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Cold Flat Junction (Emma Graham Series #2)

Cold Flat Junction (Emma Graham Series #2)

4.3 13
by Martha Grimes

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Martha Grimes's Hotel Paradise was hailed by Booklist as "superb...beyond genre...one of the year's best." Now, Grimes returns to the same small town, intertwining the threads of one young girl's unexplained death with another young girl's attempt at making sense of her own life.


Martha Grimes's Hotel Paradise was hailed by Booklist as "superb...beyond genre...one of the year's best." Now, Grimes returns to the same small town, intertwining the threads of one young girl's unexplained death with another young girl's attempt at making sense of her own life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A superior writer." —The New York Times Book Review

"Grimes brings every corner of Cold Flat Junction to vivid life." —Baltimore Sun

Obsessed with the "accidental" drowning of an adolescent girl some 40 long years ago, Emma Graham is determined to unravel the mystery of the drowning and the unsolved murders that wind back to it. But Emma's unstoppable quest for answers will take her to places no 12-year-old girl should go -- not even a child as daring, irrepressible, and intuitive as Emma. In the marvelously intriguing Cold Flat Junction, Martha Grimes's quirky, thoroughly captivating young heroine continues the pursuit she began in Hotel Paradise -- tracking down old secrets in the cobwebbed corners of a once-fashionable resort hotel in search of the long-buried truth about two mysterious deaths that will help her make sense of her own strange life.
Grimes brings every corner of Cold Flat Junction to vivid life.
San Diego Union-Tribune
...a thoroughly delightful reading experience.
Baltimore Sun
Grimes brings every corner of Cold Flat Junction to vivid life.
Knoxville News-Sentinel
Though some may disbelieve Emma's intelligence as too adult, these are skills honed by solitary children. Grimes get that - and everything else - just right.
New York Times Book Review
A superior writer.
Richmond Times Dispatch
Emma Graham [is] one of the most realistically drawn children in contemporary fiction.
Raleigh News & Observer
[Cold Flat Junction] is a masterful, character-driven exploration of small-town secrets and their surprisingly dire consequences.
San Jose Mercury News
A master of nuance, Grimes brings every corner of Cold Flat Junction to vivid life.
Newark Star Ledger
If Grimes' style seems off-putting at first, give it 20 pages and you'll be hooked.
Dallas-Fort Worth Morning Star
...the story never really stops in Cold Flat Junction. Those who visit Grimes' fictional town won't be disappointed.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Grimes made her reputation with her Richard Jury mysteries, but she has also successfully produced character-driven psychological fiction. This smartly written, quietly paced sequel to her 1996 hit Hotel Paradise revisits precocious 12-year-old sleuth Emma Graham, working in her family's fading resort hotel on Spirit Lake in smalltown America. Setting this narrative a week after the close of its predecessor, Grimes chronicles Emma's investigation of three family murders. Ben Queen has recently been released from prison after serving 20 years for the murder of his wife, Rose Devereau Queen. Fern Queen, Rose and Ben's daughter, who "had always been touched in the head," is found shot, and Ben is once again the prime suspect. Emma knows that Ben could not have committed either murder. Unfortunately, she can't tell the sheriff without letting on that Ben is hiding in the old Devereau house. Emma is aware that all these events began 40 years ago with the mysterious drowning death of 12-year-old Mary-Evelyn Devereau, who was being cared for by her three aunts, Rose's half sisters. And who is the spectral "Girl" who keeps appearing and disappearing? Skillfully constructed as a smart, independent child learning to be a self-aware adult, Emma has a talent for indirect routes, self-fulfilling lies and pumping her unwitting sources for a great deal of information. Her meditations can occasionally make slow reading, and she tells her story in almost as roundabout a way as she investigates, but the effect is surprisingly satisfying. Like Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine, Grimes obviously enjoys straying from more traditional mysteries, though under her own name. Fans of Grimes's Richard Jury series undoubtedly read her in both incarnations, and the sophisticated jacket design should help lure general readers to this well-wrought narrative. