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The Blue Last (Richard Jury Series #17)

The Blue Last (Richard Jury Series #17)

3.7 27
by Martha Grimes

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The City, London's famous square mile, is home to merchant bankers and brokers and maintains its own police force. Chief Inspector Michael Haggerty asks his old friend Richard Jury to do him a favor: prove that the granddaughter of the brewing magnate Oliver Tynedale is an impostor and that the real granddaughter was killed, along with her mother, in the London


The City, London's famous square mile, is home to merchant bankers and brokers and maintains its own police force. Chief Inspector Michael Haggerty asks his old friend Richard Jury to do him a favor: prove that the granddaughter of the brewing magnate Oliver Tynedale is an impostor and that the real granddaughter was killed, along with her mother, in the London blitz when a bomb hit a pub called the Blue Last. The pub's location was the last bomb site in London and only recently bought by a developer. Excavation turns up two skeletons—those of a young woman and a very young child.

"I don't get it, Mickey; you're a better cop than I am."

"Maybe. But I'll be dead."

Mickey has incurable cancer.

Mickey also has a murder to solve in the City: Simon Croft, a merchant banker and the son of the late Francis Croft, Oliver Tynedale's business partner and one-time owner of the Blue Last.

To get eyes and ears inside Tynedale Lodge, where the nanny who purportedly saved the baby's life still lives, Jury asks Melrose Plant to take on the job and the guise of undergardener. "I don't do floors, I don't do flowers, I don't know the difference between a hog and a hedgerow." He does it, of course, and is accompanied on his rounds by theirrepressible six-year-old Gemma Trimm and a resourceful twelve-year-old delivery boy named Benny Keagan and his dog Sparky.

Questions remain:
Is someone really trying to murder Gemma? She thinks so. Was Simon Croft shot because of something he discovered in the course of writing a book about the Second World War? Jury thinks so. And is the painting Marshall Trueblood carts around Tuscany—dragging Plant with him—really an original Masaccio? Only Trueblood thinks so. The Blue Last is vintage Grimes—crowded with eccentric characters and atmospheric, humorous, and hauntingly sad.

Editorial Reviews

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

Center Point Large Print
Publication date:
Richard Jury Series , #17
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 8.74(h) x 1.28(d)

Read an Excerpt


"'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 sixteen Richard Jury mysteries and also of the acclaimed fiction Cold Flat Junction, Hotel Paradise, The End of the Pier, and The Train Now Departing.

