"Although there were no murders andalas!no
Sheriff DeGheyn, Hotel Paradise is otherwise the
story of my 12-year-old life." Born in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania (where her father was the City Solicitor),
Martha Grimes spent every summer at her mother's hotel in
Western Maryland. Her favorite memories of that time are her
mother's cooking and her brother's theatrical productions in
the big garage behind the hotel to which she was rarely
Grown-up, she now spends her time in Washington, D.C. with
many side-trips to England.
A long-time Anglophile, it was her first poem in Send
Bygraves that inspired her to turn from poetry to
mystery novels. Martha sent the novel "over the transom"
(sans agent) to several publishers. In 1979 an editor at
Little, Brown, Inc. found the book in the "slush pile"
(where unsolicited manuscripts are dumped for editorial
assistants to read) and offered to publish The Man with
a Load of Mischief with a first printing of 3,000
copies. The Man with a Load of Mischief was published
in 1981, and from there Martha Grimes has published a book
(sometimes two) every year for the past 25 years.
By her fourth and fifth books Martha received major review
attention that not only lauded her ability as an American to
write authentic British mysteries, but also to merge the
conceits of the British form with the tone and atmosphere of
the American. "Help the Poor Struggler is rather an
American novel, with brooding and cynical overtones of
Raymond Chandler" (Time magazine, 7/15/85). In 1987 The
Five Bells & Bladebone was her "breakthrough" book,
landing on the New York Times bestseller list. Her
next two books, The Old Silent and The Old
Contemptibles, were also New York Times
bestsellers in both hardcover and paperback. Of The Old
Contemptibles, The New York Times Book Review
said: "The author keeps us enthralled with the rich interior
and exterior lives of her characters in this emotionally
stormy family saga."
In 1992, with the publication of The End of the Pier,
Martha departed from her beloved cast of characters in the
Richard Jury series to write a contemporary novel based in
Western Maryland that combined a serial killer murder
mystery with a poignant story of the problems in a mother
and son relationship. The book established her as a writer
of merit outside of mystery fiction "The End of
the Pier is two books in one: a juicy mystery novel and
an exploration of human behavior that few readers will
forget" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/7/92). The second book
in the series Hotel Paradise was
published four years later and was praised by the critics as
"A place not unlike the novel itself: outside of time,
almost unbelievable, utterly engaging" (Washington Post,
5/26/97) and "Meandering and atmospheric, the novel reads
with the ease of daydream ... the author proves herself a
writer of delicate sensibility whose work is notable for its
delightfully quirky details, insightful perceptions into
human relationships and graceful prose (Los Angeles
Times, 5/26/96). ).
Cold Flat Junction (2001) and Belle Ruin
(2005) continues the adventures of twelve-year-old
detective, Emma Graham. "A tour de force-cobwebby mystery,"
according to Kirkus, "Cold Flat Junction melds
classic mystery with a coming-of-age story in which the
young protagonist must face the hard and often shocking
realities of adulthood as she uncovers good and evil in
their many guises and tries to set the past at rest"
(Baltimore Sun, 1/28/01). Grimes third book in the
series will be published March, 2001.
In 1993, with the release of The Horse You Came in
On, Martha brought Richard Jury and Melrose Plant to
America for the first time to the pub of that name in
Baltimore, Maryland. It was such a success and fan reaction
was so positive (the Mayor of Baltimore gave her the key to
the city and declared August 12, 1993 as "Martha Grimes
Day") she brought Richard Jury over again in Rainbow's
End to investigate a mystery that leads him to Sante Fe,
In 1997, Martha returned Richard Jury and Melrose Plant to
England in The Case Has Altered. The New York
Times Book Review applauded the book's "enchanting
additions tot he Grimes gallery of eccentric characters,"
and it was named a New York Times Notable Book of the
The Stargazey, the fifteenth Richard Jury novel,
published on November 5, 1998, become an instant bestseller
and USA Today praised, "Like good British Tweed,
Martha Grimes' wintry new mystery envelops the reader in all
the comforts of a serviceable English whodunit."
The publication of Biting the Moon on April 15, 1999,
marked a departure for Grimes, the first book in a new
series of books focusing on the prevention of animal abuse
and featuring two teenage heroines. She donated two-thirds
of her royalties to animal abuse organizations across the
country, and said, "I do not believe that people are
indifferent to the welfare of animals, possibly, the exact
opposite is true - people are so affected by stories,
pictures, accounts of animal abuse that they simply do not
want to know."
With the publication of The Blue Last in September,
2001, Ms. Grimes found herself back on the New York
Times Bestseller list for the first time in a decade.
She received more fan mail than for any other book by
distraught fans worried about the "death" of Richard Jury.
Her following three Jury mysteries, The Grave Maurice
(2003), The Winds of Change (2004), The Old Wine
Shades (2006) and Dust (2007) were also New
York Times best sellers.
In 2003, Grimes rocked the publishing world with her send up
of the publishing world in her hilarious Foul Matter,
which poked fun at editors, agents, and writers alike.
Martha Grimes has one son, a public relations executive in
Washington, DC, her daughter-in-law, and two grandsons.
The Black Cat, February 2011
Dakota, February 2009
Dust, December 2007
The Man With a Load of Mischief, September 2007
The Old Wine Shades, March 2007
Belle Ruin, September 2006
The Old Silent, August 2006
The Old Contemptibles, April 2006
The Winds Of Change, November 2005
The Deer Leap, June 2005
Help The Poor Struggler, February 2005
Jerusalem Inn, November 2004
Foul Matter, September 2004
The Dirty Duck, June 2004
The Anodyne Necklace, January 2004
The Grave Maurice, September 2003
The Old Fox Deceiv'd, June 2003
The Man With a Load of Mischief, February 2003
The Blue Last, September 2002
The Five Bells and Bladebone, June 2002
Cold Flat Junction, February 2002
I Am the Only Running Footman, October 2001
The Train Now Departing: Two Novellas, June 2001
The Lamorna Wink, September 2000
Biting the Moon, March 2000
The Stargazey, October 1999
The Case Has Altered, November 1998