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Emma Graham, a 12-year-old sleuth, is baffled that no one seems concerned about mysterious murders in her small town. She is tenacious and thorough in her investigation. Emma manages to interview key witnesses as well as relatives and even those who could provide an alibi for the key suspect. As she goes about this job, she also works at the local hotel as a waitress (her mother is a cook). Emma has a vivid imagination: when her mom and another woman hit the road for a trip to Florida, Emma creates her own Florida in the hotel. Of course Emma finds key evidence and forces the local sheriff to realize exactly what did happen in both murders. Despite the risk to herself, Emma proves indomitable. Grimes writes a fun (if at times a bit slow and confusing) tale with a lively, engaging protagonist. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Penguin Putnam, New American Library, 432p., Holab-Abelman
Library Journal
The intrepid 12-year-old sleuth Emma Graham is back in a sequel to Grimes's Hotel Paradise. When 38-year-old Fern Queen is shot just days after her father, Ben, is released from prison, Sheriff Sam DeGheyn suspects him. Emma, certain that the current murder is somehow related to the drowning death of Fern's cousin Mary-Evelyn Devereau 40 years earlier, sets out to prove Ben Queen's innocence. While the mystery lacks both credibility and suspense, Emma's domestic life is entertaining. Left to run her family's hotel while her mother vacations in Florida, the plucky, philosophical Emma creates exotic drinks for her 91-year-old great-aunt, Aurora Paradise; reluctantly agrees to play the deus ex machina in her brother Will's offbeat production of Medea; and hides mushrooms in the meatloaf of the mean-spirited hotel patron, Miss Bertha. Recommended for public libraries. Jane la Plante, Minot State Univ., ND Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
It's been five years since prodigious preteen sleuth Emma Graham debuted in Hotel Paradise (1996), but this equally appealing sequel from Richard Jury's creator (The Lamorna Wink, 1999, etc.) is set only a week later. Not that it hasn't been an eventful week. Ben Queen, who served 20 years for shooting his wife Rose to death only to be accused of killing his daughter Fern shortly after his release from prison, is still on the run; Sam DeGheyn, the kindly sheriff of La Porte, Maryland, is still equally incapable of catching him; and Emma, part-time waitress at her family's moldering hotel, is still firmly convinced of his innocence. In order to vindicate Ben, Emma has to go back not merely a generation to Rose's death, but two generations to the drowning of Mary-Evelyn Devereau, niece of Rose's three half-sisters. Feeling an uncanny kinship with Mary-Evelyn, who died at her own age of 12, Emma is still darting off from the Hotel Paradise to search long-abandoned houses for clues and seek out ancient witnesses, some of them seeming equally abandoned, for evidence. Her interrogation tactics are formidably ingenious. Ferried around town by a skeptical cabbie, she asks polite questions on behalf of nonexistent relatives, pretends she's interviewing locals for a class project, and even purchases 50 pounds of fertilizer in the hope of establishing Ben's alibi for Rose's murder. Making the best of her mother's absence in Florida, Emma returns to the hotel only often enough to taint a fussy boarder's meals in ever more inventive ways and join rehearsals for her brother Will's musical production of Medea—a choice that's more appropriatethanshe knows—en route to a finale thatwill show just how fatal her resemblance to Mary-Evelyn can be. A tour de force whose cobwebby little mystery, less sequel than remake, is fleshed out with dozens of memorably Dickensian grotesques.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Emma Graham Series , #2
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

A dented cup (Chapter 1)

I'm sitting here where you left me hardly more than a week ago. Every day and nearly every night I've been here on the low stone wall by the spring. I sit near the little alcove where spring water runs from a pipe jutting out of the stone. There's a metal cup dented from years of use that sits beneath the pipe and catches the water so that people can drink it. The cup has been around as long as I have. It's as if the alcove were its room, and people can take it out and drink from it and return it. It's amazing that in all of this time, in all of these years, it's never been stolen.

