Crushing on Characters: Thank Grimes for Melrose Plant

Theakston Old Peculier
Old Peculier: tastes even better with Rimbaud
I’m in love.  My heart speeds up when I spend time with him.  He makes me smile for no reason.  We’ve been together for over twenty years, and it always seems new—but also familiar. Of course, I could say this about my husband, but I’m talking about a character in a series.  Melrose Plant, I adore you.  I love that you don’t use your title, even though you are an Earl.  I love that you tease your Aunt Agatha with goats and hermits.  I love that you’ll do almost anything for your friends, even if that is because you're bored and have nothing better to do.  I love your green eyes, your mussed hair, and your glasses.  I love how much you make me laugh.  I thank author Martha Grimes for creating you, giving you life, and letting you assist Chief Superintendent Richard Jury in her novels.  And I thank you for accepting my friend request on Facebook. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Melrose, we first meet him in Grimes’ Man with a Load of Mischief. Melrose lives in the village of Long Piddleton, and Richard Jury of Scotland Yard travels there to investigate a murder. Melrose is there when the body is discovered, and becomes part of the investigation as well as a friend to Jury.  In the first few pages, you learn that he reads Rimbaud, drinks Old Peculiar, has a dry sense of humor and is a peer of the realm.  Dreamy…

The Man with a Load of Mischief by Martha Grimes
The Man with a Load of Mischief by Martha Grimes
The series continues with Melrose and his group of eccentric friends, who hang out at their local pub, the Jack and Hammer, assisting Jury in solving mysteries.  All of the books are named after the various pubs the feature in the mysteries.  The sixteenth book, The Lamorna Wink, brings Melrose to the forefront.  Grimes has said in an interview at Mystery Net that she gave him his own book, because many of her fans are “Melrose Plant addicts” and that she wanted to answer some of lingering questions about his past. The other addicts and I are grateful!

Now, I've had crushes on lots and lots of book (and movie, and TV…) characters.  I've had long standing relationships with Spike from the Buffy and Angel franchises, Jamie Frasier from Diana Gabaldon's books, Matt Damon's Jason Bourne and Nathan Fillion in anything.  I've had affairs with even more characters.  But I would give them all up for Melrose Plant.  His wit, intelligence, impulsiveness, and humor, I just adore him. He's a keeper.

I know I’m not alone in loving fictitious people.  Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, fan sites, slash fiction, fan art, conventions—all these things are proof that characters creative people dream up and present to the world can be powerful totems and clearly objects of affection. Fantastic words and images can make us laugh and drive us to tears. But it takes something extra, something special, to keep our attention over years, to hold our regard for so long. There’s no formula and no way to predict what strikes your own, or the population’s, chords. But when you find it, you just have to hope that the creator keeps on creating and stays true to their creation.

Thank you Martha Grimes, for inventing such a wonderful man, and for giving him a life outside your books. Your eye for detail, your truth to this character you created, your gift for dialogue, and what must be your own wit have provided me with such pleasure for decades of reading. Your talent has made him real.


Amy Dalton is a buyer for a large, Midwestern library system. She has written news and reviews for several book and film sites over the years.

Comments

  1. Louise Partain

    I’m with you, Amy! Although I think if this series is in real time, these characters would be older than I am, I just want a delicious clinch for Melrose with nothing but real romance. After all, for all he’s a dilettante in all things, he has a romantic soul and I hope the little goth he kept chivalrous company with steals his heart and has the sense to keep it.

  2. Megan Frampton

    I used to read this series and gave up when it felt like I was reading the same book over and over again. But I agree; Melrose is a delightful character, I love his oddities. Thanks for reminding me why I stuck with Grimes for so long!

  3. Terrie Farley Moran

    I remember this series. Once upon a time I read a number of the Jury novels. Quirky characters are the best. I’ll have to re-visit the Jack and Hammer.

  4. Jess

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve been in love with Melrose Plant since I was thirteen years old. Love of my life? Oh, yes.

  5. Terry

    I’m re-reading the whole series right now. Up to [u]The Five Bells and Bladebone[/u] this weekend. I adore the Jury-Plant friendship, and every scene in the Jack and Hammer. I keep wishing someone would do the series on the BBC, and “do it right” which of course would be impossible – impossible to please all the fans, of course. Everyone has their own idea of what the characters look like, etc.

    Thanks for posting this, you have snagged another addict. 🙂

  6. Blanziflor

    Wow–I didn’t know there were others., so it’s good to meet you all. I gather he’s not supposed to be as “handsome” as Jury, but he’s far more interesting (part of that may be the wealth and the freedom it confers). I find at least part of his attraction due to the botanical aspects of his name.

  7. Felix Leberling

    I totally agree with you, even if I am not a woman, Melrose, over the years, became a very close friend to me. I love his boyish treament of Agatha and how he and Jury always guess about the diner at Boring’s. I often thought of how great it would be to join the Jack and Hammer-table, not for talking, but just listening. To enjoy all of them in reality! Shy Vivian, zynic Joanna, dry Diane (with even dryer Martinis), a Sobranie-smoking Trueblood (looking like the autumn in person) and of course Melrose! Sitting there, doing corsswords and drinking Old Peculier. Every time I am in a pub, I have to think of this great group! To come to an end: Melrose is a wonderful, non-aging guy, who easily becomes the friend of everybody who is intelligent, witty and sarcastic enough to move in his circle! I do not know what do do withput him!

  8. Viv-Viv

    All I see is Alexander Skarsgard when reading about Melrose……..

  9. JP

    Melrose Plant is my favorite part of they entire series. I read The Man With the Load of Mischief when it was first published. I have always anxiously awaited each and every new release. I do have to ask though if I’m the only one bothered by recent changes? He was originally portrayed as brilliant perhaps even smarter than Jury. He was a professor, did the Times puzzle in 5 minutes etc. Now it seems to me as if she has “dumbed” him down.

  10. IreneT

    There was a quotation I loved. It went more or less like this: ‘Melrose Plant was not terribly rich, but rich enough; not terribly handsome, but handsome enough; not terribly tall, but tall enough. He was terribly clever’.

  11. Clare 2e

    IreneT—just enough of everything with an extra helping of clever sounds ideal!

  12. Allie

    I too love Melrose Plant, just finished “The Old Success” and sad it is over.. please remind me of his dog’s name?

  13. Deanna

    I, too, can be numbered among those with crushes on characters. Has someone not taken up the banner to help Martha Grimes give the world more Melrose and Richard Jury? Bloody shame! From Maxwell Smart and Jed Clampett to literary princes of the realm, from king of the whittlers and a dude who talked into his shoe to one who made friends with and shared confidences with murder investigators. I loved it all. Thanks for the reminder, kiddos. God bless you all.

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