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The End of the Pier

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In a sleepy resort town, Maud Chadwick waits tables at the Rainbow Cafe. Her confidant is Sheriff Sam DeGheyn and what they have in common is obsession. Maude doesn't want her son to leave home, and Sam cannot let go of the unsolved murders of three local women -- or his intuition that the killer is still out there. How these lives intertwine reveals a rich and startling story of parents and children and the ...
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The End of the Pier

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In a sleepy resort town, Maud Chadwick waits tables at the Rainbow Cafe. Her confidant is Sheriff Sam DeGheyn and what they have in common is obsession. Maude doesn't want her son to leave home, and Sam cannot let go of the unsolved murders of three local women -- or his intuition that the killer is still out there. How these lives intertwine reveals a rich and startling story of parents and children and the pain they cause one another.

The bestselling author of The Old Contemptibles brings her brilliant brand of British psychological suspense to a dazzling new novel of small-town American intrigue. Maud Chadwick learns about loss as her son leaves the nest--and learns about murder as her lawman lover follows the trail of a serial killer.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Something completely different from the author of the popular, ever-so-British Inspector Jury mysteries (The Old Contemptibles, etc.). This time the setting is small-town America, the mystery is secondary (a psycho serial-killer of sporadic interest), and the emphasis instead is on earnest character-studies that never quite add up. The primary character under scrutiny is Maud Chadwick, a divorc‚e in her late 40s who works as a diner waitress in sleepy La Porte, a town somewhere considerably "up north" from N.Y.C. Maud, dreamy and depressed, spends her free time obsessing about son Chad, 20, whose increasing adult-ness and separate-ness devastate her. She whiles away her summer evenings sitting at the end of her backyard pier—fantasizing about the rich summerfolk who party across the lake, puzzling over Wallace Stevens's poetry, and chatting (edgily yet amiably) with La Porte's sheriff, Sam DeGheyn, himself lonely in his lousy marriage to unfaithful Florence. Sam, meanwhile, has his own obsession: the savage murders of four local "loose women" over the past few years, crimes not solved to Sam's satisfaction (despite the conviction of young "Boy" Chalmers for some of the killings). And indeed Grimes introduces us, without naming names, to the real psycho-killer, through run-of-the-mill interior monologues. She also interjects—with far less coherence—a long episode in which young Chad visits the stately home of a decadent college-pal and gets entangled in the family's glitzy, dreary pathology. (This section reads like a watery American imitation of Brideshead Revisited.) At its best, atmospheric psychological suspense reminiscent of L.R. Wright. At its worst, apretentious mishmash: though linked by a theme (parent-child relationships), the pieces don't fit satisfyingly together—and Maud's ultra-sensitivity has limited appeal. Still, Grimes writes fetchingly at times, has a large following (much of which will be plenty disappointed), and a first printing of 100,000 copies is planned.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345376572
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1993
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 491,691
  • Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Martha  Grimes
Martha Grimes
Martha Grimes is one of the few authors left carrying on the British detective mystery tradition, and doing it well. Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury and sidekick Melrose Plant continue to enthrall readers with their clever, darkly humorous crime-solving careers.


"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

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2006

    Bad Rap

    I loved this book. It isn't the typical Jury/Plant book (as far as I know I've read them all and loved them all), but it is original and I enjoy Ms. Grimes' character development. I think the book is getting a bad rap. I consider it the background to the 'Hotel Paradise' series which I also have enjoyed very much. Three cheers for Ms. Grimes for not getting stuck in a rut with her writing. Anyone who was disappointed with this book should try the Jury/Plant books. They are great fun. Ms. Grimes is one of the best mystery writers going.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A wonderfully chilly thriller

    I never really enjoyed Ms. Grimes' series detective, but this book and the Emma G. mysteries are original, offbeat, well-written and enthralling. I wish she would write more like this. Truly a good book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2005


    This was the first book (may well be the last) that I have read by Ms. Grimes and the title of my review pretty well sums up the entire book--dysfunctional. The book gets off to an extremely slow start and the slow beginning sets the plodding pace of the entire book. Within this book, there does not appear to be a single, solitary character that is not psychotic in one aspect or another; every individual seems to be suffering a mental imbalance in one way or another. Also, she really doesn't 'flesh out' her characters in any other way except for their aberrations and as societal misfits. The entire book seemed to be disjointed. It was as if every time Ms. Grimes was interrupted while writing, she would lose her train of thought and have to start off from a new line of thought when she could begin again. As for her chosen killer psychopath, very little was written to develop the killer's character; and there was a failure to demonstrate the motivation of the killer. Although the killer was depicted as being in more or less of a mesmerized state during the killing process, at least one murder was out of character as it definitely required forethought and planning ahead for the provision of an alibi during the time of the killing. Another failure in this book was the sporadic insertion of expletives and obscenities throughout the book for no apparent reason other than a lack of the english language to be able to adequately express herself. It seemed as if not one character in her book was able to speak without using an obscenity or two. This is not so in actual life. This is one book that, even though I bought it at a greatly reduced price, I rue having purchased it at all. About the only thing that this book is fit for is to be shredded and used as mulch in my flower garden; but I am not even certain it will be any good for that. If I may suggest, if you have money to spend on a book, make another choice other than this book or just save your money and your time.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2003

    A Disappointing First Read

    This was the first Martha Grimes book I have read, and I was extremely disappointed. Too many people named 'Bubba' or 'Bunny', who seemed interested only in Coors Light and American Soaps.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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