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Marilee J. Layman

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09:36 pm: The Richard Jury Series by Martha Grimes

The WashPost review of the most recent book, The Black Cat, sounded good so I got on the queue at the library and got it a few months later. I thought it was a great mystery and decided to read the 21 earlier books.

Richard Jury is a really good detective in New Scotland Yard. He can almost always solve murders and still have a personal life. The mysteries themselves are really good, but Grimes has added way too many tropes through books. It's as if she had a button that would drop a paragraph into the manuscript. Some of the things that turn up in many books: a man rubbing his thumbnail across his forehead, a woman crying with a handkerchief in her sleeve that she takes to her mouth, boys have dogs, girls have cats, girls up to teens can sit on a rock or bench or tree branch and bend her head over backwards, a woman in a nursing home because she can't teach piano anymore due to her rheumatic arthritis. More and more, but those were the worst.

All of the books have some copyediting problems, but the one that is fourth from the end had at least 50. The funny thing about that book is that someone corrected two of them in pen. They took an extra word out of a sentence (the kind where you reorganize a sentence and don't take all the original extra words out) and changed a homonym. I don't know if they didn't see the others or not. That book was also the worst as to problems with continuity and mixing up names.

The last few books led right from one into the next -- in one pair, a sentence at the end of the earlier book is answered by a sentence at the beginning of the later book.

I decided to reread the last book, first I'd read, to see if I was misled into the books by seeing just that one or it if really was good. It really was good. There were a couple of the repetitive tropes, but the rest was very fresh and new. The last half or so of the book list are from Viking so I don't know if they hired a better copyeditor or what.

If I knew then what I know now, after reading the latest book, I would just wait to see if I like the next. The earlier ones weren't bad with the mystery or structure, but the writing drove me nuts.

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