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by Martha Grimes
Signet, March 2007
416 pages
ISBN: 0451220722

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Richard Jury is on some kind of unofficial leave from Scotland Yard, something to do with a previous case. One day he walks into a pub and Harry Johnson tells him an off-the-wall story. A buddy of Harryís has lost everything he holds dear: his wife, his son, his dog. All gone one day when they were all in Surrey. Almost a year later, the dog comes back.

Juryís curiosity is piqued; he is, after all, a policeman and a good one. He asks questions, checks out the answers as best he can, considering that all the resources usually available to him are not necessarily at his fingertips right now. He sometimes takes the long way around to get his information. And he keeps going back to the pub and to Harry Johnson, finding out more and more about Hugh Gault and his bizarre story.

The story gets more and more convoluted, more and more difficult to believe. Jury keeps checking it out, and it keeps coming back true. Some things canít easily be checked, of course. People make quick trips to Italy; how nice to have friends with that kind of money. And then a body turns up. Is it the missing wife? How much of what Harry Johnson told Jury can be construed in more than one way?

I stopped reading Martha Grimes a while ago, and now I canít remember why. The characters in THE OLD WINE SHADES are wonderful; enough of the back story is given to reveal some depths but not so much as to drown the current story. The plotting is superb. I knew I was being set up but hadnít the faintest idea why, or how it all would end.

For those readers who have enjoyed Grimesís work for years, this one wonít change anyoneís mind. For those of you who stopped reading her, for whatever reason, this might well be the book to change your mind back again.

Reviewed by P. J. Coldren, June 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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