Cover image for The blue last : a Richard Jury mystery
The blue last : a Richard Jury mystery
Grimes, Martha.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Thorndike, Me. : Center Point Pub., 2002.

Physical Description:
471 pages (large print) ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
X Adult Non-Fiction Large Print
X Adult Large Print Large Print

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London's famous "Square Mile" is home to merchant bankers and maintains its own police force. As a favor to terminally ill Detective Chief Inspector Michael Haggerty, Richard Jury agrees to prove that the granddaughter of brewing magnate Oliver Tynedale is an imposter. Haggerty believes that the real granddaughter died with her mother in the London blitz when a bomb hit a pub called the Blue Last. An excavation turns up two skeletons and it opens the door to a murderous plot that spans decades.

Author Notes

Martha Grimes was born on May 2, 1931 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Maryland.

The idea for Martha Grimes' first British detective novel, The Man with a Load of Mischief (1981), was inspired by the name of a British pub she noticed while leafing through a travel book. A longtime Anglophile, she has continued to use a British pub as both the title and part of the setting in each subsequent novel in the series which features Scotland Yard Detective Richard Jury, his assistant, Melrose Plant, and Plant's interfering Aunt Agatha. The Anodyne Necklace (1983) won her the Nero Wolfe Award. Her other works include The Stargazey, The Case Has Been Altered, The End of the Pier, Biting the Moon, and Dust. Her title, Vertigo 42, made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2014.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A construction crew uncovers two skeletons, a woman and a baby, in Blackfriars Lane, London. Apparently, the woman and child were seeking shelter during the Blitz in the entrance to a pub, the Blue Last, when a bomb hit. This discovery, in Grimes' latest Richard Jury mystery (the seventeenth), is linked to a fraud that Detective Chief Inspector Haggerty believes has been perpetrated by Britain's premier brewing magnate. Haggerty is convinced that the granddaughter to the boozy fortune is actually an impostor and that the real heiress was the tiny body recovered at the bomb site. A fresh murder, that of a prominent merchant banker and son of the former owner of the Blue Last, tightens suspense. Jury is asked to investigate, a task that reopens the wounds of memory, since his parents were killed in World War II. The investigation takes Jury through the streets of London and occasions the melancholic, contemplative inspector's musings on the people, famous and infamous, who once crowded the British capital. Jury in Cheapside, at the site of the old Mermaid Tavern, for example, imagines Beaumont, Fletcher, Shakespeare, and Webster all debating his case making outrageous witticisms about those involved in it. This is vintage Jury: a historic pub, a crew of well fleshed out characters, and the inspector himself, sensitive and caustic as ever, an old-time seer able to explain the unexplainable. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

Reading Grimes's 16th Richard Jury novel (The Case Has Altered, etc.) is like watching a good movie on TV constantly interrupted by commercials. The author used to produce well-crafted, atmospheric works with delightful characters, but in recent years they've become unnecessarily long, overpopulated with minor characters (including Melrose), who take up a lot of time while contributing little to the crime at hand. The premise here is promising enough: the bodies of a woman and an infant turn up in the last unredeveloped bomb site in London (a pub called the Blue Last), victims of the final heavy German bombing of WWII. The woman, identified as Alexandra Tyndale, was the daughter of a wealthy brewing magnate; the infant was the daughter of Alexandra's nanny. Or was the infant, in fact, Alexandra's daughter, whom the nanny swapped with her own child to make her heir to the Tyndale fortune? It's all quite Victorian. Called in by his friend DCI Mickey Haggerty to help on the case, Richard Jury soon finds himself involved with a murder that could be related. Two children, Grimes's usual pathologically precocious tots, enter the action, as does Melrose with a whole subplot of his own. Because of this excess baggage, the reader must wait impatiently for the mystery to resume. A far-fetched solution will satisfy only the author's staunchest fans. 8-city author tour. (Sept. 10) Forecast: Despite the weakness of this title, Grimes is impervious to negative criticism; like others in the series, this one should hit bestseller charts. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

