The Old Wine Shades (Richard Jury Series #20)
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The Old Wine Shades (Richard Jury Series #20)

2.8 24
by Martha Grimes

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A top-notch Grimes, replete with an especially suave villain and a most peculiar twist. (Entertainment Weekly)
The Barnes & Noble Review
Martha Grimes's 20th installment of her Richard Jury mystery saga (The Old Silent, The Old Contemptibles, et al.) finds the inquisitive New Scotland Yard detective superintendent with plenty of time on his hands after being put on indefinite leave of absence for making a procedurally improper decision.

Stopping by a tavern called The Old Wine Shades to knock back a few pints, Jury meets a well-to-do man named Harry Johnson, who recounts a bizarre story about how his friend's wife, son, and dog all suddenly vanished without a trace and how, nine months later, the dog inexplicably reappeared. During the course of a long conversation that includes hours of wild speculation about the friend's missing family (as well as digressions into such matters as quantum mathematics, superstring theory, Schrödinger's cat, Henry James and the power of a good story, and parallel worlds!), Jury becomes intrigued by Johnson's improbable tale. Then a woman resembling the vanished wife is found murdered, and Jury realizes that what he heard from Johnson is just the beginning of a sinister mystery.

Like a set of Russian nesting dolls, The Old Wine Shades is a brilliantly crafted story within a story within a story; with more tangents than a high school geometry textbook, this delightfully offbeat and sharp-witted installment of Grimes's popular series is highly recommended for any and all discerning fans of British whodunits à la Ruth Rendell and P. D. James. There is most definitely trouble afoot… Paul Goat Allen
Marilyn Stasio
Once the story darkens, as it does when the missing woman turns up dead, Jury goes off to interview the cagey country folk and preternaturally wise children who invariably show up in this series, along with the indispensable Melrose Plant and Jury's other eccentric friends. But this time, Grimes doesn't let these colorful cronies run away with the narrative, which delivers on its mysterious premise while celebrating the power of storytelling. Jury even suggests that stories are "what we live for, why we go on." When pressed on the point by Melrose ("Are you saying we live for stories?"), he responds, "Children do, don't they?" We do indeed.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Man walked into a pub." This line, delivered with a droll inflection by reader John Lee, is the perfect opening for Martha Grimes's latest entry in her Inspector Jury series. Harry Johnson enters the Old Wine Shades pub and recounts to Jury the strange tale of a mother and son who disappeared nine months ago, along with their dog, Mungo. At first Jury finds the story more amusing than ominous, but as more details are revealed his curiosity is piqued, and he feels compelled to investigate the disappearances. What he discovers is that nothing, including the agreeable Johnson, is what it seems. Grimes builds a captivating mystery with plenty of twists and quirky characters to keep the listener engaged, and Lee's controlled performance fits nicely with her eclectic, character-driven storytelling. Lee's characterizations are presented with a dignified, no frills aplomb, which isn't easy given that they include the inner thoughts of an autistic child and the dog, Mungo. In fact, the scenes featuring Mungo supply some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, as well as some of the novel's most intense suspense. Jury fans will not be disappointed. Simultaneous release with the Viking hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 30). (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Grimes's 19th Richard Jury mystery is one of the most complex and entertaining in the series. Temporarily suspended for violating procedure, Richard encounters Harry Johnson in a pub and is told an intriguing story about a physicist's wife, his autistic son, and his dog disappearing while they were house hunting, only for the dog to reappear nine months later. Richard and his amateur sleuth friend Melrose Plant look into the disappearances and discover more and more puzzles. This multilayered psychological mystery is more serious-minded than some in the series, with frequent references to physicist Niels Bohr and Henry James, though still essentially entertaining. The dog, Mungo, is as fascinating as the humans and even takes over the narration at times. John Lee's reading style may be too arch for some, but it is especially fitting for the meetings between Melrose and his indolent, snooty friends. Highly recommended for all popular collections.-Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Supt. Richard Jury's 20th case begins as the shaggiest of shaggy-dog stories, moves through a critique of quantum mechanics and ends in a truly mystical realm. In a London pub, a stranger named Harry Johnson tells Jury (The Grave Maurice, 2002, etc.) a story that isn't really a story. Nine months ago, physics professor Hugh Gault lost his whole family when all three of its members-his wife Glynnis, their autistic son Robbie and their dog Mungo-vanished during the middle of a house-hunting trip to Surrey. Though Hugh hired detectives, there was no sign of any of them-until recently, when Mungo suddenly popped up. The story, as Harry points out, isn't complete because the riddle lacks an ending or an explanation, and Jury, his curiosity piqued to the point of obsession by the clues Harry teasingly doles out, can't supply them. Neither can his aristocratic friend Melrose Plant or the rest of his whimsical hangers-on, though they duly ponder the puzzle-Melrose even goes as far as taking a trip to Tuscany to meet the owner of one of the houses Glynnis was to visit-and ask questions. The answers, when they finally come, have less to do with the wheels of justice than with superstrings, Godel's incompleteness theory and Schrodinger's cat. Even fans who can't appreciate the passing strangeness of this truly special adventure will be won over by a precocious little girl and a dog of rare intelligence.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Richard Jury Series, #20
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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

