Category Archives: Travel

The Dirty Duck

by Martha Grimes

dirty duckThis month our book club decided to read works by Martha Grimes. She was born in Pittsburgh on May 2, 1931. Her   father was the city solicitor and her mother owned the Mountain Lake Hotel in western Maryland. Grimes and her brother spent summers in the country at their mother’s hotel (it was torn down in 1967). Grimes received her bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Maryland and taught in a number of places, including Frostburg State University. Most of Grimes’ novels fall in the subdivision of mysteries sometimes called “cozies.” Her most famous character is Richard Jury, a detective from Scotland Yard. Each of the 22 Jury mysteries are named after a pub, usually found in England. The Dirty Duck is the 4th in the Jury series.

Superintendent Richard Jury must find a serial killer who is targeting Americans from a group touring England. The murderer leaves behind lines of poetry after slashing his victims. Jury must also deal with another possible crime. One of the tourists is James Farraday, a millionaire widower from Maryland, who’s 9 year old boy, Jimmy, has disappeared. Farraday demands that Scotland Yard take over this case from the local police, too. Jury is helped by his friend, Melrose Plant, a rich aristocrat. Children often play an important role in the Jury stories, as in this one with the possible kidnapping of Jimmy. The discussion with Jimmy’s teenage sister, Penny, shows that Superintendent Jury has a good rapport with children.
It is recommended that you read the Jury series in order, with the earlier mysteries first. The characters change and develop. Events often build on things that happened in previous books. It is easier to follow and less confusing if you get to know the characters along the way. Grimes is a fabulous writer who uses the English language very effectively. Her stories are often complex, containing a large number of colorful characters, which makes it harder to casually follow events. Martha Grimes is a thinking person’s author. The Dirty Duck is an outstanding example of one of her early books. I would strongly recommend her to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

Other books by Martha Grimes read by the book club:
Richard Jury books: Dust (#21), Lamorna Wink (#15), The Old Wine Shades (#20), The Horse You Came In On (#11) and The Old Silent (#10)
Other books: Foul MatterThe Way of the FishesDakota and Hotel Paradise
Book club members who read Martha Grimes:
Pat Kuna, Donna Norseen, Sharon Shaffer, Bill Simmons, Deb Stewart, Barbara Swanson, Linda Troll, and Rae Ann Weaver

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Adult Fiction, Fourth Tuesday Book Club Books, Murder, Mystery, Strong Sense of Place, Travel, Writers

The Dodsworth Adventures

The Dodsworth Adventures Series

By Tim Egan

Published by Houghton Mifflin

Dodsworth in New York © 2007

Dodsworth in Paris © 2008

Dodsworth in London © 2009

 

A Ducky little set of books that take children on a whirlwind trek from New York to Paris, and from Paris to London. Children will be captivated by this Mouse and Duck comedy team.

Dodsworth is getting ready to go on an adventure to Europe, but before he does he needs a hot breakfast. He stops at Hodges’ Cafe to have some of the best pancakes in the world; here he meets Hodges’ crazy duck. This duck is going to give Dodsworth more of an adventure than he ever planned for.

In “Dodsworth in New York” the duck hitches a ride with Dodsworth to New York City and he ends up chasing the duck all over the city. He runs up Wall Street and down Fifth Avenue, past Yankee Stadium and into the Statue of Liberty. In the end they both end up on a boat bound for Europe. “In Paris” Dodsworth and the Duck stay in the Chateau de Paris, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, and visit the Eifel tower all the while participating in some very French activities like eating, painting, and riding a bicycle. And finally, “in London” Dodsworth and the duck get separated and Dodsworth confuses the Queen’s royal duck for Hodges’ duck and follows her around London on a big red bus learning things about London Bridge and Big Ben. In the end Dodsworth and the Duck get the immeasurable privilege of meeting the Queen of England.

The Dodsworth Adventures are a fun way to introduce children 6 and up to the cultural and geographic landmarks of New York, Paris, and London. In addition Egan does a wonderful job of weaving different forms of transportation in to these stories which will make for even more conversation. Egan’s illustrations match the stories with there simple, cute, and quirky characters and images. Each book features that crazy duck creating some comic situation for the straight man, Dodsworth, to navigate, and in each book the mouse and the duck grow closer together.

One thing that stands out most in these books though, is that while travel can be fun, it is even more enjoyable when there is someone to share it with, even if that someone is a crazy, troublesome duck. I can’t wait to see what these to do when they get to Rome.

Leave a comment

Filed under Adventure, Children's Picture Books, Friends, Geography, I Can Read/Young Chapter Books, Nature/Animals, People & Places, Transportation, Travel