After a three-year hiatus, Grimes returns with her 17th Richard Jury mystery. Here, Jury's old friend Mickey Haggerty, a London cop, persuades him to investigate the murder of Simon Croft, perhaps killed because he was writing a book that would expose a 50-year-old deception, the substitution of the granddaughter of magnate Oliver Tynedale for the child of her nanny during the London blitz. When he goes to Tynedale Lodge, Jury finds a nine-year-old girl, Oliver's ward, who may also be a murder target but the evidence of miscreancy is inconclusive. There is an odd subplot that sends Jury's friends Melrose Plant and Marshall Trueblood to Italy in search of a painting's provenance, plus the usual assortment of eccentric characters and two winning children. The plot is as devious and convoluted as any Jury mystery, but readers who aren't Renaissance fans may find the side trip to Italy superfluous. For mystery and Jury aficionados. Francine Fialkoff, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One "'Poet,' it says, "'died from stab of rose.' Must be a thorn that stabbed him. Who do you suppose that is?"     Richard Jury looked up and across at Sergeant Wiggins. "Rilke. What is that, the crossword? Rilke, if memory serves me." Memory served up entirely too much. Jury sat reading a forensics report while Detective Sergeant Wiggins, seated at a desk across the room, was stirring up ever more esoteric means of dying. Wiggins was really into death, Jury remarked not for the first time. Or at least into the ills that flesh is heir to. Wiggins was heir to the lot, to hear him talk.     "Rilke?" said Wiggins. He counted the spaces. "That'd fit all right. You'd be a whiz at crosswords, knowing things like that." He poured out the tea.     "That's the only thing I know like that."     Wiggins was spooning in sugar, and, having dumped four teaspoonfuls into his own tea, started in on Jury's.     "One," said Jury, not even looking up from his folder. Tea making in this office had achieved the status of ritual, one so long undertaken that Jury knew where Sergeant Wiggins was at every step. Perhaps it was the spoon clicking against the cup with each teaspoonful that sent out a signal.     "Was he hemophiliac, then, this Rilke?"     "Beats me." Trust Wiggins to put it down to a disorder of blood or bone. A lengthy silence followed, during which Jury did look up to see Wiggins sitting with his hands wrapped around both mugs as he stared out of the window. "Is my mug going to grow little mug legs and walk over here on its own?"     Wiggins jumped. "Oh, sorry." He rose and took Jury's tea to him, saying, when he'd returned to his own desk, "I just can't think of other blood conditions that would result in death from a rose-thorn prick."     Lines of a poem came unbidden to Jury's mind: O Rose, thou ar't sick. The invisible worm ... William Blake. He wouldn't mention this to Wiggins. One rose death was enough for one morning.     Wiggins persisted. "A prick could cause that much blood to flow? I mean, the guy could hardly bleed out from it." He frowned, drank his tea, kept on frowning. "I should know the answer to that."     "Why? That's what police doctors are for. Call forensics if you're desperate." That flies in the night In the howling storm ...     Jury closed the file on skeletal remains and watched the slow-falling snow. Hardly enough to dampen the pavement, much less a ski slope. Well, had he planned on skiing in Islington? He could go to High Wycombe; they had all-season skiing around there. How depressing. In two weeks, Christmas would be here. More depressing. "You going to Manchester for Christmas, Wiggins?"     "To my sister and her brood, yes. You, sir?"     "You mean am I going to Newcastle? No." That he would not go to his cousin (and her brood) filled him with such a delicious ease that he wondered if happiness lay not in doing but in not doing.     Wiggins appeared to be waiting for Jury to fill him in on his Christmas plans. If Newcastle was out, what then? When Jury didn't supply something better, Wiggins didn't delve. He just returned to death and its antidotes, a few bottles and vials of which were arranged on his desk. Wiggins looked them over, hit on the viscous pink liquid and squeezed several drops into a half glass of water, which he then swirled into thinner viscosity.     He said, "But we're on rota for Christmas, at least Christmas morning. I won't get to Manchester until dinnertime, probably."     "Hell, just go ahead. I'll cover for you."     Wiggins shook his head. "No, that wouldn't be fair, sir. No, I'll be here. Christmas can be hell on wheels for people deciding to bloody up other people. Just give some guy a holiday and he goes for a gun."     Jury laughed. "True. Maybe we'll have time for a bang-up lunch at Danny Wu's on Christmas Day. He never closes on holidays." Ruiyi was the best restaurant in Soho.     Then came silence and snow. Jury thought about a present for Wiggins. Some medical book, one that might define Rilke's "disease of the blood," if that's what it was. A thorn prick. O Rose, thou ar't sick . He tried to remember the last four lines of this short poem, but couldn't.     Wiggins had gone back to the newspaper. "They're starting to clear the old Greenwich gasworks. To put up the dome, that millennium dome they're talking about."     Jury didn't want to hear about it or talk about it. Wiggins loved the subject. "That's years away, Wiggins. Let's wait and be surprised."     Wiggins regarded him narrowly, not knowing what to make of that runic comment.     Jury got up, pulled on his coat and picked up the folder which held Haggerty's report. "I'm going to the City; if you need me I'll be at Snow Hill police station with Mickey Haggerty."     "All right." Wiggins drank his pink stuff and turned toward the window. He said, as Jury was going out the door, "It sounds like something out of a fairy tale, almost."     "What does? The millennium dome?"     "No, no, no. It's this Rilke fellow. It's like the princess who pricked her finger spinning, falling asleep forever. Dying from the prick of a rose thorn." He looked at Jury. "It's sort of a breathtaking death, isn't it?"     "I guess I don't want to be breathtaken, Wiggins. See you." Excerpted from The Blue Last by Martha Grimes. Copyright © 2001 by Martha Grimes. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.