From Publishers Weekly
Man walked into a pub." This line, delivered with a droll inflection by reader John Lee, is the perfect opening for Martha Grimes's latest entry in her Inspector Jury series. Harry Johnson enters the Old Wine Shades pub and recounts to Jury the strange tale of a mother and son who disappeared nine months ago, along with their dog, Mungo. At first Jury finds the story more amusing than ominous, but as more details are revealed his curiosity is piqued, and he feels compelled to investigate the disappearances. What he discovers is that nothing, including the agreeable Johnson, is what it seems. Grimes builds a captivating mystery with plenty of twists and quirky characters to keep the listener engaged, and Lee's controlled performance fits nicely with her eclectic, character-driven storytelling. Lee's characterizations are presented with a dignified, no frills aplomb, which isn't easy given that they include the inner thoughts of an autistic child and the dog, Mungo. In fact, the scenes featuring Mungo supply some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, as well as some of the novel's most intense suspense. Jury fans will not be disappointed.
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The Richard Jury series (this is the twentieth installment) is known for having an English pub in some sort of starring or supporting role, reflected in the title. In the latest, the pub of the title is the setting for a very long pub tale that sounds for all the world like a shaggy dog story. A man in the pub, with a shaggy dog at his feet, tells Jury (for unknown reasons, except sociability) about a friend of his whose wife, son, and dog all disappeared nine months previously. The clincher to the story is that the dog came back. New Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Jury lets the man (a physicist whose disappeared friend is also a physicist) talk for three nights about the disappearance. Jury gets drawn into investigating the case, which he mostly doubts, until a body turns up. Very improbable and creaky but still certain to be of interest to loyal Jury fans. Connie Fletcher
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