Books: Notable Help the Poor Struggler

by Martha Grimes Little, Brown; 225 pages; $15.95

Martha Grimes is an American mystery writer who up till now has forsworn the traditional metier of her countrymen, the novel of action, in favor of dead-on English-village mysteries of the kind wrought by Britons a half-century ago. Her seven novels have all been named for actual pubs, most of them in the English countryside, and until Help the Poor Struggler they have involved a quirky trio: a stereotypically literary, sensitive bachelor detective from Scotland Yard, a fey, scholarly nobleman who has eccentrically given up his titles, and, usually, the nobleman's meddling, Wodehousian aunt. That arch setup proved charming in her...

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