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The last book or two in the series have seemed transitional in some ways, from the earlier books which were richly populated by all the eccentric characters from Long Piddleton and provided some comic relief in places during the crime detection. This book is almost all about Richard Jury (from Scotland Yard), his sidekick Sgt Wiggins, and an Inspector from another jurisdiction, Brian Macalvie. Melrose Plant plays a minor role, and the Long Piddleton characters meet briefly in the Jack and Hammer pub, so that we don't forget about them, but this is really a more serious and intense book than the earlier ones. There is both interesting tension among the characters who have experienced three recent murders and the haunting memory of one twenty years before for which the wrong person might have been convicted. The recent murders occur when he is getting out of prison.
As usual, Grimes has used a pub as the title of her book, "HelpThe Poor Struggler," and this name may be said to sort of speak to the general situation, but doesn't play a central role in the book, except that Jury, Wiggins and Macalvie meet there to discuss the case. Here are three seemingly unrelated child murders and they must hurry to solve the case before another child gets murdered, in this case, the precocious Lady Jessica Ashcroft.
I felt this book was an improvement from her last, but still greatly miss the lighter-hearted early books, where there was still Richard Jury, Who did more with Melrose Plant and his team of quirky friends. There was nice tension-reducing in that. However, this looks like a transition into more serious crime solving. Her most recent books (notwithstanding that they were all written in the 1980's), but recent in terms of where in the series they are placed, seem to be her effort to have less involvement of the silly characters and more straightforward mystery solving. I rather miss the Long Piddleton group, but know this is her own maturation as a writer most likely. I enjoy hearing this old series, which I read in the 80's. They are each a treat. Recommend.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Help the Poor Struggler again? Why?
Yes, I would. I like the Martha Grimes mysteries. Having read most of them years ago, I particularly enjoy listening. In this book the heavy-drinking crowd at the Jack and Hammer do not play as big a role, though Melrose does come into the plot--always a good addition. The plot and resolution (particularly the resolution) are a tad fragile, but my belief is that readers take to Grimes' novels for the atmosphere and character development. She is particularly good at creating unusual personalities in children.
What other book might you compare Help the Poor Struggler to and why?
This book is similar to any of the Richard Jury mysteries, though the crimes are a bit grimmer.
What about Steve West’s performance did you like?
As with any good reader, he performs superbly and inhabits the characters. I never feel jarred by his interpretations.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No. I prefer enjoying this type of mystery over several days, while walking the dog or driving.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful