Monday, March 18, 2013

Hotel Paradise

By Martha Grimes

Emma is a girl alone, even though she lives in a hotel owned by her family and even though she has to help out in the kitchen and dining room every day. Only twelve years old, her work keeps her busy and she has no close companions, not her mother, not her father (who left years ago), not her brother, not the other girl who lives at the hotel and who Emma frankly hates. So it is not surprising that she latches onto a mysterious death that occurred forty years ago. Twelve-year-old Mary-Evelyn, wearing a lovely party dress, climbed into a leaky row boat at night, rowed out into the lake and drowned when the boat sank. Her family didn't report her missing until the next morning.
There are many unanswered questions about Mary-Evelyn Devereau and her strange family. And since Emma doesn't have much else to occupy her mind, she gets caught up in investigating this old death. The mystery deepens when a woman is found dead, possibly murdered, a woman who it seems has a connection to the long-gone Devereaus. Plus Emma is also intrigued by a brief glimpse of a young woman who bears a strong resemblance to one of the Devereau sisters. So Emma musters her resources and starts her investigation by interviewing the local oldsters, one of which lives at the hotel, Emma's own irascible, alcoholic great aunt Aurora.

This started out to be a very interesting read but, about half way through, I wanted it to be finished, as I was getting rather tired of it. I think my main problem with it was that I was thinking I was reading a murder mystery and I kept waiting for the crime to be solved and the mysteries cleared up. Some are cleared up, most are left pretty murky, including the mysteries surrounding Emma herself. So, even though I was disappointed by the book, I still think it was a worthy read, just for the chance to enter Emma's odd world. I think I would like to read more about Emma, see how she copes with the difficulties in her situation.

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