Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Help the Poor Struggler by Martha Grimes (1985)


About the author: This is #7 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.

Synopsis: A series of four child murders has Scotland Yard anxious for a solution. Division Commander Brian Macalvie is after Superintendent Richard Jury to get it solved now. The four murders all have slim connections to the wealthy widower Robert Ashcroft. Ashcroft has been caring for his niece, ten year old Lady Jessica Mary Allan-Ashcroft (as she prefers to call herself) after the death of her parents. Ashcroft had been in Australia previously with his brother Jimmy. Jury suspects something is amiss and is concerned that Jessica could be next. 

Jury looks at three mysteries:
  1. Is Richard Jury really Richard, or his brother Jimmy? Jessica is the sole heiress to his fortune, and none of the current house staff knew Richard prior to his time in Australia.
  2. Is Molly Singer, the woman who found one of the bodies, really Molly Singer - or is she Mary Mulvanney, who has a long time grudge against Brian Macalvie?
  3. Who has the motive for the killings? Is it someone in the Ashcroft orbit, or could it be Sam Waterhouse, recently released from Dartmoor and hanging around?
Review: This one was quite somber for the first half with the series of child murders. I was looking for something lighter with a lot of Melrose Plant / Aunt Agatha repartée, but Melrose does not appear until halfway through, and Aunt Agatha only mentioned briefly.

The character of Division Commander Brian Macalvie was a puzzle, he started out being take-charge-nasty to everyone but then chums up to Jury in a rather abrupt change.

As always, I enjoyed the Scotland Yard office scenes with Chief Superintendent Racer, saucy tease Fiona Clingmore, and Cyril the cat.

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