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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The Old Wine Shades (Richard Jury Series #20) 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like many here I have enjoyed the Jury series until recently - they're not profound but they're fun. Don't fool yourself - this one isn't profound either, in spite of what Grimes might like us to think. People who spend their days thinking about quantum physics can have an almost spiritual reverence for their subject, which is NOT communicated here. It's just boring name-dropping. I can't help but think that perhaps Grimes is trapped like that cat in a box of her own making. She makes plenty of references to how bored she is with these characters - the pathetic, barely alive Plant falling asleep at where else - Boring's, the two genre novelists who churn out one book after another with recycled characters. Well, her own fault really because the characters never grow and their lives never change. I mean if you took the time to do the quantum math - how old are Jury and Plant now - 65 or so? Isn't it time to grow up? Perhaps that's why Grimes needs a parallel dimension - so 20 years can pass while her characters only age 5. In this novel the characters I got such a kick out of in her earlier novels are not just caricatures - they are flimsy cardboard caricatures. They have been becoming increasingly silly and irrelevant but this novel is the worst! The only way I could think of the author having any integrity here was if she intended this to be a true shaggy dog story as a joke on the reader. 'What? I read through all this drivel for that!?' However, shaggy dog stories are a sort of practical joke, not usually appreciated entirely by the victim. So ha, ha, Martha Grimes. I won't be buying the next one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The premise of the story is good: a woman and her son mysteriously disappear. Jury is told this story over several nights while sitting next to a man with intimite knowledge of the disappearance. However, Grimes seems to use too much filler in this book. I don't need to understand the string theory quite as much as she tells me. I don't need to understand Schroedinger's cat that much either. I would have been fine with a rudimentary explanation but nooooooo... Grimes makes sure we understand both these things enough to pass a physics test. I am now on the chapter which is nothing but the dog and his thoughts and I have to say, what's the point? I don't need to know what the dog's thinking to read this mystery. Does he add some kind of clues to assist the reader in solving the mystery? I'm usually much more satisfied with Martha Grimes' books. I love Richard Jury and his gang and the mysteries are usually put together nicely. I'm beginning to think Grimes was in a hurry to write a book and this is the result. The only reason I'm carrying on with this book is to find out what happened to the woman and her son. I'll probably read her next book, Dust, but only because I have to believe her writing hasn't dried up. However, why isn't the next book named after a pub?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book deserves a negative rating. After a long time of not reading Martha Grimes, I started reading/scanning her latest and regretted doing so. I was reminded of how contrived and banal her cast of minor characters are, and marvel again at how many pages are devoted to them. There are the usual gratuitous children, and a dog who does Lassie, only not as well. What's worse: You won't like the ending. Save yourself the grief and don't buy this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I look forward to Martha Grimes books because of the English Pub theme. This was a real disaster. She seemed to know a great deal about physics which she wished to share with the reader but it had absolutely nothing to do with the story It was a very long read for little reward.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DaveC60 More than 1 year ago
Intricate plot, believable characters, great settings. A bit off-beat with the changes in point-of-view that threatened to undermine the revelation of the 'solve' (you have to read it - I don't want to reveal what many will find to be an interesting side-story). I look forward to Martha Grimes' new stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this Jury mystery rather convuluted. Grimes usual wonderful characters were all there but the new ones were strange and I never did warm up to them. The story took so many twists and turns but actually didn't go too far.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lady-Lexie More than 1 year ago
I love a good mystery ~~~ a real "who-dun-it" from beginning to end. This unfurtunately; was good ~~~ even the quantum physics ~~~ but only to the middle. The characters were up to par ~~~ Melrose and Jury sparring per usual. I love that's it British but so thankful the author is American. For once we have a British mystery with American humour or should I say ~~~ with any humour at all. The villain was so obvious that you knew it couldn't really be possible. Or could it?? The end of the book was not the end to the mystery. The book, more or less, just stopped ~~~ in mid-air! I guess we are left to our own resources and devices on who really did it. Hmmm ~~~ Indeed, very strange I thought. Certainly not up to Martha Grimes other Richard Jury Mysteries. A fairly good read tho ~~~ throwing in the quantum physics made this book. Which isn't saying much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of twists and turns in the plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. While the science was a bit intense, I still enjoyed the characters in this book. It's a good story and a quick read for fun!