Joyce Lagow's Reviews > The Anodyne Necklace

The Anodyne Necklace by Martha Grimes
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Apr 20, 10

really liked it
bookshelves: mystery

3rd in the Richard Jury series.[return][return]Recently promoted to superintendent over the ineffectual obstructiveness of Chief Superintendent Racer, Richard Jury is once again called out of rota by the malicious Racer and sent to Littlebourne to investigate a gruesome murder/mutilation.[return][return]A young woman has been murdered at night in Horndean Wood and the fingers of one hand cut off. A stranger to Littlebourne, no one can understand what she was doing at that time in that place. Seemingly coincidentally, another young woman--the daughter of the local pub's owner--was brutally assaulted earlier, playing her violin as a busker at the Wembly Knott Underground station in London's East End; she lies in a coma in a hospital. Adding to the unlikely activity in a small country village, there have been a rash of poison pen letters addressed to some of Littlebourne's more prominent citizens.[return][return]Meanwhile, by dint of low cunning, Melrose Plant ditches his aunt at Ardry End and joins Jury at the latter's request in Littlebourne. As the designator assessor of the local residents, Melrose poses as a prospective buyer of Stonington, a large manor up for sale by the widow of the late owner, Lord Kennington. The previous year, Lord Kennington's secretary, Trevor Tree, stole a very valuable emerald necklace belonging to Jenny Kennington. It was never recovered, the thief having been accidentally killed from being hit by a car in London.[return][return]As is usual in this series, The Anodyne Necklace sparkles due to its cast of characters, which includes the much-loathed landed gentry, Sir Miles Bodenheim and the rest of his obnoxious family; the Craigie sisters; the introduction of Polly Praed, local trash mystery writer and others. But alone worth the price of the book is the Cripps family of Catchcoach St. in London's East End: Ash (the Flasher) Cripps, his wife White Ellie (short for Elephant), and their brood of criminals-in-the-making, including (but not restricted to) Sookey, Joey, and Friendly who is a bit too much of a chip off the old block. The initial description of Jury and Wiggen's encounter with the Cripps' home and the family is a hysterically funny piece of writing. The kitchen:[return][return]"...was the dirtiest scullery Jury had ever seen. Crusted dishes, spent crockery and pockmarked pots covered every surface. Icicles of grease hung from the cooker. Wiggens stared in perverse fascination at a frying pan which held an inch of hardened lard."[return][return]White Ellie herself is one of literature's more memorable creations.[return][return]Melrose's visit to Catchcoach St. in his Rolls Royce Silver Shadow and his back-up plan for preserving the integrity of his car are worthy additions to the theories of child-rearing.[return][return]To offset the Cripps offspring, there is, in Littlebourne, Emily Louise Perk, another of Grimes' bright young children who are integral to teh solving of the mystery.[return][return]The titles of the books in this series are the names of pubs and inns, and the Andoyne Necklace is no exception. Not only does it play a crucial part in the plot, the history of the real Anodyne Necklace is fascinating in itself. [return][return]The plot is good, the climax satisfying, but the characters are so much better.[return][return]Grimesism: "Her [Sylvia Bodenheim] eyes were the color of fungi one was always afraid of picking in the woods."[return][return]Highly recommended if only for the Cripps family.
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