The Inspector Richard Jury Mysteries by Martha Grimes

by AngelaJohnson

Martha Grimes has written a series of police mystery novels featuring Richard Jury, a fictional inspector with Scotland Yard. Each detective mystery is named after a pub.

These books are considered "cozy" mysteries, but they are a little more than that. Even though the mysteries don't feature descriptive gore and violence, they do touch on crimes committed for more seamier reasons than most cozy mysteries. And they have a sense of humor, too.

Most of the Richard Jury books are thick and take a little longer to read, but the stories are page-turning, and you don't want to stop reading. The series has 22 books so far, and I've read 16 of them.

The first book in the series is "The Man with a Load of Mischief," published in 1981.

All of Grimes' books are still in print and can be purchased as hardback, paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Photo from wikipedia

About Inspector Richard Jury

Tally Ho pub signJury is initially a chief inspector, but later becomes a superintendent, He is moody and sometimes depressed. He didn't have a happy childhood; he was a child during World War II, where he was orphaned. His father was lost in combat and his mother died in the last German bombing of London. He lived a short time with his uncle's family but when his uncle died, Jury had to go to a group home, which he hated.

Jury is good looking and attractive to women, but he doesn't have a successful love life. In the first book, The Man with a Load of Mischief, Jury is about 40 years old. He ages slowly in the rest of the books of the series. You don't need to necessarily read these books in order, but this first book is a good introduction for not only Jury, but to Melrose Plant, who helps him out in his cases.

Photo of a pub sign from wikipedia.

Melrose Plant

English pubMelrose Plant is about the same age as Jury.  He is single, wealthy, and educated. Plant lives in the local manor house, Ardry End, near the little village of Long Piddleton in Northamptonshire. 

Plant is the only son of his deceased father, the seventh Earl of Caverness.  He is the eighth Earl of Caverness (and other titles), making him Lord Ardry.  However, he gave up his titles, a decision that infuriated his Aunt Agatha, wife of his deceased uncle.

While in Long Piddleton, Plant is often at the local pub, the Jack and Hammer.  At home he doesn't do much except read and try to avoid his Aunt Agatha, who longs to be the "lady of the manor."  She's a snob and obsessed with the aristocracy, which is why she is so angry that Plant gave up his titles.  Aunt Agatha shows up without invitation, usually at tea time, where she stuffs herself with sweets.  

I love the interaction between Melrose Plant and his Aunt Agatha.  She is terrified he is going to get married and she won't get to live at Ardry End.  But Plant has no intention of allowing his aunt to live there and can't understand why she thinks she might inherit come day.  After all, she is much older than he is.  And Aunt Agatha is always showing up at the Jack and Hammer, expecting Plant to pay for her drinks.

Jury and Plant first meet in the book, The Man with a Load of Mischief.  Melrose Plant is clever with a good mind, and helps Jury with this mystery.  They form a close friendship even though Plant is an aristocrat.  Jury has no qualms about asking Plant to help him when he's investigating crimes, and Plant likes to feel needed.  Sometimes Jury has Plant appear as an aristocratic and other times asks him to impersonate a tradesman or servant.

 Photo of pub from wikipedia

More Characters - From the Town of Long Piddleton

English pubLong Piddleton is the town where many of the recurring characters live, including Melrose Plant and his Aunt Agatha. 

~ Ruthven and Martha, husband and wife, manservant and housekeeper for many years, from when Plant was a small boy.  Ruthven loves to lie to Aunt Agatha when Plant is hiding from her. 

~ Dick Scroggs, the publican and owner of the Jack and Hammer pub, where Plant and the other residents gather.

~ Mrs. Withersby, the charwoman at the Jack and Hammer, spends most of her time sleeping by the fire and trying to get free drinks from the regulars.

~ Theo Wrenn Browne, a pompous owner of the local bookstore.  Plant can't stand him, but Aunt Agatha frequently joins him in stirring up trouble.

~ Ada Crisp, a mild and meek shopkeeper whose shop is next door to Browne's bookstore.  Browne tries various schemes to take over her store so he can expand his. 

