Tim Davis's Reviews > The Old Silent

The Old Silent by Martha Grimes
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Aug 29, 2011

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This is the best of the Grimes Jury/Plant novels. The charm of Plant (who plays a large role in this complex novel) is brought to its best in his friendship with the inimically drawn fiery child shepherdess he befriends at a country inn. This child may be the best of Grimes' transient characters. Her indomitable character and imagination, her fierce independence, and her scorn for most adults (which she lowers just barely for Plant, and later for Jury ) make us really care when circumstances place her in danger (from which, as usual, she ingeniously extricates herself long before the adults arrive). Yet Plant's charm is also brought into relief when a bratty boom-box listening child at the same inn is used as a foil to Plant's gentility-and as a severe (and losing) trial to Plant's patience. The little revenges Plant take against this brat and his obnoxious mother are quite fun. Further, the surprises inherent in Plant's character are brought out in his love affair with a leather and chain wearing motor cyclist.

The eccentricities of the delightfully vehement Macalvie are never better drawn, and never funnier. We gain a new sense of the hypochondriac Wiggins' true strengths and usefulness as Jury's sidekick. And the contest between Racer and the cat Cyril is at its best.

More than in most of the Jury novels, we care about the suspects and the victims. Yet, perhaps more importantly, this novel lifts Jury out of a timeless quaint England, and throws him thick into the English rock-and-roll scene-where most of the musicians are presented both as likeable and staggeringly talented.

I guessed most of the mystery by a about three-quarters of the way through the book, but it's final unfolding presented human details of past that were as riveting as the rest of the book.

By the way, if you don't read this novel, you won't know who the scorching rock guitarist Stan Keeler is in the next Grime's novel.
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