Crime Novel Excerpts – The Stargazey

Almost finished with Martha Grimes’ The Stargazey (1998), featuring Richard Jury, Scotland Yard Chief Inspector, and Melrose Plant, Jury’s wealthy and perspicacious, friend:

“‘Of course, having been married four times myself, I can tell you it’s a good thing to have an understanding right from the start that you’ll leave one another alone.’

“Melrose took the receiver from his ear and looked at it. Then he said, ‘Diane, doesn’t that rather defeat the purpose?’

“‘What purpose? …'”

“‘You belong to one of those men’s clubs?’ [Jury asks]

“‘Why is that so awful? I’m not out shooting orphans, for heaven’s sake.’ [Melrose answers]

“‘It’s so bloody unlike you is why.’

“‘Why is it so unlike me to sit around in an armchair drinking port and reading the Times? What do you think I do all day, march off to work the early shift at the canning factory?'”

Melrose was enjoying his companion [Simeon Pitt]; it was a conversation begun in medias res, a style of presentation he’d always liked, … for it meant that small talk had already been dispensed with, given that the conversation began in the middle, and in the middle of something the speaker had feelings about.”

“Melrose smiled his special smile, the one he was not wholly conscious he had, but it was as fetching as the smile of a very young child. It was, like the work of Matisse, Vuillard, and van Gogh, the real thing on offer. It invited you in.”

“Given her apparent disregard for him, Melrose could only assume she had come into the room to inspect him.”

“Cutlery clattered, glassware tinkled, napkins snapped. Melrose always thought these to be comforting sounds.”


“‘Yes?’ He had always disliked the practice of people shouting through rooms.

“‘Oh, never mind.’ The exasperated tone suggested Agatha had been beseeching him for hours to do something, only to be met with his cold refusal.

“‘All right, I won’t.'”


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