Martha Grimes is a celebrated mystery writer whose long-running Richard Jury series is part of what earned her the title of Grand Master from the Mystery Writers Association in 2012. Over 23 books, the handsome but melancholy inspector (later superintendent) has hunted down murders all over the UK–and in Grimes’ latest Richard Jury mystery, VERTIGO 42, what starts as a cold case leads him to London, Devon, and deep into the past to uncover a deadly secret.
One not-so-deadly secret is the fact that the distinctive titles of the Richard Jury novels are all real-life bars and pubs (though not all of them are still open today!). There’s Help the Poor Struggler (run at one time by Albert Pierrepoint, a professional hangman); the Grave Maurice (closed now, and the Yelp reviews don’t appreciate its history as the Kray brothers‘ local); and the Old Contemptibles, which you can still drink at today! VERTIGO 42 is no exception, though we’re sure no one actually plummeted to their death at the real spot, a London champagne bar. In honor of this fun fact, we thought we’d share a few New York City watering holes for Richard Jury to visit if he finds himself looking for trouble on this side of the pond…if you have a favorite haunt that would make a great setting for a murder mystery, tell us in the comments!
The perfect hideout:
New York has many a dive bar, which makes perfect sense–when you squeeze a million and a half people into 30 square miles, you need someplace to go where it’s so dark you don’t have to look at them. If you needed to disappear after offing someone–or maybe just grab a little liquid courage on your way to dump a body in the East River–look no further than the Subway Inn. Originally established in 1937, this dark little hideaway will conceal even the blackest of deeds…and if you need to make a quick getaway, the subway’s right across the street! (Actually, the bar, which nearly had to close due to soaring East Side rents, reopened last month just a block away–but early reports say it’s still a little TOO clean, so don’t kill anyone in the bathrooms yet!)
The perfect “accident”:
So maybe you’ve finished Martha Grimes’ book and are thinking about a little “assisted vertigo” of your own? You’ll need just the right rooftop bar from which to toss your victim. Why not try Gallow Green at the top of the McKittrick Hotel? Fans of the performance piece Sleep No More may already be familiar with this green and leafy oasis–and as that was a reimagining of Hamlet, lots of people are probably already in a deadly mood. The space is shrouded in leafy greens, the better to obscure any sudden movements, and if you’re lucky, anyone who spots you giving someone the old heave-ho will think it’s just part of the act.
The perfect alibi:
As any self-respecting criminal knows, the best way not to get caught is to have an ironclad alibi–so pick a bar that’s perfect for celebrity sightings and paparazzi, and you’ll establish that you were nowhere near that guy they just fished out of the Gowanus! For your consideration: Avenue, where Chelsea meets the Meatpacking district. This two story club is jam packed and shows up on many a “best celeb sightings” list, so you should have no problem establishing your presence there as you dance the night away…and yet who will notice if you slip off to “powder your nose” for a moment or two? Coppers ain’t got nothin’ on you, you smart thing!
The perfect drink:
We can’t tell you about all these bars and not offer you a drink, right? So we leave you with a recipe for one of the strongest cocktails in all of NYC–get one or two of these into your victim, and even if they survive, they won’t remember a thing…
3/4 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. mezcal
3/4 oz. Rhum Agricole (a cane-juice rum)
two dashes of barbecue-flavored bitters
And no, the fact that there are NO mixers in this cocktail is not a mistake.
There you have it! You’re now ready to have an absolutely killer time in New York City. But be warned…Richard Jury might be on your tail!