger spinning, falling asleep forever. Dying from the prick of a rose thorn." He looked at Jury. "It's sort of a breathtaking death, isn't it?"

"I guess I don't want to be breathtaken, Wiggins. See you."

—From The Blue Last: A Richard Jury Mystery by Martha Grimes (c) September 2001, Viking Press, a division of Penguin Putnam, used by permission.

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

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

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