cover image The Old Wine Shades

The Old Wine Shades

Martha Grimes, , read by John Lee. . Penguin Audio, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-14-305845-8

Man walked into a pub." This line, delivered with a droll inflection by reader John Lee, is the perfect opening for Martha Grimes's latest entry in her Inspector Jury series. Harry Johnson enters the Old Wine Shades pub and recounts to Jury the strange tale of a mother and son who disappeared nine months ago, along with their dog, Mungo. At first Jury finds the story more amusing than ominous, but as more details are revealed his curiosity is piqued, and he feels compelled to investigate the disappearances. What he discovers is that nothing, including the agreeable Johnson, is what it seems. Grimes builds a captivating mystery with plenty of twists and quirky characters to keep the listener engaged, and Lee's controlled performance fits nicely with her eclectic, character-driven storytelling. Lee's characterizations are presented with a dignified, no frills aplomb, which isn't easy given that they include the inner thoughts of an autistic child and the dog, Mungo. In fact, the scenes featuring Mungo supply some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, as well as some of the novel's most intense suspense. Jury fans will not be disappointed. Simultaneous release with the Viking hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 30). (Mar.)