Emma Graham returns in Fadeaway Girl

February 20th, 2011 Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Fiction, Kelly, Mystery

Fadeaway GirlA while back, I was talking with a friend about novels for adults with young protagonists. We both thought of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird as an example, but I realize now I should have thought of Emma Graham. Martha Grimes’ series featuring Emma (Hotel Paradise, Cold Flat Junction, Belle Ruin) uses a child’s perspective to illuminate an adult world.

Twelve-year Emma lives in a decaying hotel whose better days are long gone. She too looks toward the past, solving mysteries that have long since faded into the background. Emma burrows into people’s lives, getting them to reminisce over certain events. She fills in the blanks and by listening to multiple views of people and situations, manages to find the true story.

If you haven’t read the three previous novels in this series, then don’t read Fadeaway Girl until you’ve had a chance to pick up the other three novels. This novel heavily relies on Emma’s discoveries and events from the past three books, as well as imagery (e.g. the waitresses, an element from Emma’s past that tied in well earlier in the series).

Emma’s voice can sound too old for a twelve year old, like when she thinks, “There were times I truly marveled at the size of the Hotel Paradise grounds, as if this were a little world all of its own, and I guess in many ways it was. I wondered if I would still marvel when I was old, like thirty or thirty-five, or if the marveling was just a kid’s thing.” I’m not sure a twelve year old would really analyze about how she “marvels” at things. But overall it works, and Grimes’ descriptions and insight can be lyrical without slowing down the pace of the story.

Some of Emma’s antics, specifically putting spicy food in Miss Bertha’s food, felt a little tired in Belle Ruin, and I wish Grimes would have thought of new trouble for Emma to cause in Fadeaway Girl. Emma’s mother, while distant and seemingly uninvolved in her daughter’s life, should have figured out by now that Emma is purposely terrorizing an elderly client.

If you like literary mystery this is a good series for you. Just be sure to start at the beginning with Hotel Paradise!

Read by: Kelly

Title: Fadeaway Girl
Author: Martha Grimes
Read: February 2011
Source: Public Library

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