Belle Ruin (Emma Graham Series #3)

Belle Ruin (Emma Graham Series #3)

3.4 14
by Martha Grimes

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A waitress at her mother's decaying resort hotel, twelve-year-old Emma now has a second job as the youngest cub reporter in the history of La Porte's Conservative newspaper. But when she discovers the crumbling shell of a fabulous hotel- the once-sumptuous Belle Rouen-in the woods near her small town of Spirit Lake, Emma never imagines that the mysteries it


A waitress at her mother's decaying resort hotel, twelve-year-old Emma now has a second job as the youngest cub reporter in the history of La Porte's Conservative newspaper. But when she discovers the crumbling shell of a fabulous hotel- the once-sumptuous Belle Rouen-in the woods near her small town of Spirit Lake, Emma never imagines that the mysteries it holds will bring her one step closer to solving a forty-year-old crime-and force a new transgression to light.

Editorial Reviews

Sometimes little Emma Graham is almost too precocious. When not waitressing at her mother's decaying resort hotel, 12-year-old Emma walks the beat as the youngest cub reporter in the history of the local newspaper. Her irrepressible sleuthing leads her deep into the woods near Spirit Lake, where she discovers the crumbling remains of a sumptuous grand hotel. On the scent of a scoop, she begins probing the hidden history of the vacation palace, uncovering secrets buried deep inside the Belle Rouen's burned ruins.
Marilyn Stasio
Grimes saves her loveliest writing for the gloomy images of empty train stations and tumbledown houses in which Emma takes such melancholy pleasure. But there's also an explosive comic exuberance to the scenes of Emma's high jinks around town and at her mother's hotel, a rich source for the oddball characters who give these novels their charm. Not all of them are pushovers for Emma, master manipulator though she may be, and it's a treat to watch her invent increasingly exotic alcoholic concoctions to pry information out of 91-year-old Aurora Paradise, who lives on the top floor of the hotel. The Paradise garage is also fertile territory for amusement, especially when it's turned into the rehearsal hall for a version of ''Medea'' that Emma's brother and a friend who admires Spike Jones are earnestly setting to music.
— The New York Times

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Emma Graham Series, #3
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.29(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.82(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Martha Grimes is the bestselling author of eighteen Richard Jury mysteries and also the acclaimed fiction Foul Matter, Cold Flat Junction, Hotel Paradise, The End of the Pier, and The Train Now Departing.

Brief Biography

Washington, DC and Santa Fe, NM
Date of Birth:
May 2, 1931
Place of Birth:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
B.A., M.A., University of Maryland

