Monday, February 15, 2021

The Anodyne Necklace by Martha Grimes (1983)

About the author: This is #3 of 25 books featuring Richard Jury. See this Wikipedia article for biography and list of the 25 Richard Jury books. Click this Martha Grimes label to see all my reviews of this series.

Major characters:
  • Sir Miles Bodenheim, titled, and damn proud of it
  • Sylvia Bodenheim, his wife, and damn proud of it
  • Derek Bodenheim, their son, and damn proud of it
  • Julia Bodenheim, their daughter, the only normal one
  • Augusta Craigie, cat collector
  • Ernestine Craigie, bird watcher
  • Emily Louise Perk, age 10, going on 30
  • Polly Praed, mystery writer
  • Mary O'Brien, pub owner
  • Katie O'Brien, her violin-playing daughter
  • Cora Binns, the first victim
  • Freddie Mainwaring, estate agent
  • Ramona Wey, Mainwaring's Other Woman
  • Supt. Richard Jury
  • Melrose Plant
  • Sgt. Wiggins
  • Peter Gere, constable
Locale: Littlebourne village, near London

Synopsis: In the village of Littlebourne there is a swampy section, Horndean Wood, which is home to lots of birds - attracting the Royal Bird Watchers, led by Ernestine Craigie. One day she finds, not a bird, but a body of a young woman - later identified as Cora Binns of London. The body has had the fingers separated from the left hand.

At the same time, a 16 year old girl from Littlebourne, Katie O'Brien, is busking in the London subway with her violin, and hit from behind; leaving her in a coma.

Superintendent Richard Jury comes in to assist constable Peter Gere. The two incidents have a few curious connections, leading back to a year-old burglary of an emerald necklace from a local estate. Jury and his friend Melrose Plant make the acquaintance of 10 year old Emily Louise Perk, who knows all and sees all. A prime intelligence source is The Anodyne Necklace Pub, owned by Katie's mother Mary O'Brien. The locals gather for a long running role-playing game, Wizards and Warlords.

Review: I am working my way through the series, and in this #3 Melrose Plant and Richard Jury are complementary in their ability to ferret out information - Melrose uses his (formerly) titled experience to deal with the high-and-mighty while Jury sits in the pub with the locals. Melrose also knows how to deal with the other end of the spectrum (the Cripps family).

10-year old Emily Louise Perk is a star character, and has Jury and Plant eating out her hand as she "sells" them information bit by bit.

The parsimonious Bodenheim family is amusing in their grasping onto every pence of their peerage, the exact opposite of the dirty, cringeworthy, but generous slum-living Cripps family.

The Wizards and Warlords game story line shows the influence of the game of the (1983) time, Dungeons and Dragons. (What did people DO before video games? Play Dungeons and Dragons).

Aunt Agatha only makes a brief cameo at the beginning, which was OK, I can only take her in small quantities.

My favorite sentence: "There was a knocking, like doom, at the door."

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