Frustrated Poet Turned Mystery Wrier: Martha Grimes, born May 2nd. 1931

Martha Grimes was born May 2 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to D.W., a city solicitor, and to June, who owned the Mountain Lake Hotel in Western Maryland where Martha and her brother spent much of their childhood. Grimes earned her B.A. and M.A. at the University of Maryland. She has taught at the University of Iowa, Frostburg State University, and Montgomery College.

Grimes is best known for her series of novels featuring Richard Jury, an inspector with Scotland Yard, and his friend Melrose Plant, a British aristocrat who has given up his titles. Each of the Jury mysteries is named after a pub.

Frustrated as a poet, Grimes noticed that most of her poems were about violence, had a strong narrative arc and “read like poems written by someone who should be writing prose.” She loved the mystery novels of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, and found the idea of writing them herself compelling.

Writing in the morning, before or between classes, often sitting in bed and writing on a yellow legal pad, she penned a mystery about “an American English professor who ties up with a couple of other people, not exactly crooks, and they steal various things.”

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