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The Black Cat
A Richard Jury Mystery, #22

by Martha Grimes


At page 21 I jumped up and did my happy dance. "He's back! He's back! He's back!"

Harry Johnson (and Mungo) are back, and that means the black cat is more than kidnapped or murdered; the cat is alive, the cat is dead! Introduced in The Old Wine Shades (less than a year ago for Jury), Harry Johnson is the antagonist necessary to bring Jury out of his spiraling depression. Johnson's polished and affable exterior fits smoothly over an arrogant and frightening evil that Jury didn't recognize until it was too late and it's the last straw. Jury lost his fiancÚ, was shot, was suspended for doing his job, his new lover is near death and his last several cases have ended in tragedy. Who can blame the guy for being self-absorbed? Nothing can bring a man out of himself like having a mission; and Harry Johnson definitely qualifies as a mission.

I really got a kick out of this story. It is a brilliantly applied thought experiment: the murderer killed her, the murderer wasn't there. The solid story and slick dialog about wine and shoes and movies reminded me of reading Allingham or Sayers. It wasn't as GREAT as the previous two Richard Jury novels ( The Old Wine Shades and Dust), which are just about as perfect as any two books can get. Of course I've always loved the Richard Jury series and the characters in the books. One can't help but respect Melrose Plant's abecedarian approach to detection and undercover work: librarian, gardener, art expert, Neils Bohr! At least this time being an animal shelter employee and taking a professional escort out on a date didn't require much preparation.

Oh—I almost forgot. The professional escort murders are the subplot of interest in this chapter of the overall Harry Johnson epic. Three women, all professional escorts in designer clothes are murdered, a black cat goes missing from the pub, but a black cat is running around everywhere. There are no suspects, the murders appear random, the cat is alive, the cat is dead, so it MUST have been Harry!

I hate having to wait for the next book, I just hope the gap it isn't another 3 years.

The Book

Viking Adult
April 6, 2010
0670021601 / 978-0670021604
Mystery - Detective Fiction
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The Reviewer

Beth E. McKenzie
Reviewed 2010
© 2010