The Blue Last

Grimes, Martha

Published by NAL, 2002
ISBN 10: 0451410556 / ISBN 13: 9780451410559
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Synopsis: In The Blue Last, Richard Jury finally faces the last thing in the world he wants to deal with—the war that killed his mother, his father, his childhood. Mickey Haggerty, a DCI with the London City police, has asked for Jury's help. Two skeletons have been unearthed in the City during the excavation of London's last bombsite, where once a pub stood called the The Blue Last. Mickey believes that a child who survived the bombing has been posing for over fifty years as a child who didn't. The grandchild of brewery magnet Oliver Tyndale supposedly survived that December 1940 bombing . . . but did she? Mickey also has a murder to solve. Simon Croft, prosperous City financial broker, and son of the one-time owner of The Blue Last is found shot to death in his Thames-side house. But the book he was writing about London during the German blitzkrieg has disappeared.

Jury wants to get eyes and ears into Tynedale Lodge, and looks to his friend, Melrose Plant, to play the role. Reluctantly, Plant plays it, accompanied on his rounds of the Lodge gardens by nine-year-old Gemma Trim, orphan and ward of Oliver Tynedale; and Benny Keagan, a resourceful twelve-year-old orphaned delivery boy.

And Richard Jury may not make it out alive.

A stolen book, stolen lives, or is any of this what it seems? Identity, memory, provenance - these are all called into question in The Blue Last

Review: Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury returns in a compelling novel, the 17th in Grimes's long-running series. Mickey Haggerty, Jury's old friend and colleague, is dying of cancer. So Jury can hardly refuse his request to look into what Mickey suspects is a 50-year-old case of switched identities. It surfaces when the last World War II bomb site in London is excavated for a new development, exposing the skeletal remains of a woman and infant. Mickey thinks the dead infant wasn't the baby of Kitty Riordan, Maisie Tynedale's nanny, as Kitty claimed, but was Maisie herself, the heiress to a brewery fortune. Did Kitty engineer the masquerade? And did Simon Croft, who was writing a book about London in the war years, discover it? When Croft is killed and his computer stolen, Jury sends his pal Melrose Plant to snoop around Tynedale Lodge disguised as a gardener. There he encounters a charming trio of amateurs: a homeless urchin and his extremely clever dog Sparky, and Gemma, a Tynedale ward whose mysterious background may hold the clue to Simon's murder as well as the still unsolved attempt on her young life.

As usual, Plant's world of eccentric friends and relatives is nicely evoked in a subplot that leads him on a surprising holiday in Florence, during which he acquires just enough knowledge of Italian Renaissance painting to pull off another disguise on Jury's behalf. Grimes weaves the threads of this rich tapestry together in a surprise ending that not even Grimes aficionados will sense coming. But it's an appropriate conclusion, given the book's brooding tone, established in the opening pages by a dying friend's obsession and sustained as the investigation forces Jury to confront his own haunted memories of the war. This is a solid page turner, marked by Grimes's unerring sense of pacing, respectful but provocative poking around in Jury's soul, and topnotch storytelling ability. --Jane Adams

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Title: The Blue Last
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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