At the End of the Pier by Martha Grimes

Well, this is the fifth time I’ve read this book.  It makes such
great summer mystery reading–        It was written in 1992 and
selected by the Literary Guild and the Mystery Book Club.  The
author is best known for her Richard Jury mysteries, but  this one . . .

features Maud Chadwick, who is a waitress by day and at night likes
to sit out on her little dock with her vodka and watch the pretty lights
and listen to the familiar old songs from across the lake at the
country club.

At the End of the Pier Martha Grimes 004









She usually has her book of poetry in her hands–and is trying to
figure out the meaning of the poem “The Idea of Order at Key West”
by Wallace Stevens.

“Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know, . . .”

Late at night her friend Sam, the sheriff, usually joins her.

“I wonder who,” she had said to Sam back in July, “Ramon Fernandez

Sam had been silent for a moment, since Sam rarely shot back answers,
and then he said that he was probably some friend of the poet. “When I’m
in Hebrides next week I could go to the library and see if there’s anything
there on that poem.”

Maud slapped the book shut and stared.  “No! All I said was I wondered.
Wonder—wonder!  The answer’s something I have to decide for myself.”

He sighed.  “Maud.  If Ramon was a personal friend–“

“Ramon FERNANDEZ.  We’re not on a first-name basis with him,” she

And so on–that’s the sort of quibbling conversations they have.  It’s almost
or building to a romantic situation though Sam is married.  In the meantime,
Maud sits alone on that little dock every night–midst the news of a serial
killer in the area still at large.

There are gruesome details of the killings but something draws me to this
book despite the grimness.  Maud’s son is in his last year of college and she
is despondent about “losing” him.  His goings-on are another part of the plot
and between those and the search for the true killer–the pages fly along
pretty quickly.

I doubt if I’ve captured the sense of the book—but I hope I have.  Maybe you’ll
be curious why someone would read it five times!

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