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The Old Wine Shades: A Richard Jury Novel    by Martha Grimes Amazon.com order for
Old Wine Shades
by Martha Grimes
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

A man walks into a bar and spins a tale for Superintendent Richard Jury that is beyond belief. Harry Johnson contends that his friend's wife, child and dog disappeared almost a year before, never to be seen again. Except that ... the dog, a bloodhound named Mungo, returned.

The title, The Old Wine Shades follows Martha Grimes' proclivity for naming her books after pubs although this one is a wine bar with a very knowledgeable barman. For three nights, Johnson weaves his story for Jury expounding on parallel universes and other dimensions, ten in all. The theory is lost on me, but the story is spellbinding.

The lost child is autistic but managed to befriend a young girl who is unique in her own way. The dog Mungo is a great deal of fun as we see inside his head as he constantly hides a newborn kitten. And, of course, there's Cyril, the New Scotland Yard cat who constantly harasses Jury's boss.

A body suddenly surfaces and Jury's detecting skills are called for. We have brief encounters with his tenant Carole-Ann and the irascible Agatha, Melrose Plant's acquisitive aunt. Melrose and the gang at the home pub are a delight. The tale ends but is not over. Grimes leaves the back door open for a return of Harry Johnson. Grimes is at her best once again in The Old Wine Shades. Can she write any other way?

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