Saturday, March 14, 2009
Biting the Moon by Martha Grimes
Biting the Moon, Martha Grimes (1999)[****]. I love mysteries, but have a whole different standard for evaluating them; so, for example, four stars for this mystery and four stars for Mansfield Park does not mean that Martha Grimes is in a league with Jane Austen. It just means that, as mysteries go, this is a pretty engaging and readable one. The premise is a tiny bit implausible, but I was able to accept it, and the rest of the story pulled me along. Andi is a teenager who wakes up one morning in a bed and breakfast in Santa Fe, with no idea who she is, why she is there, or anything else about herself. The one thing she is sure of is that "daddy," as described by the hostess of the B&B, is bad news, and Andi decides not to wait around for him to return from his errands. She hitches a ride to the Sandia mountains, where she lives for many months in an abandoned cabin, rescuing coyotes from leg hold traps. On a trip to town for supplies, she is befriended by fourteen year old Mary, who just happens to be an orphan being raised by a housekeeper who just happens to be going away on vacation, leaving Mary pretty much alone, with only a flakey neighbor to check in on her. With just the barest of clues, Andi and Mary embark on a road trip to find "daddy" and, they hope, learn who Andi is, and what happened to her. Along the way they also wage their own personal crusade against animal cruelty, and discover some of the seamier sides of human baseness, in the form of dog fights and "canned" big game hunts. There is some nice nature writing, and interesting, fully-drawn minor characters. Julie is reading the sequel, called Dakota; I don't think I'll jump right into that, but I think I will try Grimes's British Richard Jury mysteries, a few of which I think I've read, but don't remember.