While in the hospital recovering from gunshot wounds, Scotland Yard superintendent Richard Jury begins an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of the 15-year-old daughter of Jury's surgeon. The girl was apparently kidnapped, along with a valuable race horse, from her grandfather's stud farm one night while she was tending to the sick horse. No ransom demand was made and the trail is stone cold.
At Jury's urging, Melrose Plant, wealthy, brilliant, and eccentric former nobleman, takes on the legwork of the investigation by presenting himself at the stud farm as a potential horse buyer. But a dead body is found on the farm's training track.
Jury is discharged from hospital, the missing girl reappears on her own along with several "liberated" horses, and Jury travels to London, Wales, and the stud farm, trying to make sense out of multiple storylines including the girl's kidnapping, an insurance scam involving a supposedly dead jockey, animal abuse, murder for jealousy, and killing for revenge. Most of the horse racing details are wrong, by the way, and the dead jockey plotline is absolutely impossible.
This report prepared by Laura Adamson
Viking, Aug 2002, 25.95, 428 pp.
Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury lies in the hospital recovering from the near fatal shooting (see THE BLUE LAST) that left him in a coma. As he slowly begins to feel a little better, Richard is bored with inactivity, needs distraction, and struggles to ignore his starchy nurse.
Richard's assistant Melrose Plant provides the recuperating cop with a juicy tidbit that he overheard in the Grave Maurice Pub involving the daughter of the doctor tending to the injured law enforcement official. Two female patrons were discussing the disappearance of fifteen year old Nell Ryder and her family's valuable thoroughbred Aqueduct. The case of the teen's disappearance is officially cold, but Richard and Melrose begin discussing it. Soon the latter begins investigating the vanishing under Richard's bedside direction.
The latest Jury police procedural depends too much on coincidence and horse breeding than on hard core investigative skills, but fans of the series will enjoy seeing the star returning to his feisty self. Though the mystery is a bit weak as Jury novels go, Melrose and Nurse Bell make the tale fun for readers with their radically different personalities playing the stage through Richard. Predominantly for Martha Grimes' fans, THE GRAVE MAURICE is overall an entertaining tale, just a pint short of what the audience expects from this talented author.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner