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Hotel Paradise
Hotel Paradise
Hotel Paradise
Электронная книга516 страниц9 часов

Hotel Paradise

Автор Martha Grimes

Рейтинг: 3.5 из 5 звезд



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A once-fashionable now fading resort hotel. A spinster aunt living in the attic. Dirt roads that lead to dead ends. A house full of secrets and old, dusty furnishings, uninhabited for almost half a century. A twelve-year-old girl with a passion for double-chocolate ice-cream sodas, and decaying lake-fronts, and an obsession with the death by drowning of another young girl, forty years before. Hotel Paradise is a delicate yet excruciating view of the pettiness and cruelty of small town America. It is a look at the difficult decisions a young girl must make on her way to becoming an adult and the choices she must make between right and wrong, between love and truth, between life and death.
Дата выпуска13 авг. 2013 г.
Hotel Paradise
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Martha Grimes

Bestselling author Martha Grimes is the author of more than thirty books, including twenty-two Richard Jury mysteries. She is also the author of Double Double, a dual memoir of alcoholism written with her son. The winner of the 2012 Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award, Grimes lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Отзывы о Hotel Paradise

Рейтинг: 3.5625 из 5 звезд

16 оценок11 отзывов

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  • Рейтинг: 3 из 5 звезд
    I originally liked Hotel Paradise. I liked the descriptive way it was written. I liked the 12 year old protagonist who had the insight of an older person. I liked the idea that Grimes started the book by our protagonist saying she thought she knew who killed Fern but then didn't mention Fern again for another 150 pages, so you got to wondering.But that, too, was a problem because the book dragged. I stopped reading at page 217, not wanting to read another 130 pages to get to the end. The plot inched along instead of moving at a reasonable pace.I'm a Martha Grimes/Richard Jury fan and the book flap of Hotel Paradise got my attention, but the book just couldn't hold it.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    I'm waiting for the third book Martha Grimes has written about Emma Graham to be posted from America. Meanwhile I am re-reading this and Cold Flat Junction. I suspect these books are set in scenes the author is familiar with from childhood because the writing evokes the place and time so richly. This might be why I place them so high in my estimation - far above anything else I have read by the same author. I am totally captivated by the 'I' of the story and love the shifting sands of knowledge through the books and how the books both stand so complete without pinning anything down. My partner read them in the 'wrong' order and enjoyed them just as much - in fact he rated Cold Flat Junction highest and I put Hotel Paradise marginally on top.
  • Рейтинг: 3 из 5 звезд
    Bored by her series mysteries? This is a different, very interesting mystery and coming of age novel set somewhere kind of rural and kind of scenic. A fun read.
  • Рейтинг: 3 из 5 звезд
    Interesting book but slow over all.
  • Рейтинг: 3 из 5 звезд
    Hotel Paradise was better than I expected though not as good as some of the critics quoted on the cover claim. The characters are engaging, the setting is rich and clear, and the pacing is well done. When she's not waiting tables at the hotel owned by her shut-in great aunt and run by her industrious mother, twelve-year-old Emma helps the sheriff write parking tickets, sips soda at the town diner, and generally pokes her nose in where it doesn't belong. Fascinated by a young girl who drowned mysteriously 40 years prior, Emma sifts through old newspapers, visits the girl's abandoned family home, and interviews just about everyone over 40 in her town and the next. Like young Flavia De Luce of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Emma doesn't relate to kids her own age, but keeps to herself and lives more in her own head than anywhere else. Although I'm a Flavia fan, Grimes writes Emma so believably it's easy to forget all about Flavia while reading. I wouldn't say Grimes writing is "poetry" as one critic suggests, but Emma is fully human - excited, confused, variable, in love with her mother's cooking, growing up in fits and starts, and sometimes questioning her own sanity - and I'm looking forward to finding out where she goes next.
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    Hotel Paradise is a very pretty, meandering book. The writing style is excellent but does occasionally get very dreary. The mystery is more of a background to the story, a place holder set out to stabilize things while we get to tour through the vast cast of characters.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    Every time I read this book, I love it a little bit more. Grimes' 12-year-old protagonist, whose name we do not learn until the last chapter, investigates the local mystery of the death by drowning of another 12-year-old girl 40 years ago. She traverses the area around her small Appalachian town of Spirit Lake, speaks to interesting people, and describes her adventures in a way that is both poetic and true to her age. In fact, one of the most remarkable things about the book is the voice of its narrator. She is at once wise beyond her years, immature, and precocious. She admits she is not privy to information about sex, the proper names of flora and fauna, or the seemingly contradictory motivations of the grownups around her. However, she seems to get on best with people who are much, much older than her and has a way of getting them to talk to her like she is a person instead of just a kid. She muses about herself and what qualities she must have to be able to blend in at some times, and at other times inspire folks to take notice. I just love her, if you can't tell. When I was younger, I used to pretend I was her and try to start conversations with old folks. Unfortunately (for me), she had much more interesting people around to talk to!
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    Finished today: Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes. I've read a few of her Inspector Jury novels and found them interesting, but not enough to zealously pursue the entire series. This novel was very good, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Narrated by a 12-year-old girl in a small town investigating the mysterious death of a 12-year-old girl forty years ago, it reminds me a great deal of To Kill a Mickingbird. That same exquisite portrayal of largely unspoken events with only limited understanding by the protagonist and a wonderful internal monologue that certainly sounds realistic and often quite amusing. This is an even-paced exploration of small-town life, growing into maturity, and the mysteries of life. Unlike many modern novels, this story does not rely on myriad characters, crescendoing suspense and danger, or fast-paced, multitudinous, and ever-twisting plotlines, with everything neatly displayed and wrapped in a bow at the end. This story ends with greater clarity and understanding, true, but many details remain only hinted at or unresolved, reflecting the fact that life consists of many uncertainties, even at the best of times.
  • Рейтинг: 1 из 5 звезд
    This was the second book that I picked for the 12 hour mystery-thon. I tried and read 85 pages but the story and style just couldn't grab my attention. I could never recommend this book to anyone. I do not see what the hype about this series could ever be about..
  • Рейтинг: 1 из 5 звезд
    I tried to read this and just couldn't get into it. So much description and so little happening. It left me bored and I only managed to read 88 pages.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    One of my favorite books by a favorite author. Great story.

