Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes

GrimesVertigo42Why I Read It: Have enjoyed her other works.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Cozy mystery fans.

Narrator: Steve West

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 11 hours 49 minutes

Series: Book 23 Richard Jury

Author’s Page

Note: Although this is Book 23 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

A well off widower, Tom Williamson, wants the death of his wife, Tess, reopened. He seeks out Richard Jury’s help. Of course the death was 9 years ago and it was ruled an accident. There’s very little for Jury to go on. But there is this vague connection to a death of a child that happened at the same house a few years before Tess’s death. As Jury starts to dig into these two deaths, both ruled accidents, yet two more deaths occur in the nearby village. Oh, and there is this dog who appears lost but who might actually know more than the humans.

Vertigo 42 is a spritzy bar on the 42 floor of some fancy building in some fancy part of London. Plus the name of the bar keeps the idea of vertigo in the reader’s mind, which is important since Tess supposedly died due to falling, which was due to her vertigo. Tom Williamson comes off as a decent chap and Jury is drawn into the tale of his wife. When Jury consults Macalvie, he becomes even more interested. The child who died a few years before Tess was not was liked by her peers, since she was a bully and a bit of a terror. Questions abound concerning the child’s death, and those questions lead to the question: was Tess murdered for some supposed part in the child’s death or did she commit suicide in some depressed fog?

This murder mystery was quite fun to puzzle out, with the two deaths of the past and the two in Jury’s present. At first they don’t appear to be connected, and for a good quarter of the book I thought Jury might have two separate mysteries to work out. Even after it becomes clear that all the deaths are linked, it was quite fun to see how they were linked.

Jury, of course, is wonderful mind to ride around in, but I especially enjoyed his interactions with the gruff Macalvie.  Macalvie doesn’t pull his punches, tells it how he sees it. Plus he had a personal connection to one of the deceased, so we got to see a little more of his softer side.

And then there was the stray dog Stanley. Jury came upon the dog and rescued him, taking him to some of his friends who live in the ‘country’. Well, they have one cow and one cow is better than no cow. But the new owners have some funny rule that all animals on the farm have to have a name that start with a certain syllable (which I have forgotten). But it made me think of all those families that decide to names their kids with names that start with the same letter (Paca, Padraic, Pedr, Perele, etc.). Of course, Stanley only responds to his name, and hence, only to Jury.

There was plenty of food in this book, something that I always enjoy, but yet can be a pleasant torture if I am hard at work and thinking about food. Wiggins (the ever congested) was treated to some very tasty cheesecake. Over all, I think I enjoyed this mystery the most of the few Jury books I have read. It was complicated, but not so entangled a reader would have trouble following it. My favorite characters got to play nicely together. My only complaint is that we have so few females playing important roles in the story. There were several females in minor roles – love interests, witnesses, the dead, etc. But none of them get to run around helping Jury out.

The Narration: Steve West once again did a great job.  I still enjoy his gruff Macalvie the most. Also the congested Wiggins is always fun to listen to.

What I Liked: The mystery was indeed a real mystery in this episode of Jury’s life; plenty of featured food; Stanley the dog.

What I Disliked: The ladies are window dressing.

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