Why would anyone bother stealing a dented tin cup? Because there are some things that go beyond reason-like the Girl, appearing and disappearing; like knowing Ben Queen didn't kill anyone; like Do-X-machines; like vengeance. Probably, you've forgotten most of what happened, but you might remember Fern Queen being shot and killed over by Mirror Pond. That's on White's Bridge Road. You might remember because people think murder is more important than anything (except maybe sex).

I asked my mother, who's lived all of her life at the hotel, about the cup, and she said, "What cup?" So there doesn't seem much point in asking about it. In the alcove where the cup rests, I found the Artist George tube taken from the Mr. Ree game and put here by Persons Unknown (yet I think it must have been the Girl) to communicate something to me, maybe to tell me, You're on the right track, keep going, or maybe just to say, I'm here.

I imagine it was I'm here, for if I were to tell anyone there was such a person and she was here, they'd say the opposite: No, she isn't. That's what Ben Queen said about her, but he had a particular reason: he didn't want anybody, especially the police, to know she was around. He was trying to protect her. So he pretended there was no such person, and I pretended I went along with that, and both of us knew we were both pretending. We both knew we knew there was such a person.

When there's a great mystery you wish to protect-that is, a mystery you want to keep people from tearing to ribbons-then you've got to keep the wrong people away from it. You go about solving it in a roundabout way. You sometimes ask questions of the wrong people, people who know nothing, for instance, and although you eventually come to an answer, it will take much longer to get to it.

But why is this? Why would I go about trying to solve it in this roundabout way? Maybe the answer wouldn't mean the same thing to me if I didn't ask the questions in my own way, and of the people I ask them of. Or maybe some part of me doesn't want to know the answer. Or maybe both.

It's been forty years since the Tragedy. That's the way people say it, in that awed, excited way you know means they wish it would happen all over again. Most people seem to have forgotten, or perhaps never knew there were two Tragedies, perhaps because one of them happened in Spirit Lake and one in Cold Flat Junction. Now, if you include the murder of Fern Queen, there are three Tragedies.

Cold Flat Junction. It's the kind of place you might look out on from a train window and think, Thank God I don't live there, what a boring town, what an empty place. It is an empty place, and maybe even a boring one, sometimes; but I think you'd be wrong to pass it by; you should alight from the train and stay awhile, which is what I did.

There's something about the place itself that I feel when I sit on one of the benches on the railroad platform and look off over the empty land to that line of navy blue trees so far away. The land and all of the woebegone town seem stripped of a protective layer that other places have and can hide behind. It's the layer of busy-ness, profit, community pride; bunting on July the fourth; flower baskets hanging from lampposts in the spring, all ballooning up with civic pride. Cold Flat Junction has shed all of this, if it ever had it.

I cannot let go of them, these Tragedies. I can't let go of a thing-a puzzle, a person, a place. Once it gets my attention, I have to keep worrying it until it comes clear. I have to hang on, and it makes life really tiring. I work on these questions down in the Pink Elephant, a small chilly room which was once used for cocktail parties underneath the hotel dining room. The room's cold stone walls are painted pink, and there's a long wooden picnic bench and hurricane lamps. The candles give the room atmosphere. Cobwebs and dust and ghosts help too.

Ghosts do not frighten me (as long as I don't have to see them). Ghosts are said to haunt places where they died, if they died with things on their minds that they have to find answers to. I hope they find their answers. As for me, I see myself wrinkled and twiglike and dying-well, dying, anyway-still with this weary worrying problem on my mind, and then coming back and haunting the Devereau house, wondering about Rose, Mary-Evelyn, Ben Queen, and Fern-to say nothing of the Girl.

But you've probably forgotten all this as you've been going about your own business. Probably, you've forgotten my name, too, which is Emma Graham. I'm twelve years old. And if you think I shouldn't have waited so long to tell you more of this story, just remember:

I haven't been away. You have.