Предварительный просмотр книги

Hotel Paradise - Martha Grimes


It’s a blowing day. The wind feels weighted and the air like iron. As I walked the half-mile to the lake this evening, I could hardly push against this heaviness that settled on me like a coat of snow.

I have been sitting on this low mossy wall for an hour, but I can’t see the Devereau house, or if there is any light in it. The woods are so thick by the spring, they blot out the other side of the lake like ink spilled across the page I’m reading. This time I brought a book; I mean to wait, though I don’t think he’ll be back.

I wonder now if there are mysteries never meant to be solved. Or not meant to be solved to a certainty, for I do have some idea of what must have happened near White’s Bridge. I’ve found out the answers to a lot of questions, but those answers pull more questions out of hiding, ones I never would have thought to ask.

I think I know how Fern died and who killed her. But I don’t know why, exactly. I have to guess at the why. Even if I was absolutely sure, I would still not tell the police, not even the Sheriff. Some things mean more than the law. I have not sat through all of Clint Eastwood’s old westerns for nothing. Clint doesn’t always hound a rustler to his grave, not if there’s a reason to let him off more important than a dozen law-abiding reasons to arrest him. Call it cowpoke justice. I hear people say It’s between me and my conscience, but I think it’s awful risky to go by your conscience, for your conscience can be pretty leaky. I think Clint would agree.

Anyway. That was the decision I made this morning, not to tell the Sheriff, and it weighs mighty heavily upon me. What I discovered over the past couple of weeks is that what I think is a difficult decision to make is really a difficult decision to make. And what I think is hard and painful is truly hard and painful.

I guess that doesn’t sound like much learnt, but I think it is.


My mother is not a Paradise. Her grandfather (my great-grandfather) married into this family of hotel owners. And it really smarts my great-aunt Paradise that the Hotel Paradise does not belong to her a hundred percent. Because my great-uncle long ago got mad at everybody in the Paradise family, he made up some complicated will where the running of the place fell into my father’s hands and upon his death, into my mother’s. That is not to say that my mother owns the place. It is all extremely complicated, the legal ins and outs of the ownership of the Hotel Paradise, and always has been. My friend Maud Chadwick said thank God no one ever tried to go to court over it, because it would make Bleak House look like a parking citation.

Of course, my great-aunt insists she owns the Hotel Paradise. She’s ninety-one years old, and head of the hotel in name only, for she doesn’t do anything except keep to her rooms up on the fourth floor, playing cards and drinking, and complaining about what everybody else does. The work of running the Hotel Paradise is left to my mother and, now, to my mother’s business partner, Lola Davidow.

Lola Davidow, who came on the scene only five years ago, said the name should be changed from the Hotel Paradise to the Spirit Lake Hotel. This was not unreasonable, since except for Aurora the Paradises are long gone from Spirit Lake; but when my great-aunt heard about Lola’s idea, she raised such a ruckus everybody was afraid she might just come downstairs. My mother, being much more diplomatic than Mrs. Davidow, tried to appease my great-aunt Paradise by making her the Angel Pie my mother is famous for. Lola just grumbled, saying that it wasn’t Paradise money that was keeping the hotel afloat (which was perfectly true), or the gin and whisky flowing (true again), but the sweat of our brows (true of my mother, not of Lola, whose own brow stays pretty dry).

I myself have to suffer enough brow sweating, working seven days a week waiting tables, besides having to put up with Lola Davidow and her horrible daughter, that I know what it feels like. Brow sweating and browbeating is a kind of treatment that I think just gets handed down from generation to generation. There is no one for me to beat up on, though, for I am only twelve, and the youngest of the family.

The Hotel Paradise is an old summer hotel set in ten acres of woods and really ramshackle without giving the appearance of being run-down (although the local fire department disagrees). My mother is too clever at sewing slipcovers and curtains to allow the hotel to go to seed. It is full of beautiful old furniture and huge fireplaces whose flames paint the slippery flowered chintzes and gilt mirrors in patterns of gold and rose. In late afternoons, nothing for pure prettiness can match the shafts of winter sunlight piercing the long windows of the lobby, or flooding through the rose glass of the music room and turning the keys of the upright piano to a pale gold.

The hotel is not located in the larger town of La Porte, but in a smaller village about two miles distant called Spirit Lake. At five thousand feet above sea level, the summers are warm and dry and clear and the winters cold and dry and clear. Plenty of sun, plenty of snow. From October through March in Spirit Lake there always seems to be the scent of snow in the air. I like that scent. The sky in winter is oyster-colored, and sometimes light appears like shied stones in water, bright and quick.

The family (for the Davidows, owing to the association, are becoming part of it) consists of my mother, my great-aunt Paradise, my brother Will, Lola Davidow, and her daughter, the awful Ree-Jane. And me, of course.

We children are not allowed to use shortenings: Grandma, Mom, Mommy, Dad, and such. It’s as if we are meant to keep our relationship at arm’s length, formal. Not that my mother—or my father, who’s dead now—doesn’t love me and my brother; but it’s a kind of white-gloved, black-tie, swallow-tail-coated love that walks ahead and holds doors, not the sort that crashes through them. I’m not complaining; there are a lot of advantages to that distant sort of love: for example, you don’t get knocked around and screamed at. But I thought it was stupid to have to wrap my tongue around Great-Aunt Paradise, so to me (in my own mind, that is) she is just plain Aurora.

Long ago, Aurora Paradise took over the fourth floor of the hotel, a half-dozen catacomblike rooms, and established herself there. With a case of Gordon’s gin and one of Johnnie Walker and a dumbwaiter, I guess she’s content enough. The dumbwaiter was probably put in ages before for laundry, but Aurora uses it for pulling up the meals furnished by my mother, who everyone agrees is the best cook in the state.

From this you might think that Aurora lives peacefully with her gin and her fried chicken dinners, but don’t kid yourself. Aurora Paradise puts me in mind of a black bird, a rook or a raven, the sort you see in pictures of the Tower of London, perched up there. Up there on the top floor, she thinks she can spread her black wings and cast a shadow over the whole ten acres. Not over me, though, for I caught onto her.

But Aurora Paradise can’t outdo for sheer meanness the Davidow daughter, Ree-Jane. Of course, her name isn’t really Ree-Jane; it’s Regina Jane Davidow. I have always thought the name itself rather wonderful and am only sorry it belongs to her. But somewhere in some book, Regina Jane Davidow discovered a reference to a great French comedienne whose name was Réjane. So she christened herself with this French name and insisted that she be called by it. For some time, she refused to answer if anyone called her by her real name. (I rarely called.) Not only were we all to call her this, we were to give it the French pronunciation, which meant that the was supposed to come "from the throat—no, the throat, the throat!" so that what came out was a sound caught between an r and a w. She kept giving me lessons, which I had no intention of mastering, in the impossible French r sound, by running her fingers up her own throat and emitting small growls that one of the guests’ dog loved and tried to answer. Well, I’ve never seen a French comedienne, but there’s one thing I’m certain one is not, and that is Regina Jane Davidow, who has as much humor in her as a cow in the rain.

Now, I’m sure she’s sorry she ever found it, but back then she thought the name Réjane was really elegant, in keeping with her life plans, a name that fit all of the things she would one day become: a famous model, an American heroine living in Paris or owning a castle in the south of France, or the Countess of Kent in England. We had an argument about the Countess of Kent, for I assumed the countess would be married to a count. She always acts as if my ignorance is just the funniest thing in the world, and told me (snobbishly) that I had no idea of titles at all, and that, though the wife would be a countess, the man is an earl. I happened to be reading a book about vampires, and I asked, Oh, you mean like Earl Dracula? (That made her really mad.) So now there was to be added to her list of worldly accomplishments—that future structure, that brick shithouse she is always building in her mind—the role of famous comedienne, Réjane Somebody.

Well, it’s dangerous to go making up names for yourself; you’ve got to be careful, for the change might stick in the worst way. That’s what happened with Ree-Jane. It is of course such a totally unheard-of name that, naturally, the townfolks, who have never been tutored in the French pronunciation, assumed her name was Rae Jane and called her that. I admit this misunderstanding was mostly my fault, since I had no intention of hawking up that r sound and just went around calling her Ree-Jane to everybody in town. When they hear the Ree, they translate it to Rae, and Regina Jane Davidow has never been able to shake it. This infuriates her. It also infuriates her that I make such a big production out of calling her Ree-Jane, never forgetting to give that first syllable just that extra little push and, if I’m calling her down the length of the hotel halls, wail out that e like the place is on fire and we’d better get out: "Reeeeee-Jane, oh Reeeeeeeee-Jane!" She could kill me.

Unfortunately, any dumb fantasy Ree-Jane entertains about her future is fed by the pride of both her mother and (this is harder to understand) mine. That is what I hate, my mother’s making me take a backseat to the Davidows. Ree-Jane is just enough older—four years—to try to lord it over me. I hope that any plots Aurora Paradise is cooking up include getting rid of Ree-Jane Davidow.

•   •   •

There are just two Paradises still living. Aurora has an unmarried sister named Alberta. She’s like a carbon copy of Aurora, though a dozen years younger, and when the two are up there in Aurora’s rooms, I like to sit on the landing of the third floor or, if I feel brave, crawl up a few steps farther to sit and eavesdrop. I sit in a pool of shadow with my skirt pulled down over my knees and listen. What I generally hear is a drone like bees around a hive, and then there might be a sudden clap of laughter, harsh and joyless, and then the drone again. The rumble of the dumbwaiter dragging their white-meat-only chicken dinners skyward serves as a kind of creepy music for the droning talk or shrieking laughter. When Aurora and Alberta get together the dumbwaiter is in constant motion. With her having to send canapes and dishes of olives and (when the fourth floor runs dry) pitchers of martinis up on the dumbwaiter, Lola scarcely has time for her own cocktail hour, usually taken in the back office. Poor souls looking for a room and under the impression we’re running a hotel often get their comeuppance if Lola is into her fourth martini, the one that always seems to convince her the hotel is her castle, and she doesn’t much like people swimming the moat.

I have always thought it speaks well of Lola that occasionally she’s invited to join Aurora for cocktails. I suppose I could be mean and say that these invitations are extended only when Aurora’s supply of Gordon’s gin or Johnnie Walker is running low, but I’m not sure that’s the case. There is something at times actually winning about Lola, a sort of blitheness which is a relief from the grinding work routine that my mother always follows. This is not to say my mother fails by comparison—good Lord, no. If she didn’t have her work routine the whole place would collapse just as the fourth floor fire escape always threatens to do.

