Thursday, November 6, 2014

Good-bye For Now, Emma Graham

"...Twelve-year-old Emma, still hard on the trail of the truth behind these old intertwined crimes: the murders of Mary-Evelyn Devereau, Rose Queen, and Fern Queen; the attempted murder of Emma herself; and, most of all, the supposed kidnapping of the four-month-old Slade baby from the belle Ruin Hotel twenty years previously.

'Too many bad things happen around here,' says Emma to a visitor she never expected to see.  And with this visitor and the appearance of a mysterious drifter, it looks like too many bad things might start happening again.

In this suspenseful sequel to the best-selling Belle Ruin, the unflappable Emma Graham returns, still a waitress in her mother's decaying summer hotel, still a cub reporter for the local newspaper, and still a sleuth for the ages."
~ From Fadeaway Girl

I guess this'll be the last time I mention Martha Grimes’s twelve-year-old sleuth, Emma Graham, in a long time. Fadeaway Girl is the fourth and latest book in the series. So until Mrs. Grimes comes up with a fifth book (each book takes at least five years between the next), this will be it. However, believe me when I say that I have back up in the form of Emma’s eleven-year-old English counterpart, Flavia de Luce. So, stay tuned for the introduction of that one.

Nonetheless, like all books in Emma Graham’s series, Fadeaway Girl takes place at least a week or two after the events in the previous book.  In this case, that would be Belle Ruin. It’s the same summer and decade introduced in the very first book, Hotel Paradise. Same cast of crazy, eccentric and talkative characters. Same budding and expanding mystery revolving around a pocket of murders and a missing baby. And best of all, the same smart-mouth, lonely and inquisitive Emma Graham. Oh, and Fadeaway Girl still contains that dreamy, somewhat melancholy mood of a picturesque town spinning in its own humorous direction. Furthermore, I continued to burst out into laughter at Emma and her somehow lodged–yet dislodged–sense of pre-teen humor.

On another note, I believe Fadeaway Girl probably provided the most momentum plot-wise within the four books of the series.  Or at least it stomped the dryness of its predecessor, Belle Ruin. Nonetheless, considering Emma’s mysteries aren't traditionally told (or traditional at all), and are expansive and off-branching, many resolutions came to head in this fourth book. The only problem that I found with said resolutions was that they came kind of swift and abruptly. Toward the end of the book, Emma’s slow, hyper-observant styled narrative shifted gears completely. Nonetheless, even those quick resolutions were not so clean.  With that being said, Emma's story continues!

I’m going to miss Emma and her world until that fifth book comes out (sure, I can re-read them).  Whenever it comes.  The Emma Graham mysteries easily became one of my top five favorite mystery series.  No, they are not for everyone, but they were absolutely perfect for me.  

Emma reminded me of myself when I was a pre-teen.  I asked a lot of questions.  Some adults didn't like me because I challenged their authority (ask several of my middle school teachers).  Sometimes I had to lie to get information.  Many times I had to swerve my words to get what I wanted.  I was reckless and ruthless when it came to other kids my age, often shooting out commands at them.  And generally, just curious and adventurous while acknowledging that I was special if only I saw so in myself.  My connection with Emma was so real after that first book that I knew it would be hard to let her go.  

For now, anyway.


"Mr. Gumbrel was sitting at his desk in the back of the newspaper office.

'I just wanted to run this by you.  I called a couple of times, but you weren't here.'  No, I hadn't.  As if the only thing holding up the installment of the story was his not answering the phone.  'I need to know what you think of this story line.'


When I looked at the little I'd written, I felt disloyal."
"I would present myself as working for the Conservative and wanting an interview for the story of the Belle Ruin.  This had the disadvantage of being the truth.  I'd rather have pretended to be selling Girl Scout cookies (the Girl Scouts being a bunch I would drop dead before joining).  But here I was stuck with the truth."
"When I piled out of the cab in front of the Orion, Delbert asked me what I was going to do until the movie started, which wouldn't be for another half hour.

'Shoot up the place,' I said, and slammed the door."
"I had no idea what she was talking about.  'What?'

'Private detective.  Ain't you been listening?  Yes, Larry or Barry, no, Harry Oates.  We went dancing together under the stars.'

Pushing away from the wall, I decided to leave before she remembered that scene too well and got out of her chair."
"There were a lot of Moomas in the phone directory, but no Carls.  There were two C's, and I called both numbers.  I pretended to be selling magazine subscriptions, and one said his name was Charles, and he nearly talked my ear off, and the other hung up..."
"Naturally, he wanted to know why I was at Hanna's Building Supply, and I told him because we were building an ark at the rear of the hotel grounds and were charging fifty cents for anyone who wanted to bring his pet to get blessed.

Anyone else would have been questioning the whole ark-building plan, but not Delbert, who instead had to comment on Noah: 'Now I don't think he blessed the animals; I think his job was just to get 'em on board, march 'em up the ramp and inside the ship and that was all.'

I slid down in my seat and did not contradict him, because that would encourage conversation.  Probably, it served me right for the ark story.  And I forgot that silence could encourage conversation as much as speaking."
"I ran down the rest of the stairs and into the back office, where the phone was.  I plunked down Aurora's glass and grabbed up the metal phone pad, pushed the pointer to 'M,' and clicked it open.  There was Dr. McComb's number.

'Be there, be there,' I said to myself, and danced around like I had to pee.

'Dr. McComb, this is Emma.'

He was surprised.  'Emma, you should be–'

'What did Deputy Mooma mean about a "granny gun"?' I hadn't time for my roundabout ways.


I pinched my eyes shut.  'He was talking about the gun, I think, that was lying on the floor.'

'Oh yeah, I recall.  It's a small one.  Now listen Emma–'

'What about it?  What.  A.  Bout.  It?'  I said this through gritted teeth so he would know I wasn't fooling around and that I meant business.

He knew.  He told me.
Emma Graham Series Order
1.  Hotel Paradise
2.  Cold Flat Junction
3.  Belle Ruin
4.  Fadeaway Girl

No comments:

Post a Comment

Total Pageviews