cover image The Deer Leap

The Deer Leap

Martha Grimes. Little Brown and Company, $15.95 (236pp) ISBN 978-0-316-32886-9

This is the seventh crime novel by Grimes, an American who writes wih assurance on the exploits of Scotland Yard's Richard Jury and his titled friend Malcolm Plant. They meet at The Deer Leap, a pub in Ashdown Dean where people and pets have been dying ""accidentally.'' Plant focuses his attentions on a solitary, 15-year-old girl who calls herself Carrie Fleet. She's an amnesiac, rescued from London lowlifes who had found the child and were using her to collect government money for her support. Carrie's unlikely savior is a baroness, living on drunken fantasies in the decayed splendor of her late husband's estate. In an isolated corner of the grounds, Carrie maintains a sanctuary for abused animals. Her zealous care makes her a suspect in the destruction of the local fox-hunting headquarters, but Jury casts his net elsewhere. In the last act of the witty and deeply moving drama, retribution for heinous crime is exacted. Here gentle Plant plays a role so utterly unexpected that readers will feel its impact for a long time. November 26