The Old Contemptibles (Richard Jury Series #11)

( 5 )

Overview

"The author keeps us enthralled with the rich interior and exterior lives of her characters in this emotionally stormy family saga."
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
When Scotland Yard superintendent Richard Jury is drawn into a brief affair with a troubled widow named Jane Holdsworth, her subsequent death makes him a suspect in her murder. Unable to leave London, Jury sends Melrose Plant, eighth Earl of Caverness to the Lake District to pry open the Holdsworth family's locked box...
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The Old Contemptibles

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Overview

"The author keeps us enthralled with the rich interior and exterior lives of her characters in this emotionally stormy family saga."
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
When Scotland Yard superintendent Richard Jury is drawn into a brief affair with a troubled widow named Jane Holdsworth, her subsequent death makes him a suspect in her murder. Unable to leave London, Jury sends Melrose Plant, eighth Earl of Caverness to the Lake District to pry open the Holdsworth family's locked box of secrets. Plant does what he is bidden, in his own particular style, and what he uncovers is a shocking sheaf of surprises about the death-prone Holdsworth clan and its growing number of orphans....
"As always, Grimes' characters are gems, and her writting is as witty as ever."
USA TODAY
Selected by the Literary Guild and the Mystery Guild

Grimes' British-based whodunits are all have been authentic successes with American readers. Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury is drawn into a passionate affair--and becomes a suspect in a murder investigation. "Grimes' characters are gems. . . ."--USA Today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Richard Jury, London police superintendent, is a suspect himself in Grimes's 11th mystery named after English pubs--this one in the Lake District of poets Wordsworth and Coleridge. Jury is considering marriage to recently met widow Jane Holdsworth at the moment her teenaged son Alex finds her dead, apparently a suicide. Alex runs away, and Jury, required, as a suspect, to remain in London, sends old friend Melrose Plant up to the Lakes to learn what he can about the wealthy Holdsworth family, among whom Jane's death is the fourth suspicious one. Eccentric, appealing characters hold this scattershot plot together. Best are vulnerable, brave and preternaturally bright youngsters Alex, who cheats at poker and the horses brilliantly, and 11-year-old orphan Millie Thale, who cooks at Holdsworth manse and broods over her own mother's unexpected death five years before. Equally vivid are two residents at a nearby rest home for the wealthy elderly: sly Adam Holdsworth, who holds the pursestrings that tie the tale together, and his elegant foxy friend, the perceptive and kleptomaniacal Lady Cray. While the villain's exposure and motivation are inadequately developed, the tale's dramatic conclusion, the lowering setting and its entertaining denizens provide full compensation. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
YA-- Superintendent Richard Jury, of Scotland Yard fame, is back, but this time he is the suspect as well as the investigator of a murder. To the amazement of his lifelong friends, Jury falls rapidly in love with a widow, Jane Holdsworth, and plans a proposal of marriage. Her shocking death from a barbiturate overdose is ruled a suicide by the police, but neither Jury nor Jane's son Alex believes it. The superintendent's friend Melrose Plant infiltrates the Holdsworth household under the guise of a cataloging librarian in order to investigate the all-too-frequent ``accidents'' that plague them. The family members are introduced with humor and mystery as readers try to unravel the truth of the Holdsworths' fortune and Jane's death. A treat for all of Grimes's fans.-- Katherine Fitch, Jefferson Sci-Tech, Alexandria, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345374561
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1992
  • Series: Richard Jury Series , #11
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 295,171
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.85 (h) x 0.78 (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.

Biography

"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

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2009

    Well....

    the plot started out interesting, but just too much jumping from one thing to another.....not my favorite of Grimes' books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2003

    WITTY

    If you like the english life, with high society life, butler and the essentials of beskope dressing...tea at the Browns and so on, this is the book for you to read. There is one piece about men clothes and the modern fashion that I printed out and saved because it was so witty and funny that it's like a small piece of encyclopedia.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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