~ Marshall Trueblood, an antiques dealer, who dresses flamboyantly.  He's quite knowledgeable about antiques and helps Plant when he needs advice to play various roles Jury assigns him.

~ Diane DeMorney, single, wealthy and attractive, but can only count Jury and Plant as friends. She knows nothing about astrology, but writes a column for the local paper (she just makes things up).

~ Vivian Rivington, Jury is in lover with her, but she is secretly in love with Plant. Vivian was engaged to an Italian count for years and Plant and Trueblood often try to sabotage her engagement. 

These characters sometimes have a large role in some books and other times are barely mentioned.  But it's fun to have such a large cast of quirky characters.

 Photo from wikipedia commons.

The First Six Inspector Jury Mysteries

The Man with a Load of Mischief

At the Man with a Load of Mischief, they found the dead body stuck in a keg of beer. At the Jack and Hammer, another body was stuck out on the beam of the pub’s sign.

$7.99  $2.99

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The Old Fox Deceiv'd (Richard Jury Mystery)

Scotland Yard's Richard Jury and his sidekick Melrose Plant converge on a northern fishing village to hunt down a wily killer.

Only $7.99

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The Anodyne Necklace (Richard Jury Mystery)

A spinster whose passion was bird-watching, a dotty peer who pinched pennies, and a baffling murder made the tiny village of Littlebourne a most extraordinary place.

Only $7.99

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The Dirty Duck

The only clues to a murder are two lines from a poem, and Inspector Jury musttake a crash course in the bloodier side of Elizabethan verse.

Only $6.99

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Jerusalem Inn (Richard Jury Mystery)

Bad tidings come to Scotland Yard's Richard Jury and sidekick Melrose Plant when clues from two corpses lead them to a remote country inn-where holiday cheer turns to holiday fear.

Only $7.99

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Help the Poor Struggler

Near Dartmoor, where the Hound of the Baskervilles once bayed, three children have been brutally murdered. Now Richard Jury must join forces with a hot-tempered constable to track down the killer.

Only $7.99

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New Scotland Yard
New Scotland Yard

The Lamora Wink and The Old Wine Shades

The 16th and 20th books in the Richard Jury series
The Lamorna Wink
$7.99  $1.50
The Old Wine Shades (Richard Jury Mys...
$9.99  $4.47

Martha Grime's Last Two Richard Jury Mysteries

I recently read The Black Cat, but haven't read Vertigo 42 yet.  Both of these books have mixed reviews.  

In another book, The Old Wine Shades, Martha Grimes introduces a dog who expresses his thoughts throughout the book.  This was a little strange to me because I don't associate crime stories with pets having human characteristics.  The rest of the plot was good.

In The Black Cat, the same dog is featured in this story with the addition of two cats.  Again we can "hear" what the dog and cats think. The plot is alright, but I don't care for talking or thinking animals in crime books. 


The Black Cat and Vertigo 42

The Black Cat: A Richard Jury Mystery

Richard Jury is still dealing with the guilt of the accident that sent Lu Aquilar into a coma. But then he gets assigned the case of a beautiful woman who was murdered on the gr...

$9.99  $3.00

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Vertigo 42: A Richard Jury Mystery

In her latest Richard Jury mystery, Martha Grimes delivers the newest addition to the bestselling series The Washington Post calls “literate, lyrical, funny, funky, discursive, ...

$26.00  $0.48

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Updated: 12/01/2014, AngelaJohnson
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


CruiseReady on 06/03/2015

This review did its job, as it made me aware of, and more importantly, interested in, an author that I had been unaware of before. Your description of the recurring characters was particularly engaging.

DerdriuMarriner on 11/12/2014

burntchestnut, This series by Martha Grimes offers a nice respite from gory mysteries. I haven't read the last two installments. It's such a long-lived series that hopefully more installments are forthcoming, despite the recent mixed reviewes.

Digby_Adams on 09/28/2014

I love this series. I have read each of the books. Even when the plots are disappointing, the characters never are. It's like catching up with old friends!

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