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The Train Now Departing

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About the Author

Martha Grimes is the bestselling author of eighteen Richard Jury mysteries and also the acclaimed fiction Foul Matter, Cold Flat Junction, Hotel Paradise, The End of the Pier, and The Train Now Departing.


Two tales of apparently placid women drawn into dark mischief by men. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

As she did in Hotel Paradise, Grimes here eschews the mystery genre, venturing into Anita Brookner territory in two related novellas whose protagonists are lonely women in emotional limbo. The unnamed heroine of the title story is a colorless woman who lives on an inheritance in her comfortable family home in a small town, has given up her job as a teacher and spends her days in passive desperation. A chance meeting with a man who writes travel books leads to her only sustained human contact. The two have platonic late-afternoon lunches during which his attention to his food outweighs her need for conversation; when they do talk, they bicker. She only picks at the rich food, preferring cheese sandwiches at the railway cafe, where she feels more affinity for the waitress than she does for the writer, whom she inwardly assails as a man without depth. It is she herself, however, too timid to travel anywhere, or to do anything at all, who is depthless. The irony of the denouement, where the woman's fear proves more accurate than the writer's offhand denial of danger, proves touching. Though she too represents another narrow existence lived in solitude, Edith Parenger, the protagonist of "When The Mousetrap Closes," is a more appealing, nuanced character. "An ordinary maiden lady" of 52, she is mourning the recent death of her mother, with whom she lived in harmony. When renowned young actor Archie Marchbanks turns up at her neighborhood tearoom, Edith is moved to talk to him. To her amazement, he initiates a weekly tea date during which she quizzes him about his craft. Clues to Archie's motivation emerge when he describes his roles as "the trick of the confidence man," but Edith is slow to understand the implications of his behavior. As Grimes describes these women with restrained sympathy, one is moved by her ability to suggest the aching emotional chasm of apparently solid middle-aged lives. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Cautionary tales, brilliantly told."--The Boston Globe "Ms. Grimes is adept at building suspense...[She] has created a work of value here, a book that expands her art, her reputation--and possibly her audience."--The Richmond-Times Dispatch "Intelligent...They also force us to slow down, to look beneath the cliches about what's hip and what's not...Merits applause."--The Toronto Star "Clear-eyed, nuanced probings into the cruelty of isolation, and though persuasively sad, neither novella is at all sentimental."--Kirkus Reviews "Touching...One is moved by her ability to suggest the aching emotional chasm of apparently solid middle-aged lives." --Publishers Weekly "Atmospheric novellas....full of suspense and surprise. These carefully written little gems showcase Grimes at her best." --Library Journal "Each focuses on a single woman living a mundane, well-ordered life until that seeming contentment is derailed by a man with sinister intent. This is Grimes in prim Barbara Pym clothing."--The Ottawa Citizen

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