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Belle Ruin (Emma Graham Series #3) 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
TexasNancy More than 1 year ago
Because Martha Grimes is my favorite author, I have read all her books except for Vertigo 42. I do most of my reading from library books, but in the case of the Emma series, I purchased those after reading the library copies. The atmosphere Ms. Grimes achieves in these particular books is addictive. To me, they are far more intriguing than the Richard Drury books. Ms. Grimes is such a creative wordsmith, I will sometimes read a sentence several times just to savor it. 'Anonymous' who has left several critiques below, reminds me of my husband. When we used to take our yearly trips from Texas to home in N.C., he was always in such a hurry to get there, he never let himself enjoy the two days of scenery and what was happening along the way. All he could see was the end goal of being in N.C. My advise is to enjoy the trip through the Emma books and be aware of the rarity of such excellent writing. I recommend ALL Martha Grimes books but especially the Emma Graham novels. A newer author I recommend Is John Hart. He is another who knows the English language and how to write. I especially liked Down River.
Curled_Up_and_Comfy More than 1 year ago
I loved Belle Ruin. And as far as the complaint of there not being an end--There is always an end of certain secondary plot lines-(I can't say more or it would ruin it for anyone who enjoys a well built plot)-life just happens to be open ended till we die. (perhaps after-that is open for debate). What I like most about this series is that it doesn't end before it even gets started like many books do. The older classics moved the story along slowly and carefully, building the characters and the plot so you FELT the story. Even top selling books like the Harry Potter Series was 7 books long with the subplots of each book being solved but not the major plot. When it ended- all I felt was a loss because I enjoyed the characters so much. I feel like I have met each one of these characters and look forward to seeing them again. I also like to think things over and the way this book is written gives ME a chance to wonder along with Emma-What happened, why and who is The Girl? I read this one first and that was fine- I wasn't lost, but I dove back into the first two and will now reread this one before moving ahead to Fadeaway Girl. As for me as long as I get to keep reading about Emma and her accomplices I don't care if they ever figure it out. BTW anyone who gets a chance at audio version--Kim Mai Guest is excellent as the reader of this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cannot believe that she has written three books about Emma and still there is no ending to the story or solving of the crime. When I complained about this to Ms. Grimes, I was told that a new book would be out in 2011. I asked if this would have an ending and was told they did not know. I advise people not to read the books as they will be very frustrated when they have finished the three books. I kept reading, as I thought the third book would have the solution to the story. When it did not and after the comments from Ms. Grimes, I have decided not to buy any more of her books.
anavidreaderWY More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this story, the twists, the irony. Yes there is some science, but it's easy to understand. If you can't get it, move on past it, it isn't relevant to the overall plot... isn't this how things happen when we strive to deceive, and most of us believe people are telling us the truth, even when we find inconsistencies, we then try to justify those inconsistencies as fallables of human nature, forgetfulness, distraction, etc. Loved the book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed all emma graham mysteries and wish grimes would write more. i still have all the characters and the surrounding landscape clearly in mind. i tryed to 'nurse' each book but couldn't help reading each one as fast as I could. grimes is an incredible writer--you get a great mystery story along with many little stories. can't wait for the next emma story!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't see how any one did not love this book. It's like taking a mini vacation from the real world. I love Emma and her take on things, her wit and her wisdom. Maybe others need to stick to more traditional novels, but I can't wait for the next in this series. I haven't quite finished this one yet, and I don't see how all the 'mysteries' will be solved by the end, but to paraphrase Emma, it's the journey there that really counts. I can't wait to read more about Emma's adventures - her quest to get Axel to take her for a taxi ride, her latest alchoholic concoction for Aunt Abigail, her battle's with Ree Jane, Will and Mill's theatrical endeavors, her next imaginary vacation - they are a treat to read, often both funny and sad at the same time. And the fun facts you pick up along the way - never knew 3 Musketeers used to have 3 flavors, or that Mr Ree was a game that pre-dated what we now know as Clue. If you enjoy an intelligent, thoughtful read, this one is all that and still very entertaining.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with previous review saying it's almost impossible to figure out where and when the story takes place. But while I could suppose that author had done it on purpose, what I could not imagine how such an acclaimed author could make such a screaming error in the plot. Almost at the end when Emma talks to Mr. and Mrs. Souder, she asks them about the night the hotel burned down, NOT THE NIGHT OF THE KIDNAPPING. Then Souders answer by saying Yes, they remember and describe Morris Slade and the baby coming to fill the prescription. As was said repeatedly in the book,the two events, kidnapping and fire,happened three years appart!!! I don't think I would like to read any more of Martha Grimes' books or recommend it to others. Characters are not very beleivable, the 'mystery' is not solved and she could not keep the plot straight.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The greatest mystery for me was why other people have found this book so captivating. It seems to end where it began. And if the 'mystery' is solved, I couldn't see how. There is something else going on here, but is it worth figuring out? Is it possible? As others have said, I'll stick to Jury.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While Kim Mai guest is relatively new to voice performing she sounds like a seasoned pro as she inhabits the voice of 12-year-old sleuth Emma Graham. As many will remember, Emma was introduced by Martha Grimes several years ago with 'Hotel Paradise.' Emma's the youngest cub reporter ever seen on her small town's newspaper and she's more than a bit snoopy and very precocious. Determined to solve any mystery she can unearth, Emma is now fascinated by the ruins of Belle Rouen, a once magnificent resort/hotel not too far from where she lives. The girl yearns to be a star reporter and prove that she's more than a preteener who also works as a waitress in her mother's much-in-need-of repair and redecoration hotel. So, she starts to dig into the history of Belle Rouene, probing prying until she feels she has discovered why it burned to the ground. She also very much wants to solve an almost 50-year-old crime that occurred there. We learned in 'Cold Flat Junction' that Emma can do whatever she sets her mind to, and she does with a little help from a few outre characters. Young listeners will especially enjoy Emma's latest adventure. - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love both the characters (Emma is a hoot!) and the general ambiance of this novel. Very funny, especially Emma's thoughts about Re-jane and Will's play about Medea in the big garage. I encourage anyone who enjoys reading a book with strong, sympathetic, and quirky characters in a 'homey' setting to read this book, but only after reading 'Hotel Paradise' and 'Cold Flat Junction.' Can't wait for the next one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read or listened to most of Martha Grimes¿ books and this book convinces me Martha Grimes the American author of British characters should eliminate Martha Grimes the American author of American characters. ¿stick with Richard & Ambrose. I will not listen to or read the other Emma stories. The author can¿t decide if this book is an epic southern novel, a children¿s Nancy Drew story or what I hoped I was getting when I selected this book - a multi layered, dark and twisting story told by a character that happens to be a child in a mystery for adult audiences. Gail Godwin¿s Southern Family is an excellent example of the southern epic, which is a genre that¿s a `hit or miss¿ pitiless genre ¿ you either `can or can¿t¿ with the southern epic format. Martha Grimes' plots have always contained suspense and intrigue without the loss of continuity and never struck me as indulgent and wordy¿.until now. I¿m at the last disc, disc 10 where Emma¿s thoughts are rambling in an aimless fashion the reader can endure in the beginning, when characters and landscapes must be laid out in context as a skeletal frame work the imagination can claim and expand on, but at this point it¿s false and cryptic and unnecessary. I¿m not sure I care who took the baby or where Ben is. The fact that I¿m on the last few tracks and stopped listening to write this review tells you all you need to know about this book¿I¿ve never posted a review on, but I suggest you pick something else. A tendency for motion sickness forces me to listen to audio books (I¿ve listed to hundreds of excellent works) and as an avid listener I felt Kim Mai Guest (narrator) may improve over time but she¿s too `green¿ for a book that desperately needed the help a veteran audio performer would have leant this work. Emma¿s immaturity and age appropriate personality should have been oral but slightly muted, enhanced and conveyed via technique and inflection. The book¿s short comings combined with the high pitch 12 year old voice tries the nerves of the listener around the 15th chapter of an over 30 chapter book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like the other reviewer said, you must read the other two novels before this one, because Belle Ruin is full of references to the other two books, which I couldn't remember, so it lessened my understanding of things considerably. I stopped reading it less than 50 pages in for that reason, plus I didn't know what era the novel is set in-is it pre-WWII, post WWII, present-day, what? I also was not sure where the book takes place-was it England, a British island, Canada or the US? I don't care to read reviews of books before I read them in order to find out these questions, they should be made clear from the start. I wish Ms. Grimes had taken the time for a little backstory work at the beginning of the novel. I also wasn't captivated by the 12-year old narrator, at times she sounded like an average 12-year-old and other times she sounded way too old to be believable. I'll stick with the Richard Jury mysteries.