February 12, 2011
Another intrepid and observant adolescent, Emma Graham, explored decades-old linked mysteries in Martha Grimes’ 2005 book “Belle Ruin.” But it was to no avail, and she carries on in Grimes’ “Fadeaway Girl” (Viking, 323 pp., $26.95). (The title refers to the mystery, but it also echoes a style of drawing that creates an illusory girl who fades into the background.)
Like Flavia, Emma has multiple talents — in this case, waitress (in her mother’s hotel) and inquisitive reporter (for a local paper). She scours her patch of rural Maryland, interviewing some colorful and beautifully realized characters, for clues to the old puzzle, which involved an apparent kidnapping, a burned-out building, and unexplained deaths.
Knowledge of Emma’s previous doings will help immensely here. As with Flavia above, so will a willingness to accept her startlingly adult perceptions.
That said, Grimes is, as usual, in sure-footed and inventive form.
Adam Woog’s column on crimeand mystery fiction appears on the second Sunday of the month in The Seattle Times.