American author, most famous for the Richard Jury mystery series. She grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and western Maryland, but somewhere along the line became a dedicated Anglophile. Her Richard Jury books are old-fashioned British murder mysteries, set in England and each named after a real English pub, although recent books have been set in Ireland and the United Sates as well.
Grimes’ mysteries are tautly written, full of an unmistakeable British flavor, and often darkly humorous. Since she writes British mysteries, it’s nearly impossible not to compare her to Agatha Christie, which Grimes herself admits:
"Every woman who writes a British mystery gets compared to Agatha Christie. She's an absolutely brilliant plotter and incredible when it comes to drawing clues across the page. However, her characters, you feel, are there for the sake of the plot."
--People Magazine, February 2, 1987
--Martha Grimes’ home page, http://www.marthagrimes.com/html/on.html
And it’s Grimes’ characters who really make her books worth reading, not her plots (which sometimes stray a bit for the sake of the characters). Richard Jury is a reticent but charming Scotland Yard superintendent, slightly dark, slightly brooding, and with devastating grey eyes. He teams up with Melrose Plant, a handsome Earl who has done the unthinkable--given up his aristocratic title (out of boredom, no less). Not only that, but he fills out the London Times crossword in pen. Other colorful characters include Sergeant Wiggins, Jury’s hypochondriac assistant, and Aunt Agatha, Melrose’s money-grubbing, corpulent old aunt. The characters zing and have lives of their own, never feeling like plot-filler.
All in all, Grimes’ books are clever (they don’t insult the reader’s intelligence like some other pulp mystery authors out there), classy, and addictive.
Richard Jury/Melrose Plant mysteries (in publication order):
Sources: http://www.marthagrimes.com and amazon.com