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is by far my least favourite of the series. I am truly disappointed. More than three quarters into the book and I'm still trying to make sense of where everything is going. Simply because it was so elementary, I didn't believe it! Please take all the time time you need for your next novel. I still believe you are one of the best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wish I had....quantum physics, impossible dog heroics, plot with little rhyme or reason, no denouement...I don't need a novel to deliver dullness to my life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this series and hanging out with these characters. How can you not love this story in particular --- a great dog, great kids, and a fruitcake. And the science bit was hilarious. Well done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Always look forward to another Richard Jury/Melrose Plant yarn. The prose is witty and the recurrent characters never lose their charm. The physics discussions did bog things down at times, but they were necessary and totalling in keeping with the story. Prior reviewers who bemoaned the complexities may be happier with the latest Patterson grunt. No complexities there!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read all of the Jury books, and I look forward to each one. I had a hard time getting into this one-in fact, I started it as soon as it came out, then put it aside while I read other books. I finally picked it up again and it was nothing like the other Jury mysteries. I have to say that the character of Harry and the convoluted mystery was pretty well done, but all the physics references went over my head and I skipped over a lot of it. It seems the book is 7/8ths buildup and 1/8 conclusion. I was confused for most of the book and even more confused by the conclusion. With most really good books (including the previous Jury mysteries) I dread reaching the end of a book, but I was frankly relieved at finally getting through this one. I hope Ms. Grimes goes back to the original formula instead of trying to write over her fans' heads.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of the Richard Jury series, and look forward to reading the latest one out. This one, however, was very disappointing. It presents a very cynical Richard Jury who picks on Wiggins and Plant, and trots out all the old Long Piddleton characters with no rhyme or reason - perhaps only because the readers expect to see them. I wouldn't waste my money on this one or, having done so, my time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tried to get thru this book, as I am a huge Richard Jury fan. However, I finally had to admit defeat. Had really been looking forward to this book, but just could not finish it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a long time fan of Martha Grimes and her Richard Jury series, I really looked forward to her latest book. I shouldn't have. This book seems totally unrelated to those that have gone before, lacks their allure, and is tiresome and disappointing. The writing is repetitive, the familiar characters have lost their wit and charm, and the role of the dog...well, I won't describe it and possibly reveal anything to those misguided enough to read this book, but suffice to say that this gimmick is most often used by lesser writers. Don't bother reading this one - wait for the next and hope that Martha Grimes returns with her usual skill.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read every Richard Jury book and this one is not worth reading. The first 200 pages could have been condensed to less than 10. No solutions or even believable theories ever materialize even if you hang on to the bitter end. Jury comes across as stupid and dense in his investigation rather than the bright and charming policeman of the past. A cop obsessed with the idea a missing person may have vanished into another dimension or paralel universe is no longer a cop. Characters that were once amusing are now tired - for example it was easy to imagine Carol-anne in her 20s titilating Jury with her toenail painting but now, with her approaching middle age, it is hardly believable that Jury gets a thrill watching Carol-anne count her grey hairs (and is she really going to live out her entire life with nothing but his empty flat for an interest?). Grimes has at least 13 'regular' characters and it is time for one to move on with life, get married, move, change careers - do something different. The kids, dog and cat are the only bright spots in this book. I hope the next Grimes moves at a much quicker pace, shows at least one character venturing a step or two beyond an alcoholic haze into life, and actually has a 'mystery' or 'crime' involved.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Those of us who are long time fans of Martha Grimes expect an intriguing story, but this master of elegant prose and flawless pacing truly stunned me with this absorbing tale. It is nearly impossible to share the wonders of this novel without spoiling the story but I will say I never really understood the phrase 'smoke and mirrors' until I worked through this twisted, fascinating plot. Of course, I laughed with the delightful Long Piddleton group and enjoyed the Jury/Plant verbal jousting as expected - but this mystery provides the unexpected at every turn.