Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury returns in a compelling novel, the 17th in Grimes's long-running series. Mickey Haggerty, Jury's old friend and colleague, is dying of cancer. So Jury can hardly refuse his request to look into what Mickey suspects is a 50-year-old case of switched identities. It surfaces when the last World War II bomb site in London is excavated for a new development, exposing the skeletal remains of a woman and infant. Mickey thinks the dead infant wasn't the baby of Kitty Riordan, Maisie Tynedale's nanny, as Kitty claimed, but was Maisie herself, the heiress to a brewery fortune. Did Kitty engineer the masquerade? And did Simon Croft, who was writing a book about London in the war years, discover it? When Croft is killed and his computer stolen, Jury sends his pal Melrose Plant to snoop around Tynedale Lodge disguised as a gardener. There he encounters a charming trio of amateurs: a homeless urchin and his extremely clever dog Sparky, and Gemma, a Tynedale ward whose mysterious background may hold the clue to Simon's murder as well as the still unsolved attempt on her young life.
As usual, Plant's world of eccentric friends and relatives is nicely evoked in a subplot that leads him on a surprising holiday in Florence, during which he acquires just enough knowledge of Italian Renaissance painting to pull off another disguise on Jury's behalf. Grimes weaves the threads of this rich tapestry together in a surprise ending that not even Grimes aficionados will sense coming. But it's an appropriate conclusion, given the book's brooding tone, established in the opening pages by a dying friend's obsession and sustained as the investigation forces Jury to confront his own haunted memories of the war. This is a solid page turner, marked by Grimes's unerring sense of pacing, respectful but provocative poking around in Jury's soul, and topnotch storytelling ability. --Jane Adams
From 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.
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