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There's plenty to do around La Porte's Hotel Paradise, the small-town hostelry Emma Graham's family has run for a hundred years. Despite her youth, Emma's mother has her helping in the kitchen and waiting tables for the few customers who keep the Paradise in business. But there's not much to think about, and it's no wonder that Emma, spellbound by the recent apparition of a mysterious blond girl, fixes on the story of Mary-Evelyn Devereau, drowned in Spirit Lake when she was 12, Emma's own age. What was Mary-Evelyn doing out alone in a boat at night, wearing one of her best dresses, and why didn't her family report her missing till the next morning? Idly at first, then with a deepening passion, Emma launches an investigation into this forgotten mystery, eagerly questioning anyone who remembers Mary- Evelyn, and poring over every scrap of physical evidence she can find. Extravagant obstacles stand in the way of an inconsequential girl's attempts at detection: Barely anybody around La Porte seems to remember or care about the case at all, and they certainly aren't about to share their recollections with the likes of her. Yet Emma, as a friendly fortuneteller assures her, is "resolute" enough to endure the indifference of everyone in La Porte but Sheriff Sam DeGheyn and to interrogate a pair of subverbal brothers, call endless taxis to nearby Cold Flat Junction, and confront a newly released convict in a magical climax.
The originality here—the convention of a radically disempowered detective set against a densely imagined but indifferent world—will remind some readers of Barbara Vine, others of the Henry James of "In the Cage" and The Awkward Age. It shows off Grimes's gifts for extravagant digression beautifully.
I loved this book. I loved 12-year-old Emma. I loved how her mind works, and it works all the time. I loved all the characters she comes in contact with. I loved the atmosphere and the sense of place. This is not an action mystery, but a slow paced charmer that you don't want to put down until it's done.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 22, 2004
I read the sequal to Hotel Paradise, Cold Flat Junction, before reading Hotel Paradise. I loved them both but really do consider them companian books--the individual who titled their review 'Check out the Holiday Inn' didn't seem to conclude that it was meant to leave something missing--I believe if they read Cold Flat Junction they would have their missing pieces filled it (it also is much more textured than Hotel Paradise). It felt to me that the two books really should've been one, but I enjoyed the characters, visualizations, and language so much that it was well worth the wait for the clarity that the other book gave (though their were some things left again for resolution for the next sequal). Read these books back-to-back--if you enjoy quirky characters and first-person narrative in a child's voice, I believe you will have a wonderful journey.
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Posted October 12, 2013
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Posted June 6, 2012
Posted January 14, 2002
This book is different from other books I have read by Ms. Grimes. And because it was different, I was almost tempted to dismiss it out of hand. But, the engaging character of the 12 year Emma (not named until the end) just kept me reading until the last page because I just had to learn what she would say next and what she would find out about poor Mary-Evelyn and Rose. It certainly left me wanting more and I was very glad to read the sequel Cold Flat Junction. I hope Ms. Grimes writes more books from the eyes of Emma. She is a delight!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 17, 2001
I have never read a Grimes novel before and I loved it! The characters were all so belivable-I especially liked the old aunt upstairs. I loved that the point of veiw was from the 12 year old (she was so realistic!!!) My favorite part had to be the ending-this book would not have been nearly as good if it had been neatly tied up at the end, that just isn't how life goes and this story was about ordinary people living life in a small town.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 6, 2012
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Posted September 11, 2010
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