—Reprinted from Cold Flat Junction by Martha Grimes by permission of Viking Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2001 by Martha Grimes. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"A superior writer." —The New York Times Book Review

"Grimes brings every corner of Cold Flat Junction to vivid life." —Baltimore Sun

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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Cold Flat Junction (Emma Graham Series #2) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this book, but it was hard to 'get into.' It was fairly scattered, especially in the beginning. There was no way to tell when or where this story takes place. Eventually, I took a clue¿ that the character ate a 3Musketeers bar with three flavors in it¿ did some research and learned that the candy went to a single flavor in 1945. I shouldn't have had to work so hard. The plot has a LOT of holes in it. Although I enjoyed the main character of Emma very much, parts got somewhat repetitive. The other characters tended to be a little 'too' quirky and several were totally unbelievable. When I read this book I did not realize it was part of a series.
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Wegby More than 1 year ago
Emma Graham, her second appearance here, is a very well articulated character with grand potential, and quite a marked contrast with the folks in the comfortable Richard Jury books. Extraordinary portrayal of a rich and real setting for Emma and company, the physical world and human stress. What we expect from Martha Grimes, writing that is both compelling and civil. No false notes whatever. More please.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I come across this audio book and it is the best. A great story told through the thoughts of a child Emma. You can relate with this story telling of a missing link in the chain of this story. A true blue link to a hidden out come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a rare book. The characters are superbly drawn. The murders are just incidental to a wonderful story of a little girl and her wild and flamboyant family. The hotel is the main character and it is peopled by 'Real Characters.' Forget Jury give me more Hotel Paradise books!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you¿re looking for another Richard Jury mystery, this isn¿t it. Period. However, that said, this is Martha Grimes writing as Martha Grimes, and an excellent job she does, too. (There¿s no compelling reason all her books have to be about Jury & the Long Pid Gang--much as we wish they were!) In ¿Cold Flat Junction,¿ Grimes returns to the scene, as it were, from an earlier book (which did involve Jury) called ¿Hotel Paradise.¿ In an interview in October, 1999, Grimes explained that she was returning to that scene, not that she was tired of Jury, but that she felt that this story needed to be told, as well. Here, we find young Emma Graham, 12 years old (and most curious!), and a sleuth in her own ¿write.¿ The setting is small town America (Grimes is, surprisingly, American) and picks up some three weeks after ¿Hotel Paradise¿ ends. Emma, precocious that she is, sets out to investigate not one, but three family murders. Sound like too much? Surprisingly not. Grimes, truly, is in good from here (yes, yes, get on with it: it¿s NOT Richard Jury!) and with the precision of a talented, if not competent, surgeon, she makes ¿Cold Flat Junction¿ a worthy read. Grimes¿ style is fresh, filled with good literary allusions and at times a sharp wit. While the book, granted, is not her masterpiece (maybe ¿Jerusalem Inn¿? Yes--it¿s Jury!), Grimes holds her own--and she commands a large literary field--with this one. Read it with an open mind. Besides, she also stated that Richard will be back!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Twelve-year old Emma Graham recognizes that her small Maryland hometown is a boring COLD FLAT JUNCTION that travelers pass through with a thank you prayer that they do not live there. Besides toiling at the family hotel and attending school, Emma gains her only pleasure from investigating mysteries (see HOTEL PARADISE) especially since she is convinced that the kind sheriff can never correctly solve them.

Just after Ben Queen is released from prison after two decades of time for the murder of his wife Rose, he quickly falls under suspicion of killing their daughter. Emma knows Ben did not commit the current homicide and begins to believe he did not do the other either. She starts her own inquiries going back to the original event that occurred over forty years ago that she feels triggered the subsequent homicides.

The second Emma Graham amateur sleuth investigation is a charming tale that cleverly uses a who-done-it to provide a coming of age novel. The story line is fun, amusing, and entertaining as readers observe Emma playing her trade in an innocent air while doing her hotel chores. Detective purists may not enjoy Emma¿s introspective asides, but those who want a wider plot will find her internal comments quite enlightening. Martha Grimes shows the depth of her talent as she takes a different kind of hero than her Richard Jury books, but turns her into an appealing investigator.

Harriet Klausner