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The Black Cat: A Richard Jury Mystery (Richard Jury Mysteries) Audio CD – Audiobook, April 6, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 157 customer reviews
Book 22 of 22 in the Richard Jury Mysteries Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of bestseller Grimes's muddled 22nd Richard Jury mystery (after Dust), the body of an unidentified woman, who reminds Jury of a Pre-Raphaelite beauty, lies in a mortuary in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Shot outside the Black Cat, a local pub, the victim was wearing expensive clothes, decorous yet sexy. The Thames Valley police wonder why Jury, a Scotland Yard superintendent, is intruding on their turf. The victim proves to have been a professional escort, the only witness to her murder the pub's black cat. Cats and dogs can share their thoughts, mostly mundane, with one another, but, alas, not with humans. More escorts get killed. Unresolved cases from Dust and its predecessor, Old Wine Shades, complicate the plot to little purpose. Off-kilter details jar. No London copper would ask a London cabbie if the cabbie knows a particular street. This subpar effort from one of mystery's major stars will appeal mainly to fans of the talking animal subgenre. 8-city author tour.(Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Many reviewers felt obliged to note that a Martha Grimes novel requires a taste both for the British "cozy" mystery and Britain's particular brand of tongue-in-cheek humor. But it was a taste that all those critics seemed to share; Patrick Anderson of the Washington Post wrote that he would gladly set down more superficially thrilling fare for any of Grimes's books. While some critics raised eyebrows at some of Grimes's odder touches (like the telepathic color commentary by the local dog and cats) and plot twists, all of them recommended The Black Cat and the rest of the Richard Jury series to new readers. Meanwhile, they hinted that longtime fans should be satisfied with how Grimes ties up certain loose ends from previous books. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Richard Jury Mysteries
  • Audio CD: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio; Unabridged edition (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142427969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142427965
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,709,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. Burns VINE VOICE on April 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jury is less than pleased to be assigned a case outside his district - a case that's already making the tabloid headlines. A beautiful young woman working as an escort is found murdered outside a pub called The Black Cat. Two more `escort' murders, this time in London, follow and Jury struggles to make a connection between the crimes.

I liked the premise and the set-up of the story. Unfortunately, after that it was pretty much downhill for me.

Early on in the book I was dismayed to find myself back at `The Old Wine Shades'. Yep, Harry Johnson figures prominently in this book. Back again to those boring, circuitous conversations between Jury and Harry. Countless references to the murder that Jury is convinced Harry committed. I disliked `The Old Wine Shades' so much that I've blessedly forgotten the storyline and the author's efforts to remind me in this book weren't very successful. I don't share the author's affection for Harry's character but it seems she's determined to make him a recurring character in this series.

Nothing about the story flowed gracefully. There's a scene with Melrose and Jury in Long Piddleton that seemed like an afterthought; an awkward effort to acknowledge the series `regulars'. A couple chapters dedicated to an animal rescue. A silly and distracting chapter detailing the telepathic communication between Harry's dog, Mungo, and a kidnapped cat. Overall it felt choppy and disjointed.

On the plus side, this entry brings back Jury as we've come to know him over the years - melancholy, introspective and intelligent. Melrose makes only a minor appearance, but a scene that takes place at his club, Boring's, is very entertaining.

What can I say?
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Format: Hardcover
I would follow Richard Jury and Melrose Plant anywhere they want to go, so I approach a new book in this series with delighted anticipation. I've never been disappointed and The Black Cat is no exception. Long time Jury readers will not be confused by the shorthand banter and whimsical asides we've come to appreciate. Jury's poetic melancholy is still in place; you can feel how profoundly weary he is, and no wonder. Obsession can knock the stuffing out of a person, and his love affair and subsequent tragedy with Lu has worn Jury down to an exposed nerve. Obsession runs through this mystery like the Thames through London, whether it involves sex, shoes, mothers, rescuing victims, or a festering grudge against an old nemesis with telepathic pets. The whodunit part is tricky enough to satisfy, and although we don't spend much time with our friends in Long Piddleton, it's reassuring to know Melrose Plant is still living with one foot in a Great Britain that no longer exists (if it ever did). Long time fans will find much to love in this latest Jury, and hopefully new readers will want to go back through 22 books to see where it all began. Note: I was disappointed not to have a Kindle version as well, but am pretty sure Martha Grimes has no control over what her publisher chooses to do. If books don't sell because of bad Amazon reviews given in protest it's ultimately the author who is hurt most.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I used to eagerly await every Martha Grimes novel featuring Richard Jury. No more. Apparently recognizing that her last book's Harry Johnson shaggy dog story was a disaster, she spends most of her most recent book trying to "fix" the shaggy dog story. She does so by having Jury and Johnson drink gallons of wine, while recapping the shaggy dog story, essentially replaying the incredibly boring stuff from her last novel. Even worse, she then morphs the shaggy dog story into a shaggy cat story. The dog and 3 cats talk to one another. Yes, chapter after chapter of pet conversations, as if this murder investigation was intended for 6 year olds! Finally, this book is not a whodunnit. The reader will spot the killer in the first 20 minutes. That is a blessing, since it gives the reader a chance to quit reading before reaching several chapters of pet chatter.
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Format: Hardcover
If I hadn't read other books by Martha Grimes I might have rated this three stars. But I know how good she can be and this one just doesn't meet her usual standard. Most of the regular characters are there--Richard Jury, Melrose Plant, Carol-anne and the gang in Long Piddleton -- but it doesn't jell. I found I didn't care about the murder victims and had trouble telling them apart. The requisite cute girl wasn't very cute, the usual dogs and cats talked (yes, really) and, most important, the mystery wasn't interesting. I don't usually identify the villain in mysteries, but this one stood out from the very beginning so I found myself irritated that Jury couldn't see whodunit.

In short, a really disappointing outing for Martha Grimes and Richard Jury.
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As has happened with several of her recent Jury novels, I find myself as I am reading trying to figure out not "who-done-it" but rather "who-wrote-it"? Characters whose identities are well-established after decades on the literary scene are all of a sudden saying & thinking things antithetical to their identities -- not through what seems to be a careful evolution of personality, but through what seems like a shoddy fan-fiction writing exercise. It feels like Grimes came up with a plot and maybe wrote a few scenes, and then used them as a prompt for farming out chapters to other writers; upon receiving them, it seems, she strung them together and sent them in to the publisher without editing. (Melrose referring to an "army of elves" taking over Ardry End? Wiggins telling Jury "Don't be daft." Jury saying to Wiggins one chapter later, "Don't be daft, Wiggins!" Constant use of the phrase "there's no joy." Who imported these overtly-heavy-handed Britishisms and non-characteristic cutesy statements into Grimes' style? And why is Danny Wu's restaurant all of a sudden called Ruiya instead of Ruiyi, as it has been in the past 20 or 21 books?)

I'm only half-way through "The Black Cat", and I will finish it. I'll probably read future Jury ones. But, more and more, I'm coming to approach them with trepidation, wondering if I'll find them a reliable, good read and expecting to be disappointed, rather than eagerly anticipating their appearance.
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