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The rarely ruffled urbanity of Richard Jury is given an oral enhancement by reader Lee, whose plummy narration turns a bit more appropriately droll when it comes to delineating the New Scotland Yard superintendent's amateur partner in crime fighting, snooty, aristocratic novelist Melrose Plant. Both gentlemen detectives are involved in a complex but surprisingly obvious mystery surrounding the murder of a young man in a hotel room. Lee handles a gallery of contemporary British characters in addition to the leads, including Jury's lady friend, cool and collected Yard pathologist Dr. Phyllis Nancy; the working class and mildly abrasive detective assigned to the case, Ron Chilton; and an eager 13-year-old Jury protégé. They and the novel's grand dames, flirts, crusty old codgers, smarmy young hoteliers and feisty housekeepers fit easily into Lee's repertoire. So does sultry DI Lu Agular, who, Grimes writes, is beautiful enough to suck "all the oxygen out of the room." Happily, Lee has more than enough to breathe needed warmth, humor and suspense into a tale that holds off its sole riveting surprise—and a good one it is—until the very end.
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Richard Jury, the urbane Superintendent of New Scotland Yard CID, has starred in 21 mysteries and is somewhat of a holdover from an earlier era of procedurals, when crime-scene investigation took a backseat to the leisurely examination of the victim's past life. This time out one of Jury's informants, a teen who works as a waiter in a posh London hotel, summons Jury (who is in bed with his forensic-pathologist lover at the time), saying that he's found a body. The victim is a wealthy man whose past connects him to secrets from the World War II code breakers and to the novelist Henry James. Jury's friend, the effete Melrose Plant, helps out by investigating Lamb House, where James composed three of his novels, while Jury indulges in an improbable, bodice-ripper of an affair with a sexy new detective inspector. Sprawling in scope, sketchy on plotting, but still a good old-fashioned read for Jury fans. Connie Fletcher
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