One of Aurora’s rooms has a fire escape that she uses as a small balcony. Aurora and Lola Davidow sometimes man the balcony, joined occasionally by our chain-smoking, sixty-year-old desk clerk named Marge Byrd. Marge likes to keep a pint flask under the desk and takes nips from it when business either speeds up or slows down. The three of them sit up there on folding chairs, drunk as loons, hurling down greetings at arrivals coming up the drive. My mother naturally objects to this as unseemly, and so does Lola when Lola’s not up there with Aurora and Marge Byrd. My mother comes out on the porch and then the driveway, looking. Finally, seeing Lola Davidow up there, her hand shading her brow, she calls up some kitchen emergency, real or made-up. The object of this is to let them know that she works while they play, and who can blame her?

So, Aurora can still continue as the head. And I suspect that the visits of Alberta’s are to be taken as board meetings, for the sister has a legal interest in the place also. When she shows up (always unannounced) a couple of times a year, then Aurora has family to join her out on the fire escape. Oh, how they appear out there in their lavender and stiff lace collars and buckled shoes as occasionally they look down and wave!

Lola Davidow sometimes complains (because she isn’t invited, I’m sure) that they’re getting rowdy and maybe we should call the Sheriff’s office. Of course, she’s only kidding, but I wish she’d go ahead and do it sometimes because anything that could get me within a stone’s throw of La Porte’s Sheriff could only be good news.


The county sheriff is the real bright spot in my life. His name is Sam DeGheyn and everyone calls him Sam, except I can’t quite work up the nerve to do it. I call him Sheriff even in the privacy of my own mind. Since he has the important job of peacekeeping and, if it’s needed, criminal chasing, I never want to appear to be wasting his lime by hanging around the courthouse or interrupting him in his daily duties. What I do is help by watching for red flags on the parking meters or checking out cars parked where they shouldn’t be—such as blocking an alley or sitting in a loading zone.

I keep my eye peeled for illegal parking so I can have something to report to the Sheriff. At one time I would have loved a horrible crime happening right at the Hotel Paradise—a shootout, maybe, with Ree-Jane in the crowd looking on from the porch, where she would then be sprayed by machine-gun fire. This would be a legitimate reason for calling the Sheriff. But that never happens.

The one time I honestly could have asked for police help, I didn’t: that was the time I was left alone at the Hotel Paradise for two days while everyone else took off to escort the precious Regina Jane Davidow to visit a friend of hers. My brother, Will, was already off visiting his friend Brownmiller Conroy or he would have been left behind, too.

When I say alone I mean, of course, me and Aurora Paradise, but somehow I couldn’t imagine Aurora coming to my rescue when the hatchet killer came. Imagine yourself as not even yet in your teens and alone in a ninety-eight-room hotel in dead winter. Imagine the possibilities for random noises—the creakings, the scrapings, the foot-falls, the howlings in the woods, the owl sounds, the winds, the bats—and so on. Yet, I didn’t think anything of it—I mean, I was scared, naturally, but I assumed this to be my lot in life. I had to send food up to the fourth floor on the dumbwaiter, and whisky. I was not to bother Aurora myself. She hated visitors. When the delivery was made, I would go to sit as close to the top floor as I could get so as to be near somebody.

I don’t know how Sheriff DeGheyn came to hear about this, but he did. And when he asked me about it, with a look of honest concern, I was casual. Oh, I told him, someone had to take care of the hotel. The Sheriff just shook his head and mentioned words like courage and so forth that I couldn’t apply to what had been my own quivering self sitting on the stairs, but I was immensely pleased. He told me he would have been happy to keep an eye on the place and even come in and have a Coke or coffee with me had he known, and if ever it happened again—but then he stopped and got a set look on his face and somehow I knew it wouldn’t.

Soon after that, my mother asked me if I’d told Sam DeGheyn I’d been left by myself, and I said no, of course not, which was true. The tight look on my mother’s and Lola Davidow’s faces told me that he must have given someone absolute hell. It was worth being in the way of Mrs. Davidow’s terrible temper for a couple of days to know this. (The Sheriff is the only person in three counties who can bawl out Lola Davidow and get away with it.)

I was absolutely flabbergasted that I had managed to call up such concern in anyone, especially the Sheriff, for I was not used to someone’s