Friday, September 5, 2014

Vertigo 42: Review

Superintendent Richard Jury meets Tom Williamson, a friend of a friend, at the Vertigo 42--a swanky bar on the 42nd floor of a building in London's business district. Williamson has never accepted the general belief that his wife's death seventeen years ago was an accident resulting from her vertigo. He firmly believes she was murdered and wants Jury to take a look at the case, which was brought in as an open verdict. Jury's colleague Brian Macalvie was the officer in charge of the case and he never believed in accident or suicide either, but he was also unable to find firm evidence otherwise. He turns copies of the case files over to Jury and the Superintendent and Sergeant Wiggins begin sifting through the details. The further they dig the more convinced Jury becomes that Tom's wifes death is connected to a previous death at the Williamson house. Five years prior to Tess's plunge down the garden stairs a nine-year old girl died in an apparent accident while at the Williamson's place for a children's party--she was found dead at the bottom of an unused pool. Tess was first on the scene and she never escaped the stigma of blame--either direct blame for the child's death or a charge of simple neglect for not ensuring the safety of those under her care.

Meanwhile, Melrose Plant and his happy band of friends are interested in a local death of their own. A young woman has fallen from a tower--dressed to the nines in a designer dress and four-inch heels. Again, the probability of accident or suicide is slim and the question was she pushed lingers. There's also a little matter of a stray dog named Stanley to sort out. When the identity of the woman reveals a connection to the Williamson case, Jury and Wiggins find themselves following up clues in London and in Devon and in the British countryside and they will have to get to the bottom of three other deaths in order to make sense of Tess Williamson's.

To read a Martha Grimes mystery is to step into a world filled with quirky characters and twisty plots. And a thoroughly enjoyable world it is too. It's been quite some time since I visited with Richard Jury, Melrose Plant, Carol-Anne, Aunt Agatha, Ruthven, Marshall Trueblood and all the rest of Jury & Plant's entourage. I had a good time settling in with them again and sorting through all the clues and references to the Hitchcock movie and trying to decide which ones were really pointing to the killer. It produces an interesting motive for murder that I'm not sure I'm sold on--but Jury and company provide good solid entertainment and make things interesting enough that I'm willing to accept it. ★★★★


Melrose was so concerned that the [book]shop might close for lack of business, that he had suggested he would like to invest in it or even become a silent partner. "You see, books have always been a hobby of mine." Books had never been a hobby; they were a necessity. (p. 153)


Katherine P said...

I love Jury and Melrose but this one didn't quite work for me. I think it had been too long since I had read a book by Grimes that I couldn't remember all the ins and outs of the various characters. However, I love Jury and company enough that I was willing to overlook quite a bit! It definitely made me want to revisit Grimes' earlier books.

Bev Hankins said...

It had been a while for me too. But I still found this to be very enjoyable.

fredamans said...

I don't know that I'd be keen on a bar that is on the 42nd floor of any building... lol... not a fan of heights at all.
Thankfully the book has more depth than that. Great review!