Three murders at three different locations, each seemingly unrelated. But is that actually the case? This is the central question surrounding “The Old Success” by Martha Grimes, a Richard Jury novel. Number 25 in the Richard Jury universe, to be exact.
We start off with the body a beautiful French woman washing up on shore. Brian Macalvie, divisional commander with the Devon-Cornwall police is intrigued; with the exception of the two little girls who discovered the body, there are no other footprints surrounding it. And there is no way that it washed ashore from the ocean. Macalvie interviews the little girls but makes no headway into the mystery.
Segue over to Richard Jury trying to enjoy a drink with Tom Brownell. Brownell is a retired detective – a legend, really. He solved every case that came his way with the notable exception of the death of his own daughter. Macalvie calls upon Jury to help with the French woman’s case and so he leaves Brownell at the pub and heads to the Cornish coast.
Just as the men settle into solving this murder two more occur. Flora Flood’s ex-husband is shot dead in front of her but supposedly not BY her. And then there is a “holy duster” murdered in a cathedral. They seem different but there is a similarity, too. So it only makes sense for Jury and Macalvie to call upon the expertise of Brownell. Three detectives for three murders. Suffice to say they figure it all out. Suffice to say I’m not going to tell you how it happens or ‘who dunit’ because that would be the spoiler to end all spoilers.
Luckily, this novel isn’t just about solving murders and scoping out crime scenes (which is a good thing as those elements were not that strong). What fleshes out “The Old Success” is the quirky, eccentric friends and family surrounding Jury. First and foremost, is Melrose Plant, who is conscripted by Jury to use his horse as a prop to gain someone’s trust (the horse’s name is Aggrieved and you can certainly see where that came from). There is a long standing back and forth between Plant and his Aunt Agatha which is funny even if you don’t have the benefit of being part of their relationship from the beginning.
I have never read anything by Grimes so I’m meeting Richard very late. And while the novel does reference past characters and situations, Richard and his friends were interesting enough that I was able to enjoy it. Having said that, I would not consider this a stand-alone book. The plot jumps around a lot and there were times I had a hard time following who was speaking – picture attending a friend’s family reunion where everyone talks over each other and name drops people as if you should know them.
The title “The Old Success” references the pub where everyone gathers. And for Grimes and Jury fans, “The Old Success” will be like settling in with a pint and a few good mates. Just don’t expect to get a word in edgewise!
Lynn Alexander is a recently published author and long-time book, food, cat and college football lover (Go Green!). Her career journey started in upstate New York, writing and recording commercials for radio. She moved to Venice, Florida to manage a restaurant which led her to Naples and Marco in 2002, where she currently books weddings and events for a local resort. Alexander is a Leadership Marco 2015 alum which fed her passion for history and learning. A butterfly at parties but a loner at heart, she loves nothing more than baking yummy desserts then retreating to a quiet corner to read.