Martha Grimes Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Martha Grimes’s mysteries, despite their familiar British surroundings and English eccentrics, defy the usual categorization. Her plots partake of the best of many schools—amateur sleuth, police procedural, psychological study, private investigator—without succumbing to the limitations of any given type. This rare versatility is largely the result of two strategies: the pairing of a Scotland Yard detective with an aristocratic amateur sleuth and a sustained attention to atmosphere.

The two detectives—Detective Superintendent Richard Jury and Melrose Plant—are idealizations from different worlds, a slightly oddball team containing one man from the metropolis and one from the country. Grimes’s control of the atmosphere in which these two operate has the mark of an exceptional talent. Not a single detail is without design. The novel titles drawn from pub names (her trademark), the poetic imagery, the alternation of delicious humor and somber apprehensions, and the rolling montage technique—all combine to produce Grimes’s uniquely wrought mysteries.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Campbell, Mary. “Grimes’ Dust Nothing to Sneeze At.” Review of Dust, by Martha Grimes. Sunday Gazette-Mail, April 8, 2007, p. 5F. This Jury and Plant series novel looks at the murder of a wealthy heir in his thirties that involves secrets from World War II. The reviewer finds the novel entertaining.

Grimes, Martha. “Killing Time with Martha Grimes: Mystery Writer Reflects on Twenty-five Years with Jury.” Interview by Oline H. Cogdill. The Ottawa Citizen, April 9, 2006, p. C7. Grimes talks about writing a series and her series character Jury’s age and lack of luck in love.

Grimes, Martha. Martha http:// The authorized Web site offers a biography, bibliography, and links to mystery sites.

Klein, Kathleen Gregory, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Contains an essay describing the life and works of Grimes.

Knight, Stephen. Crime Fiction, 1800-2000: Detection, Death, Diversity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Offers in-depth discussions of gender, puzzle cases, and the English influence on American writers, such as Martha Grimes, in detective fiction.

Lindsay, Elizabeth Blakesley, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers. 2d ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007. Contains an essay on Grimes that examines her life and works.

Strafford, Jay. “Emma Graham, Girl Detective, Returns.” Review of Belle Ruin, by Martha Grimes. Richmond Times-Dispatch, August 28, 2005, p. K3. In this Emma Graham series novel, Emma solves the mystery of the disappearance of the infant Fay Slade from a now abandoned resort hotel. Reviewer praises the believability of Grimes’s characters.