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Hotel Paradise (Emma Graham Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – April 28, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Grimes's mystery-spinning skills take a backseat to character development and human relationships in her second, quite appealing "literary" novel (after The End of the Pier). She etches an enchanting portrait of spunky Emma Graham, the 12-year-old narrator, an incorrigibly inquisitive girl with a love of rib-sticking food. Tethered to table-waiting responsibilities in the family's frayed-at-the-edges resort hotel, Emma's only connection to youngsters her age is her consuming interest in the death by drowning of another 12-year-old girl 40 years ago: wearing a party dress, Mary-Evelyn Devereau apparently fell from a rowboat on nearby Spirit Lake in the middle of the night. Cleverly manipulating crotchety old ladies and backwoodsy old men in her pursuit of answers, Emma discovers that Mary-Evelyn's aunt Rose ran off with Ben Queen. The recent murder of their daughter, Fern Queen, and the spectral presence of a girl resembling the deceased Rose compound Emma's quest. Emma's take on the colorful characters in her small-town world?from the "bedeviled by silence" retarded Wood brothers to her great aunt Aurora, who lives on gin and fried chicken delivered by hotel dumbwaiter?makes this both a provocative study of lonely people and a delightful read. The suspense is value-added.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA?Swirling in a fog of hints and possibilities, Hotel Paradise leaves readers pondering and replaying the story over and over again. Told from the point of view of a bright 12-year-old girl and set in small-town America, it begs comparison with Olive Burns's Cold Sassy Tree (Ticknor & Fields, 1984) and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. With her father dead, her older brother occupied with his own pursuits, and her mother obsessed by the managing of Hotel Paradise, the young heroine is ignored and adrift. Friendless except for the few adults in the nearby town who take an interest in her, she is nameless until the end of the book. She becomes obsessed by an event that occurred 40 years previously, the drowning of another ignored and unloved 12-year-old, Mary-Evelyn Devereau. When a Devereau relative is found murdered, the narrator sets out to connect all the clues and solve the mystery. Grimes's depiction of the main character's observations and imagination rings true. This book should appeal to YAs in its descriptions of family, adults, and life situations from a young person's point of view. The lack of a neat ending may be disappointing at first, but there is so much food for thought in this book that many teens will find it enjoyable and thought-provoking.?Carol DeAngelo, Garcia Consulting Inc., at EPA, Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Emma Graham Mysteries
  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 28, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345394259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345394255
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Martha Grimes is the bestselling author of twenty-one Richard Jury novels, as well as the novels Dakota and Foul Matter, among others. Her previous two Jury books, The Old Wine Shades and Dust, both appeared on the New York Times bestseller list.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I must disagree with the reader who skewers this book so dreadfully (regarding a 12 year-old's vocabulary). Perhaps one of the reasons I responded so viscerally to Grimes' book is that I was a 12 year-old exactly like this narrator--bookish and full of Victorian words better written than pronounced. In "Hotel Paradise," Grimes creates a book that completely pulled me in and when it ended, I was saddened because then I had to give up the narrator's world, one I happily entered for a period of hours. I will collect Martha Grimes' books happily now (this was my first one). I most heartily recommend this book to anyone who likes books for the way they are written, and to those who can use their own imaginations when they read--after all, isn't that part of the fun of reading fiction? Grimes is no dime-store novel simpleton. Her words leap off of the page and the phrases in "Hotel Paradise" are almost edible. Buy this book in hardcover and loan it to a friend when you are finished.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 22, 1996
Format: Hardcover
This is the second of Martha Grimes books which depart from her usual fun English mystery format and I think it is much more successful than the first attempt.
This book tells the story of a 12 year old girl living with her Mother in a run-down resort hotel who becomes obsessed with understanding why a girl her age drowned in the lake in front of their property 40 years ago.

It is really a great coming of age story about a young girl who has been emotionally abandoned by her family and who needs find a place for herself and understand that sometimes one person in a family may become the family scapegoat for reasons they can't control.
You will love the main character. She is spunky and intelligent and brave.

This book is usually cataloged in the mystery section but is really just good fiction and shouldn't be overlooked by those people who say "I don't read mysteries".
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 14, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is--without a doubt--my all-time favorite book. I love it!
Our 12 year-old heroine (whose name is not revealed until the very end of the book) has a hard life. What is perhaps one of the more brilliant aspects of the book, is that she honestly doesn't realize how hard her life is. Working 3 meals a day, 7 days a week as a waitress (something that an adult would never stand for), she is ignored by most adults and tormented by the closest thing she has to a contemporary: the awful Regina Jane Davidow.
Of course, one of the other brilliant points of the book is that her life isn't nearly as miserable as she believes it to be, either.
Her only friends are Maude, the waitress, and Sam, the sheriff (featured characters in the like-wise brilliant "End of the Pier"). But even Maude and Sam can't follow her when she delves into the past, back into a 40 year-old death which haunts her thoughts. What exactly did happen to Mary Evelyn Devereau? What ever became of Ben Queen? Who is the mysterious "Girl" who keeps appearing and disappearing? Most of all--how can one little girl put to rest the ghosts of another child who died nearly 30 years before she was born?
From the first line of Chapter 2, you know this is going to be a good book. "My mother was not a Paradise." Isn't that the most perfect line you've ever read? I only wish it were the first line of the entire book. Ms. Grimes is beyond a doubt one of the most talented fiction writers (ignore the whole "mystery" genre--this woman can WRITE) of our generation. I only wish she had an editor who would guide her a little more. Sometimes she does stray from her characters a bit. But all things considered, it is very hard to find fault with a masterpiece such as this.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've read most of Grimes' Richard Jury mysteries and have enjoyed them enough to pick-up the next one I run across. But nothing in these novels prepared me for the excellence of this book. Gentle and flowing, the writing pulls you in and holds you captivated in the shadowy interior world of a teenage girl coming of age - a world halfway between dream and reality yet totally believable. The best writing I have encountered in a long, long time.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have to disagree with the negative reviews printed here. Hotel Paradise is exactly the kind of book I love to read. I took it on vacation and lounged in the sun with it for several days. As soon as it ended, I started it again. Martha Grimes obviously has a great respect for young people and their intuitive view of the adult world. I wasn't bothered at all at the lack of plot action or mystery resolution. The resolution is there for readers to decipher on their own. Can't wait to discuss this book with my Mother Daughter book group.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Christina P. Branson on July 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It is a mystery novel of sorts, but there is not a bit of formula, and I enjoyed the nods to Rebecca and To Kill a Mockingbird. The protagonist is an engaging young girl who is a complex mixture of intelligence, sophistication, strength of character, sensitivity, and vulnerability. In a sense, this is more of a rite of passage story than it is a mystery story.
The prose is richly written, describing landscapes, people, and character interactions with an other-worldliness that haunts the reader. If you are looking for something more character-driven than the usual whodunit, and you can live with some ambiguity, I think you'll enjoy this book.
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