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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Importance of Names

“Writing a mystery is more difficult than other kinds of books because a mystery has a certain framework that must be superimposed over the story.” – Martha Grimes

Grimes was born in Pittsburgh, PA, on this date in 1931, a fact that sometimes shocks her readers – not that she was born in Pittsburgh, but that she was born in America.  That’s because many of her best-known mysteries feature Scotland Yard detective Richard Jury and most people thought she was British.

Grimes, who spent much of her youth in Western Maryland, where her mother owned a hotel, earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland.  And her “Emma Graham” series of novels is set in a Maryland hotel that seems very familiar to those who have ever been to her mom’s hotel.   Named “Grand Master” by the Mystery Writers of America, Grimes also has a Mystery Writer of the Year Award for her novel The Anodyne Necklace.  
                                              Each of her Jury mysteries is named after a pub, and while she didn’t intend to have her hero do a story in the U.S., one just seemed to come naturally.

“In Baltimore,” she said,  “I was walking with a friend who was playing at a pub he kept referring to as the Horse. But when I saw the sign 'The Horse You Came In On' - I thought, 'My God.' I had no intention of ever setting a Jury novel in the U.S., but when I saw that, I thought, 'That's it.' The names are very important.”

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