Brief Biography

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

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Blue Last (Richard Jury Series #17) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
AnonMI More than 1 year ago
Now I remember why I stopped reading Grimes books.  They began to bore me.   I had hoped that things had changed when I bought this book, but they haven't. The long drawn out art lessons were just too, too much for me.  When I buy a mystery book, I want a mystery not an art lesson.  The entire book was a long drawn out affair that made me believe that Grimes was just marking time, not attached to her subject.Not recommended.
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MargiOR More than 1 year ago
A few years ago, I bought Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes and never got into it. After I finish every single Richard Jury novel, I may try other Grimes novels again. The Richard Jury books are absolutely wonderful. Clean, witty writing, always a good story and wonderful characters that never get too cute. When I fell in love with the first one, I was delighted to learn that there were many others. I think I'm on my tenth, and intend to read every one. The Blue Last is an interesting story and a very good mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Blue Last is one of Martha Grimes's later Richard Jury novels. Although the characters are well drawn and the plot interesting, the resolution is so far out in left field you can¿t see it coming. Ms. Grimes's solutions to her mysteries are often weak and this one is no exception. That said, she is a n enjoyable writer and this book will probably please you if you are a fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Its the first book I have read from Martha Grimes and I thought it was great even better than that of the Harry Potter Series. I can't wait to find another Martha Grimes Book. The best part of this is I am only 14 years old!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just finished the Blue Last and I was so disappointed with the last chapter, and all those blank pages that followed. I would like to see another book tying up all the loose ends, a more satisfying ending to a book I enjoyed almost to the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I turned the page as Jury lay bleeding to death and found blank pages! Did someone forget to finish the last chapter? I'm hooked on these books and am dissapointed to find this one end so abruptly with no future for all these wonderful characters!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Martha Grimes. I've pretty much enjoyed all the Richard Jury novels. Grimes went through a poetry stage. I felt this was back to basics. Hoping for a new Jury novel.....
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have always been a big Martha Grimes fan. I've even read quite a few of her books more than once, but I was a little disappointed in her latest book 'The Blue Last.' I really like her writing because she makes you feel as though you know her characters, and she makes you care about them. I like the fact that she uses most of the same characters in all her books. When she puts out a new book, it¿s like reading a letter about how some old friends are doing. She's very descriptive, so it's easy to picture in your mind the scenery and the characters. The two things I did not like about The Blue Last were: a) it rambled on a bit too much, and (b) the ending left too many unanswered questions. Of course, I¿m still looking forward to her next book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I too feel that this book was difficult to get through. There seemed to be a lot of jumping around, and it got confusing in parts. Too many characters thrown in. Also the ending was very unsatisfying. Too many questions were left to be answered. I was really disappointed in this one. I love Martha Grimes' books, and have read a few of them more than once. I certainly hope she writes another Richard Jury book soon!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have all of the Richard Jury books and have thoroughly enjoyed them until the Blue Last. Ms Grimes leaves the whole story hanging in the last chapter. Are we to assume that Jury dies and what happens to Gemma? What a sad disappointment this book is. I do hope there will be more R. Jury novels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm always looking for the next Martha Grimes mystery featuring Richard Jury. This was a fabulous read. The characters and dialogue are great. I also enjoy reading about Jury's friend Melrose Plant because he always winds up in the middle of the mystery. This book kept me guessing until the end and the murderer was quite a surprise. I would recommend this book and all previous Richard Jury mysteries.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being a Martha Grimes enthusiast, I always very impatiently await her latest Richard Jury novel. The characters are rich, full of feeling, loyal and totally unforgettable. Indulging in one of these books is like having a weekend away with an old friend. I found The Blue Last to be as wonderful as I expected. My only complaint is 'waiting' for the next installment. I find it helps to read these from the first novel which I believe to be 'The Man With a Load of Mischief'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Grimes has done it again. To open a new 'Richard Jury mystery' is to resume a treasured acquaintance with the best and truest of friends -- every one memorable for his/her quirkiness and (with the possible exception of Aunt Agatha), loveable for his/her eccentricities. The 'mysteries' are ingenious, the plot twists always clever, and the characters often hilarious -- but never laughable. Ms. Grimes exhibits a real warmth and understanding of human foibles, even among the most loathesome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Readers have been wondering, and now they can rest assured! He¿s back! And, if you¿ll pardon the pun, with a bang! Richard Jury, the mainstay character of Martha Grimes¿ immensely successful British police procedural series (the titles are all names of actual pubs) centralizes the action in her latest, ¿The Blue Last,¿ in what will surely quieten critics of her last Jury (¿The Lamorna Wink¿) as having too little Jury (he¿d been sent to North Ireland for investigations and other characters conducted this investigation!). No matter. Grimes produces one of her best with ¿The Blue Last¿! In 1939, during a bombing blitz by the Germans, the Blue Last, a pub owned by the Tynedale Brewing Company, is destroyed and in it, the daughter of the Tynedale family. By sheer luck (coincidence?), the family nanny had only moments before taken the daughter¿s baby girl, Maisie, out of the pub for some fresh air, leaving her own baby, of the same age, in the pub, and thus to her own doom as well. Enter DCI Mickey Haggarty of the London police, who, almost 60 years later, has reason to suspect that, actually, the babies¿ identities had been switched and the heiress to the Tynedale fortune is actually the nanny¿s own daughter! Haggarty calls in his longtime friend Jury to assist. Judy is skeptical. However, Haggarty reveals that he is dying of terminal cancer, with only a few weeks to live and Jury cannot refuse. However, enter Murder One, in Haggarty¿s own patch, yet, coincidentally, the victim, Simon Croft, is a close friend of the Tynedale family, who¿s been writing a book of the London war years. The book has disappeared. Was it because he was about to expose a scandal in the Tynedale family as well? Thus, now the two cases are inextricably intertwined. And with these basic premises, Grimes is off for the chase. And ¿The Blue Last¿ is vintage Grimes. Jury is clearly in command of the investigation and of the book and Grimes seems comfortable in letting Scotland Yard take charge. But the book is not simply about investigating a murder. All the Long Pidd characters come forging to the front, too, as Grimes delights in ¿shaking them from the branches.¿ It¿s Christmas, with its collateral imagary, atmosphere, and tone, which the reader readily picks up. Grimes takes a detour for a couple of chapters as she stops the Jury deliberation of his own investigation to permit Melrose Plant and Marshall Trueblook to make a quick trip to Florence to authenticate what Trueblood hopes is a genuine Masaccio polyptych, which he¿d bought for a steal at a local antiques shop. It¿s an excellent breather, as it were, a genuine bit of comic relief (actually it¿s difficult to find characters more comical than the Long Pidd crowd, as readers of this series know full well!). And she offers some good art history lessons as well! Noteworthy, too, is that the author has taken the time to answer many questions about her characters, especially Jury, himself a survivor of the London Blitz (his mother was killed during a bombing raid and his father died in action as an RAF pilot). There are few questions about him that can be asked. Certainly, Grimes seems to feel she¿s answered them all. She also seems to make this one even more personal to her own nature. A complex man, an ideal protagonist for any novel, Jury is a man who refuses to compromise his well-founded principles, yet compassion, understanding, and sympathy for all those who deserve it are within his character range. Coupled with these descriptives, Grimes adds her other memorable characters, all with their own expanse of complexity and depth. All the accolades aside, some readers may find the ending a bit unsettling; indeed, it¿s a strong ending for a Jury novel. Yet, to the alert reader, Grimes is fully in charge and the ending is in keeping with the rest of the book, no more, no less. And one¿s reaction to the ending, of course, sh