The Lamorna Wink (Richard Jury Series #16)

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Detective Richard Jury is back in the 16th novel in Martha Grimes' extraordinary New York Times bestselling series—now enmeshed in a series of strange crimes and disappearances, and an age-old tragedy that consumes his sidekick Melrose Plant....

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The Lamorna Wink (Richard Jury Series #16)

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Detective Richard Jury is back in the 16th novel in Martha Grimes' extraordinary New York Times bestselling series—now enmeshed in a series of strange crimes and disappearances, and an age-old tragedy that consumes his sidekick Melrose Plant....

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
September 1999

The Jury Is Out!

Some of my favorite writers created make-believe worlds: Edgar Rice Burroughs, P. G. Wodehouse, Arthur Conan Doyle.

Of all the contemporary mystery writers, only one has gone to the lengths of the masters I just mentioned. Martha Grimes has created an England very much her own. If it doesn't always square with reality, so be it. That, indeed, is its charm, because Grimes imbues most of her work with jolly good will and fireside tales well told.

The Lamorna Wink, her latest, is no exception. While Richard Jury is, as usual, the star, much of the stage time is given to the art collector and part-time sleuth Melrose Plant, one of Jury's oddest and best friends. Plant is so vivid as a character that in a couple places I had the impression he was narrating the book in first person. In some respects, he's more memorable than Jury himself.

Grimes gives us a setting worthy of Agatha Christie — Bletchley House, the sort of old British place that BBC producers love to shoot exteriors of. The place is filled with older people, some of them ill and waiting for death, living on the largesse of a benefactor who may not be what he seems. No trouble there, except that a few of the guests have disappeared from time to time in the past.

Grimes loves convoluted plots, which is why I won't even try to uncomplicate this particular one for you. As much fun as the plots are, it's the mood she sets that really matters — the world she has created out ofwholecloth for the amusement of her readers and, presumably, herself.

Grimes has the rare ability to tell most of a novel in a sardonic, even surreal style and then shift, in the final pages, to genuine melancholy and sorrow. Nothing here is as it seems — this may be Grimes's sleekest plot twist to date — until Richard Jury comes back onstage and sorts things out.

I haven't read all of Grimes, so I can't say that this is absolutely her best book. But I'll tell you one thing — it is, by turns, charming, mysterious, funny, and — in the end — somber. Grimes may have created her own world and populated it with grand oddballs, but she never forgets the verities of the human condition. This is an excellent novel.

—Ed Gorman

Ed Gorman's latest novels include Daughter of Darkness, Harlot's Moon, and Black River Falls, the latter of which "proves Gorman's mastery of the pure suspense novel," says Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. ABC-TV has optioned the novel as a movie. Gorman is also the editor of Mystery Scene magazine, which Stephen King calls "indispensable" for mystery readers.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her 16th Richard Jury mystery, Grimes delays the great man's appearance until late in the game, but the novel is nonetheless as consuming as its 15 predecessors (most recently, The Stargazey, 1998). Here, Jury's pal Melrose Plant leases Seabourne, a lovely oceanside house in Cornwall, where four years earlier two children died from an inexplicable fall down a flight of stone steps. Their parents fled to London; their grandfather, who owns Seabourne, refitted a local stately home into a hospice/nursing home, where he now lives. Melrose befriends Johnny Wells, a vivacious teenager with ambitions to become a magician, who lives with his Aunt Chris. When Chris vanishes and another woman, whom Chris detested, is found dead in neighboring Lamorna, Melrose calls Div. Comdr. Brian Macalvie of the Devon and Cornwall Police Department, whom Plant and Jury first met as a hot-tempered constable in Help the Poor Struggler. As two more murders follow, Melrose and Macalvie realize they are investigating two different cases, with vengeance the motive for one, the other connected to a child pornography ring. At last, Jury arrives fresh from a case in Northern Ireland and helps solve the crimes, past and present, although it is the hypochondriac Sergeant Wiggins (now hooked on the Bromo Seltzer he discovered in Baltimore in The Horse You Came In On, 1993), whose voluminous note taking leads to the linchpin clue. In addition to richly portrayed characters and stunningly described settings, the tangled plot is strewn with a host of genuine clues, as well as red herrings that beguile as effectively as they mislead. Grimes fans will be particularly intrigued as Melrose contemplates his childhood, revealing more about his complex personality than ever before. Mystery Guild main selection; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates; 12-city author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
YA-Fans of Richard Jury may begin by regretting that this tale centers on his ally Melrose Plant. However, Plant is a more than worthy protagonist, and readers learn more of his background and some of the source of his disdain for his aristocratic title. While attempting to escape his ever-present and ever-annoying Aunt Agatha, he rents an empty manor house on the coast of Cornwall. That this house was the site of a grisly murder four years earlier intrigues Plant as much as the almost-empty music room, left much as it must have been on that fateful night. The crime does come to the fore, however, as two new murders occur in this otherwise quiet region, and he once again encounters the brusque now-Commander Macalvie. He also meets Johnny, an engaging young man who dreams of being a stage magician. His aunt's disappearance and subsequent suspicious behavior when the first body is discovered involves Melrose in the new mystery, while his presence in the old house involves him in the earlier deaths. Jury shows up at the end to pull the pieces together, but Melrose, Macalvie, and Johnny do a credible job of assembling clues and collecting suspects. The Long Piddlington crew shows up and Aunt Agatha is, of course, very present. The solution is unexpected and somewhat strained, but followers of the series will read this new entry as eagerly as the earlier ones.-Susan H. Woodcock, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
For most of the 16th in her Richard Jury series Grimes allows the great detective to lie fallow. This, then, is the greening of Melrose Plant, Jury's Watsonlike friend and admirer. Though laid back by definition—it's in his aristocratic DNA—Plant does make the most of his opportunity. That is, before you can say Lord Peter Wimsey, there he is up to his designer Wellingtons in homicides. True, a couple of the untimely deaths are four years old, but fresh ones loom. And it's all happening on the storied Cornwall coast where the inhabitants are famous for being sullen, secretive, and prone to intemperate behavior (see DuMaurier's Rebecca). In the village of Bletchley, Brenda Friel and Chris Wells operate a successful tearoom. Chris goes missing. Melrose suspects foul play. Ah, but there's a hitch. Not only is Miss Chris a missing person, she's a leading suspect—in the murder of a young woman she's reputed to have held in extremely low regard. While all this is going on in Cornwall, trouble breaks out in Long Piddleton, Northampton, home base to Melrose and his band of charming eccentrics (see The Stargazey, 1998, or any other series entry). Rampant complications, tear-away subplots, until, at virtually the last moment, Jury rides in on his deus ex machina to pull it all together—sort of. Discursive and overplotted, yes, though no more than is typical of this highly popular series. (Literary Guild/Mystery Guild selections)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451409362
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Series: Richard Jury Series , #16
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 354,100
  • Age range: 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 4.52 (w) x 6.84 (h) x 1.20 (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.


