I thoroughly enjoyed this.
If I were a truly dedicated mystery reader, I might have been bothered by all the side stories, for there were a lot of them. Jury's romance, and Plant's lack thereof. The courtroom shenanigans of barristers, solicitors, and the wanna-bes. Aunt Agatha and the Long Pidd denizens were like old friends I hadn't seen in a long time.
Oh, yes, and the murder. Or murders, I should say.
Although I liked Ruth Rendell's The Babes in the Wood, I felt the resolution was a little too much after the fact. Here, however, Grimes held virtually nothing back. All the information was there for the right person to put it together.
Two women are killed. One is a well-known beauty who is almost universally disliked. The other is an unattractive servant who is almost universally ignored. One is shot; two weeks later the other strangled. The local police inspector, one Arthur Bannen, has only circumstantial evidence, but it all points to a woman Scotland Yard's Richard Jury has more than a passing interest in.
In an attempt to collect additional information, Jury enlists his friend Melrose Plant to pose as an antiques appraiser. Plant, the wealthy former earl, is none to eager but he agrees to learn just enough about a few important pieces. He has no idea how valuable that knowledge will become, or how it will impact people who have absolutely nothing to do with the murder investigation.
I like reading about people I can care about. Even though this is the first Grimes novel I've read in close to 20 years, I still felt as though I knew these characters. Sgt. Wiggins with his allergies, Aunt Agatha with her . . . designs. I enjoyed spending some time with them again.
Did I figure out who the murderer was? Oh, toward the end I did, when a little bit more information was made available and a few people let some things slip. But I'm not one of those who has a need to solve the case before the end of the book. I'm content reading and discovering right along with the characters.