Twenty-two years ago - at a children's party at the home of Tess Williamson - young Hilda Palmer was found dead at the bottom of an empty swimming pool. No charges were filed but Hilda's mother held Tess responsible. Five years later Tess was found dead at the the bottom of a steep staircase. The general consensus was that her vertigo resulted in a fatal fall.
In the present day, Tess's husband Tom - thinking his wife's death was no accident - asks Detective Superintendent Richard Jury to look into the case. Meanwhile, other recent deaths come to Jury's attention: a beautiful blonde in a designer dress and shoes dies of a 'fall' from a tower; and an unidentified man who was looking for a lost dog is found shot. As usual in Martha Grimes books Jury's friends in Northamptonshire - Melrose Plant and his cohorts - get involved in Jury's investigations; there are also two 'found' dogs in the tale, Joey and Stanley.
During their investigations, Jury and his tea-loving assistant Sergeant Wiggins question everyone who was at the party where Hilda died. They learn that Hilda was a bully, disliked by children and adults alike. They also discover some possible links behind the recent deaths of the blonde and the dog-lover with those of Hilda and Tess.
The movie "Vertigo" and the books "A Passage to India" and "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" keep popping into Jury's mind as he looks into the cases, which seem to provide him with clues to the crimes.
The plot meanders and the resolution of the cases seems unlikely but it's fun to visit with the familiar, well-liked characters in the series. An okay book to pass some time.
Rating: 3 stars