"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:

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

    To date this is one of my favorite books in this series.  The bo

    To date this is one of my favorite books in this series.  The book mostly focuses on Richard Jury's co-star, Melrose Plant, your
    quintessential country gentleman/amateur sleuth.  One of Grimes' talents as an author is the ability to balance humor and tragedy.  
    The mystery in part deals with the drowning deaths of two young children in Cornwall.  When the reader discovers the truth behind
    their deaths it is absolutely devastating.  Yet Grimes realizes that she can't simply end the book there and she deploys the beloved
    residents of Long Piddleton to lighten the mood.  When you are at the point of tears in one chapter and laughing out loud a
    few chapters later, you know it must be a good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2005

    A Muddled Ending

    Most of Martha Grimes' novel is enjoyable and well written. However, I found the end jarring. Without giving it away, mixing the powerful resolution with the silly antics of her regular cast of eccentrics causes the story to lose some of its power. It's as if she is trying to mix Wodehouse with Ross Macdonald.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2001

    This Pub's For You!

    ¿`Just bring me a pot of poison,¿ said the elegant man, replacing the Woodbine Tearoom menu carefully between the salt cellar and the sugar bowl.¿ This is, of course, Melrose Plant, Martha Grimes's gentrified man about, who is usually on hand to assist his good friend Superintendent Richard Jury in solving the next Grimes murder mystery! In ¿The Lamorna Wink,¿ Grimes re-introduces us to the gaggle of characters who have appeared in and out of some fifteen Richard Jury mysteries, characters to those readers who have followed this series through the years and the episodes who are like family members: Aunt Agatha, Sergeant Wiggins, Marshall Trueblood, Diane Demorney, Vivian Rivington, Carole-anne Palutski, Superintendent Racer, Cyril the cat, et al. This time, Jury has been sent to investigate a situation in Northern Ireland and Grimes lets Melrose Plant have the spotlight. For his legal assistance, he calls in Brian Macalvie, whom we¿d met before, and the two of them proceed with the case at hand. A local woman has gone missing, a body is found, and other questions are raised as the author takes her setting out of London to the Devon and Cornwall areas. Of course, by the time all is settled, Jury has returned to tie everything up quite nicely, thank you. Grimes¿ Jury novels are all named for actual pubs and this is no exception. It is an adventure in itself tracking them down, incidentally. And in ¿The Lamorna Wink¿ she is back to doing what she does best, permitting her unforgettable characters make the world a better place for all of us!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2001

    Manipulative and Disappointing

    I've enjoyed many of Martha Grimes' books before, so I was surprised and dismayed to find that she had slipped into the trap of sacrificing plausibility for shock value. Admittedly, Grimes doesn't exactly specialize in the realistic, but this time the plotting seems more sloppy than fanciful. Grimes seems to have succumbed to the unpleasant trend among mystery writers of relying on ever more horrible crimes to sustain reader interest. In this case, two children are murdered in a particularly ugly way. To make sure we get it, Grimes supplies lengthy descriptions of the terror and horror of it all. (I suppose one could call this setting a somber mood, but the lack of subtlety here is stunning.) Bad enough for my taste, but then she scrambles the gothic tone by providing a laughably implausible motive--as in I actually laughed out loud. She further adds to the bipolar effect by interspersing comical interludes among the cast of characters back home. In the end, the whole plot seems calculated (or miscalculated) and the reader leaves feeling manipulated.

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