MARTHA GRIMES – The Black Cat. Viking, hardcover, April 2010. Reprint paperback: Signet, February 2011.

   Superintendent Richard Jury is called in by the Thames Valley Police when a woman is found shot to death in the outdoor seating area of a pub called The Black Cat in Chesham.


   The woman is identified as Mariah Cox, a local librarian, but she was found wearing designer clothes and very expensive shoes and with her hair dyed as if she was attending a party given by the local hoi polloi being held that night.

   It’s soon discovered she was leading a double life: during the week a librarian engaged to the local florist, on the weekends, usually spent in London, a highly paid professional escort using the name Stacy Storm. Which woman was the intended victim?

   Jury discovers that one of the guests at the party was Harry Johnson, a man Jury knows but cannot prove is a murderer. Jury knows that Harry is the sort of man who might commit murder just to get under Jury’s skin. Did he commit this one?

   Meanwhile, the little girl whose aunt is working at The Black Cat claims that her black cat has been kidnapped and replaced by another black cat and wants Jury to find it.

   Then another escort, Kate Banks, is shot to death in London. Though two different guns were used, Jury is convinced the killings are connected. Then a third escort is murdered.

   It’s a satisfying and well done mystery for the fans of Grimes’ Jury series except for a couple of drawbacks. Steve Lewis said in his review of The Case Is Altered that if you don’t start by reading Grimes’ Jury series from the beginning you won’t know the background of some of the recurring characters who, again, make an appearance in this novel.

   The other drawback is that several chapters are devoted to a dog and cat communicating with each other, so be warned if that sort of thing irritates you.