Because of a suspension, Scotland Yard superintendent Richard Jury has time on his hands. He's been visiting a pub/wine bar called the Old Wine Shades, where he chats with a man who's been spinning out the tale of a friend whose wife, son and dog disappeared almost a year ago. Only the dog came back. Jury is fascinated and, because he has time on his hands, looks into the mystery.

This is a hard book to get into, at least at first, when it's all talk, talk, talk about the missing family. Most of Grimes' regulars -- Wiggins, Racer, Cyril the cat, Carole-anne, Aunt Agatha, Polly, etc. -- make only cameo appearances, and Melrose gets to play a slightly bigger part. But, as the book progresses, it gets much more interesting and has a terrific ending, which you don't see coming until almost the last page.

As always, the writing is superb. Grimes is a wonderful storyteller, but some of the stories are a bit outlandish. She always uses precocious children, but this time she had a precocious dog. If you like animals in mysteries, check this one out. After 20 Jury mysteries, Grimes might be getting tired of her characters, but she still has a few tricks up her sleeve. (Feb., 352 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Lorraine Gelly