I finished a pretty good book this past month (Bellweather Rhapsody) where all of the action took place in a hotel just past its prime. The writer was channeling Stephen King’s The Shining, another pretty good book with a focus on an even more atmospheric hotel setting. Then, just a few days ago, I watched The Grand Budapest Hotel, a Wes Anderson film that relies on its hotel setting as a foundation for the ensuing wackiness of the main characters. That got me wondering – what is it about hotels that seems to bring out the crazy in people? Whether sweet or strange or sinister, the following books treat hotels almost as if they were just another character.
At Bertram’s Hotel – Agatha Christie
- On holiday, Miss Marple senses something sinister at Bertram’s Hotel. She’s right: the police believe some of the guests are involved with criminals. Abduction, train robbery, and the murder of the hotel’s doorman confuse the authorities, but Miss Marple deduces the truth.
Bellweather Rhapsody – Kate Racculia
- A young music prodigy goes missing from a hotel room that was the site of an infamous murder-suicide 15 years earlier, renewing trauma for a bridesmaid who witnessed the first crime and rallying an eccentric cast of characters during a snowstorm that traps everyone on the grounds.
Hotel – Arthur Hailey
- During one sultry summer, the St. Gregory Hotel in New Orleans becomes the setting for a series of private and public adventures in romance and intrigue.
Hotel Honolulu – Paul Theroux
- A shabby Hawaiian hotel provides the backdrop for a series of interwoven stories about love, crime, friendship, and family, as seen through the eyes of a down-on-his-luck writer who takes a job as hotel manager.
Hotel New Hampshire – John Irving
- John, the middle son in an eccentric family with five children, one bear, and a dog named Sorrow, describes growing up in a hotel.
Hotel Vendome – Danielle Steel
- Devoting himself to his young daughter and his five-star hotel after his divorce, Hugues Martin reevaluates his prospects when his daughter eventually pursues an education in France and he falls in love with a woman who understands his professional passions.
Northern Light – Jennifer Donnelly
- In 1906, sixteen-year-old Mattie, determined to attend college and be a writer against the wishes of her father and fiance, takes a job at a summer inn where she discovers the truth about the death of a guest. Based on a true story.
Sea of Tears – Nani Power
- The Renaissance Hotel of Washington, D.C., shelters an array of unique characters, from Jedra, a refugee technician from Iraq, to Phyllis, a desk clerk who remembers Heaven, all of them searching for love and meaning in a mysterious and enchanting world.
The Shining – Stephen King
- Jack Torrance sees his stint as winter caretaker of a Colorado hotel as a way back from failure, his wife sees it as a chance to preserve their family, and their five-year-old son sees the evil waiting just for them.
Suite Scarlett – Maureen Johnson
- Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Marvin is stuck in New York City for the summer working at her quirky family’s historic hotel, but her brother’s attractive new friend and a seasonal guest who offers her an intriguing and challenging writing project improve her outlook.
The White Rhino Hotel – Bartle Bull
- It is in colonial Kenya, at Lord Penfold’s White Rhino Hotel, that the paths of these new settlers cross. Here they meet the cunning dwarf Olivio Alevado, a man whose lustful desires and vengeful schemes make him a formidable adversary to his enemies and a subtle ally to his friends. Here the destinies of the gypsy adventurer Anton Rider and the courageous, war-hardened Gwenn Llewelyn intersect. Here hope is corrupted by greed, love by revenge, and loyalty by betrayal as the future is trampled into history.
FICTION – MYSTERY SERIES
Five-Star Mystery Series: Murder at the Universe – Daniel Edward Craig
- When the owner of Universe Hotel in New York is found dead, it is up to the hotel’s Director of Rooms, Trevor Lambert, to preserve the dignity of the hotel while struggling to keep the details of the murder away from a nosy reporter who wants to expose the story on national television.
Emma Graham Series: Hotel Paradise – Martha Grimes
- A 12-year-old girl, waiting at tables in her mother’s hotel, becomes interested in the death, 40 years earlier, of a girl her age. The victim drowned in a nearby lake. So little Emma Graham starts analyzing available evidence, questions old ladies and woodsmen, and through perseverance solves a mystery. By the author of The End of the Pier.
Lighthouse Inn Series: Innkeeping with Murder – Tim Myers
- At the cozy and quirky Hatteras West Inn, innkeeper Alex Winston investigates when one of his guests is found dead at the top of the lighthouse, the first in a series of odd “accidents” that begin to plague the getaway.
The Enders Hotel – Brandon R. Schrand (Idaho Author)
- A memoir of growing up in the rural town of Soda Springs, Idaho, describes life in the dilapidated if historic Enders Hotel, Cafe, and Bar, the colorful and and haunted characters who passed through its doors, and the author’s own struggle to find his own identity in the faces of a never-seen father and desperate boarders.
- A veteran of the hospitality business uses humor and irreverence to describe working in the industry, coming clean on the housekeeping department, the unwritten code of bellhops and what really goes on in a valet parking garage.
Hotel: An American History – A. K. Sandoval-Strausz
- Presents a history of the nineteenth-century first-class hotel, of what hotels have meant to American business, culture, and racial politics.
The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel – Cathy Scott-Clark
- Describes what took place during the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai when terrorists assailed the luxurious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and how the combined efforts of courageous staff and guests helped keep the death toll down.
And, of course…
Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown Ups – Kay Thompson
- Six-year-old Eloise lives with her mother and her English nanny at the Plaza Hotel, where she finds many opportunities to indulge in mischief.
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