It was far too high to see Old Broad Street down below, but the windows that traveled all the way around the lozenge-shaped room gave as great a view of London as he’d ever seen. The Thames, Westminster, St. Paul’s, Southwark, everything miniaturized. He was so high up he fancied he’d almost had an attack of vertigo on the fast elevator that made only one stop, and that one at the top of Tower 42: Vertigo.
Jury was looking down at the Thames, moving off in one direction toward Gravesend and Gallions Reach, which he couldn’t of course see; in the other direction, the Isle of Dogs, Richmond, and Hampton Court. He tried to picture all of those ships that had once steamed toward London’s docks, toward Rotherhithe and the Blackwall Basin in the not-so-distant past, and in just such light as Jury was seeing now, the sun setting on St Paul’s. In the deep sunset hovering over buildings, the outlines blurred. They might have been dark hills.
He was looking toward Docklands, an area that used to comprise the West India Docks and beyond to the Blackwell Basin, one thing that remained after the docks closed. Eighty-some acres of what was now the Canary Wharf estate. Hundreds of dockers had once lived and worked there; now it was office workers, glass buildings, and converted warehouses.
Vertigo 42, this bar at the top of one of the financial towers in the “square mile” that made up the City of London—London’s financial district—might have been designed to create the illusion of a city down there. Or perhaps that thought was merely brought on by the champagne Jury was drinking. Champagne was something he never drank and wasn’t used to; but that’s what you got up here, that’s why people came here—to drink champagne.
The champagne had been brought by a waiter “at the request of Mr. Williamson, sir.” The waiter set down two glasses and poured into one of them. Jury drank. He had forgotten champagne; he had certainly forgotten great champagne, if he’d ever known it at all. This lot (he had checked the wine list) was costing Mr. Williamson in the vicinity of 385 quid. One bottle. That much. It was Krug. Was wine this expensive meant to be swallowed? Or just held in the mouth as the eye held on to the barges streaked with orange light there on the river.
The waiter returned with a dish of incandescent green olives, big ones; he placed them on the counter that ran beneath the window and between the rather trendy-looking but very comfortable chairs.
Jury was there to meet not an old friend, but a friend of an old friend, Sir Oswald Maples. The friend of the friend was Williamson, who had ordered the champagne. Oswald Maples had asked Jury if he could spare some time to talk to Tom Williamson, and Jury said, “Of course. Why?” To which Oswald had said, “You’ll see.” Jury filled his glass again before he moved to another window and another view of the Thames.
“My favorite view,” said a voice behind him. Jury turned.
“Superintendent Jury? I’m Tom Williamson. I’m very sorry I’m late.”
“I’m not,” said Jury, lifting the Krug from its ice bed. “You will notice this is considerably below the waterline.”
Tom Williamson laughed and poured a measure into his own glass. He was a tall man, taller by an inch than Jury himself. “Fortunately, there’s a lot more sea.” He raised his glass, tipped it toward Jury’The inimitable Richard Jury returns in the latest in the bestselling mystery series: “Martha Grimes has written a whodunit with terrific characters and a grand plot mixed with her unique droll wit. Vertigo 42 is one smart mystery!” (Susan Isaacs, bestselling author of Goldberg Variations)
Richard Jury is meeting Tom Williamson at Vertigo 42, a bar on the forty-second floor of an office building in London’s financial district. Despite inconclusive evidence, Tom is convinced his wife, Tess, was murdered seventeen years ago. The inspector in charge of the case was sure Tess’s death was accidental—a direct result of vertigo—but the official police inquiry is still an open verdict and Jury agrees to re-examine the case.
Jury learns that a nine-year-old girl fell to her death five years before Tess at the same place in Devon where Tess died, at a small house party. Jury seeks out the five surviving party guests, who are now adults, hoping they can shed light on this bizarre coincidence. Ultimately, four deaths—two in the past, two that occur on the pages of this intricate, compelling novel—keep Richard Jury and his sidekick Sergeant Wiggins running from their homes in Islington to the countryside in Devon and to London as they try to figure out if the deaths were accidental or not. And, if they are connected.
Witty, well-written, with literary references from Thomas Hardy to Yeats, Vertigo 42 is a pitch perfect, page-turning novel from a mystery writer at the top of her game.