The Horse You Came in On

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In THE HORSE YOU CAME IN ON, twelfth in the Jury series, the Superintendent of Scotland Yard is needed yet again, this time on foreign soil.

Though technically on holiday, the Superintendent allows his obnoxious boss to persuade him to travel to Baltimore, Maryland to look into the murder of a British-born man. The victim was an acquaintance of an old friend of Jury’s, Lady Cray, and he feels compelled to come to her assistance.

Inspector Wiggins and Melrose Plant, regulars in the series, accompany Jury to America, where they join forces with another familiar character, novelist Ellen Taylor. Separately, and together, they travel around town, encountering memorable characters and valuable details, and then meet at a pub, the Horse You Came In On, to discuss them.

A pivotal clue is a newly discovered manuscript by Edgar Allan Poe unearthed by a colleague of Taylor’s, Beverly Brown. Brown was recently murdered in the churchyard where Poe is buried. As the sleuths delve into the manuscript, they become intrigued by the idea that it may help them solve their present-day murders.

THE HORSE YOU CAME IN ON deviates from the previous Jury novels by placing the central characters in America. This unsettling change is bracketed by several scenes in England, including Jury’s home, the Jack and Hammer (the local pub), and his office. The ancillary characters the reader has come to love, laugh at, and expect are given short shrift in this latest installment.

While it is understandable that the author would want to expand her horizons, THE HORSE YOU CAME IN ON may be a disappointment to many aficionados of the Richard Jury series, who relish its familiar British ambience.