belle ruin

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Saturday, January 07, 2006
by Martha Grimes #45
There are so many things I like about this series I don't even know how to start without resorting to a long list that would be not nearly as convincing as if you would just read it and see what I mean. However, time and cruel experience have taught me that my wishing for things does not make them so. There are only three books in the series proper (Hotel Paradise, Cold Flat Junction, and Belle Ruin*) There is usually some mysterious element or another, but not a mystery in the typical sense. There is far more time spent on the quality of doughnuts at the diner or how fine it feels to walk in to a cool room on a hot day than on the motivations of a killer - which is all fine by me. Grimes is also very good at drawing side-characters who seem at once to be completely real and like characters I've been reading (and loving) in fiction forever.

The real treat in these books is the first-person narrator Emma Graham. Emma is cub reporter, strategic planner, girl detective, Deus ex Machina ( for her brother's play Medea: The Musical!), romantic smartypants, observant busybody, and 12 years old. The past hangs all over the Hotel Paradise like a fine coat of dust, but rather than write "Dust Me" in it with her finger Emma exhales little puffs of breath that make it dance around in the light. I would read Emma's words all day long if it didn't mean it would bring me to the end of the book faster.

Here's a quote: There must be certain things that make us look at them, but we can't say what they mean because they don't have any words attached to them and sometimes not even a face, so it's like staring into a vacancy, yet it's the most important thing of all. But since there aren't any words or pictures, we can't say what or why it is. I do not know what was so important about the Waitresses and the Girl. I may never know. But I do know I'll keep looking until I can put it all into words, as if it's my duty. I do know that.

*One other Grimes book (The End of the Pier) features a regular character from the Hotel Paradise world, but is not really part of the series.
2 comments on "belle ruin"
  1. One of these days I will have to get around to reading Martha Grimes. I know you've liked her for what seems like forever. I don't know why I haven't read her yet, but she'll have to wait a little longer, because I'm still getting to know my newest books crush. Once the ardor fades, I will be looking for a new object of my affections and Grimes will be there, waiting for me.

  2. She'll be around! I recommend starting with these instead of the straight ahead mysteries. If only because there are a lot fewer and you won't feel obliged to read 28 books to catch up. On the other hand, if mystery is what you are more in the mood for...


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