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Authors: Martha Grimes

The Blue Last

BOOK: The Blue Last
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Table of Contents
 
 
 
 
 
RICHARD JURY NOVELS
The Man with a Load of Mischief
The Old Fox Deceived
The Anodyne Necklace
The Dirty Duck
Jerusalem Inn
Help the Poor Struggler
The Deer Leap
I Am the Only Running Footman
The Five Bells and Bladebone
The Old Silent
The Old Contemptibles
The Horse You Came In On
Rainbow's End
The Case Has Altered
The Stargazey
The Lamorna Wink
 
 
OTHER NOVELS BY MARTHA GRIMES
 
 
The End of the Pier
Hotel Paradise
Biting the Moon
The Train Now Departing
Cold Flat Junction
 
 
POETRY
 
 
Send Bygraves
VIKING
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane,
London W8 5TZ, England
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood,
Victoria, Australia
Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road,
Auckland 10, New Zealand
 
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:
Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England
 
First published in 2001 by Viking Penguin,
a member of Penguin Putnam Inc.
 
 
Copyright © Martha Grimes, 2001
All rights reserved
 
PUBLISHER'S NOTE
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either
are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events,
or locales is entirely coincidental.
 
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Grimes, Martha.
The blue last / Martha Grimes.
p. cm.
eISBN : 978-1-101-11843-6
1. Jury, Richard (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Police—England—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3557.R48998 B59 2001
813'.54—dc21 2001045433
 
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
 
 
 
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system,
or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of
both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

http://us.penguingroup.com

Good-bye, Blue
Dark hills at evening, in the west Where sunset hovers like a sound Of golden horns that sang to rest Old bones of warriors underground,
 
Far now from all the bannered ways Where flash the legions of the sun, You fade—as if the last of days Were fading, and all wars were done.
 
“The Dark Hills,”
E. A. Robinson
I
Remembrance Mile
One
“ ‘
P
oet,' it says, “ ‘died from stab of rose.' Must be a thorn that stabbed him. Who do you suppose that is?”
Richard Jury looked up and across at Sergeant Wiggins. “Rilke. What is that, the crossword? Rilke, if memory serves me.” Memory served up entirely too much. Jury sat reading a forensics report while Detective Sergeant Wiggins, seated at a desk across the room, was stirring up ever more esoteric means of dying. Wiggins was really into death, Jury remarked not for the first time. Or at least into the ills that flesh is heir to. Wiggins was heir to the lot, to hear him talk.
“Rilke?” said Wiggins. He counted the spaces. “That'd fit all right. You'd be a whiz at crosswords, knowing things like that.” He poured out the tea.
“That's the only thing I know like that.”
Wiggins was spooning in sugar, and, having dumped four teaspoonfuls into his own tea, started in on Jury's.
“One,” said Jury, not even looking up from his folder. Tea making in this office had achieved the status of ritual, one so long undertaken that Jury knew where Sergeant Wiggins was at every step. Perhaps it was the spoon clicking against the cup with each teaspoonful that sent out a signal.
“Was he hemophiliac, then, this Rilke?”
“Beats me.” Trust Wiggins to put it down to a disorder of blood or bone. A lengthy silence followed, during which Jury did look up to see Wiggins sitting with his hands wrapped around both mugs as he stared out of the window. “Is my mug going to grow little mug legs and walk over here on its own?”
Wiggins jumped. “Oh, sorry.” He rose and took Jury's tea to him, saying, when he'd returned to his own desk, “I just can't think of other blood conditions that would result in death from a rose-thorn prick.”
Lines of a poem came unbidden to Jury's mind:
O Rose, thou ar't sick.
The invisible worm . . .
William Blake. He wouldn't mention this to Wiggins. One rose death was enough for one morning.
Wiggins persisted. “A prick could cause that much blood to flow? I mean, the guy could hardly bleed out from it.” He frowned, drank his tea, kept on frowning. “I should know the answer to that.”
“Why? That's what police doctors are for. Call forensics if you're desperate.”
That flies in the night
In the howling storm . . .
Jury closed the file on skeletal remains and watched the slow-falling snow. Hardly enough to dampen the pavement, much less a ski slope. Well, had he planned on skiing in Islington? He could go to High Wycombe; they had all-season skiing around there. How depressing. In two weeks, Christmas would be here. More depressing. “You going to Manchester for Christmas, Wiggins?”
“To my sister and her brood, yes. You, sir?”
“You mean am I going to Newcastle? No.” That he would not go to his cousin (and
her
brood) filled him with such a delicious ease that he wondered if happiness lay not in doing but in not doing.
Wiggins appeared to be waiting for Jury to fill him in on his Christmas plans. If Newcastle was out, what then? When Jury didn't supply something better, Wiggins didn't delve. He just returned to death and its antidotes, a few bottles and vials of which were arranged on his desk. Wiggins looked them over, hit on the viscous pink liquid and squeezed several drops into a half glass of water, which he then swirled into thinner viscosity.
He said, “But we're on rota for Christmas, at least Christmas morning. I won't get to Manchester until dinnertime, probably.”
“Hell, just go ahead. I'll cover for you.”
Wiggins shook his head. “No, that wouldn't be fair, sir. No, I'll be here. Christmas can be hell on wheels for people deciding to bloody up other people. Just give some guy a holiday and he goes for a gun.”
Jury laughed. “True. Maybe we'll have time for a bang-up lunch at Danny Wu's on Christmas Day. He never closes on holidays.” Ruiyi was the best restaurant in Soho.
Then came silence and snow. Jury thought about a present for Wiggins. Some medical book, one that might define Rilke's “disease of the blood,” if that's what it was. A thorn prick.
O Rose, thou ar't sick.
He tried to remember the last four lines of this short poem, but couldn't.
Wiggins had gone back to the newspaper. “They're starting to clear the old Greenwich gasworks. To put up the dome, that millennium dome they're talking about.”
Jury didn't want to hear about it or talk about it. Wiggins loved the subject. “That's years away, Wiggins. Let's wait and be surprised.”
Wiggins regarded him narrowly, not knowing what to make of that runic comment.
Jury got up, pulled on his coat and picked up the folder which held Haggerty's report. “I'm going to the City; if you need me I'll be at Snow Hill police station with Mickey Haggerty.”
“All right.” Wiggins drank his pink stuff and turned toward the window. He said, as Jury was going out the door, “It sounds like something out of a fairy tale, almost.”
“What does? The millennium dome?”
“No, no, no. It's this Rilke fellow. It's like the princess who pricked her finger spinning, falling asleep forever. Dying from the prick of a rose thorn.” He looked at Jury. “It's sort of a breathtaking death, isn't it?”
“I guess I don't want to be breathtaken, Wiggins. See you.”
Two
T
he City of London, that square mile which was London's commercial and financial heart, had never been a hive of industry at the weekend. At the weekend, it was quaintly dead.
BOOK: The Blue Last
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