April 22 is National Administrative Professionals' Day (formerly known as National Secretaries' Day). In honor of these most indispensable people (traditionally, overworked and underpaid women), name the creator and the employer of the following individuals who have served that role in mystery/detective fiction.
The winner, randomly selected from correct entries, will receive a $25 Mainely Murders gift card.
Congratulations to Sylvia Moore of Biddeford, who correctly identified Charlotte MacLeod as the author of whimsical "who-dun-its" who was best known for two popular series--one featuring a college botany professor and his colleagues at a fictitious Massachusetts agricultural college and the other about an art critic and his socially connected wife (and her family) in Boston.
Sylvia, whose name was randomly drawn from correct respondents, was among a record number of readers who entered last month's contest.
Reginald Hill was born April 3, 1936, in County Durham, England. His books featuring Superintendent Andrew Dalziel and Sergeant Peter Pascoe were his most famous. He also wrote under the name Patrick Ruell. Hill died in 2012.
John Mortimer, creator of the character Rumpole of the Bailey, was born April 21, 1923, in London. Mortimer, who died in 2009, was himself a barrister.
Sue Grafton, born April 24, 1940, in Louisville, Kentucky, is best known for her Kinsey Milhone "alphabet mysteries" (1982-present). Writing TV screenplays honed her plotting and characterization skills and led to the almost instant success of the Kinsey series. She received the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 2009.
Ngaio Marsh was born April
23, 1899, in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her popular series featuring Roderick
Alleyn,second son of a baronet and a police inspector in London, numbered 32 books, written between 1934 and 1982. The Mystery Writers of America presented her with its Grand Master Award in 1978, four years before her death. Along with Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, and Dorothy Sayers, Marsh is credited with creating the ever-popular "traditional" English detective story.
Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis), born April 27, 1904, in Ballintubber, Ireland, began his mystery-writing life when Lewis, a poet, decided extra income might be useful. His gentleman detective, Nigel Strangeways, survived Lewis' growing fame and starred in 16 mysteries, which are mostly neglected today though obviously well written. Blake died in 1972.
We are first and foremost a mystery bookstore for readers--not collectors. But, we do have a limited inventory of books signed by their authors. Go to
www.mainelymurders.com for a complete list.
All signed books, unless otherwise noted, are hardback, first edition titles in very good to fine condition. Prices do NOT include cost of shipping, which is via U.S.P.S.
Whether it's a favorite author of your own or you just want to delight a friend or relative with a signed edition from his or her favorite, signed books make a great addition to a reader's collection.
Thank you for supporting Mainely Murders Bookstore and other small independent booksellers. At a time when you have other choices, you've shown a commitment to those of us who are part of the local community and who consider customers to be friends and neighbors.
We take great pride in talking with our clientele, whether it's trading viewpoints on favorites or recommending new titles and authors.
What better way to carry your books (or anything else) and at the same time demonstrate your love of mysteries than with our signature black bag.
Made of durable fabric with reinforced 20-inch handles, the bag sports our recognizable logo. ($7)
Our gift cards are available in any amount. The perfect gift for birthdays, anniversaries, or "just because."
We're happy to take mail/phon
e orders and will send to you or directly to the recipient.
Soaking up spring--in Lyon, France.
It's April, and that means re-opening is just around the corner.
Our winter travels were wonderful (and warm), but it's now time to get back to the real business of life: mysteries. We've unpacked books purchased in Paris, Lyon, and Barcelona, and in the days since returning, we've been off on several short book-buying trips. Shipments from publishers and other dealers have started to arrive.
We're excited about our fifth year. We think we can still handle the 10-foot-long walk from the house to the shop and stocking the shelves--and, of course, sitting in the sun reading a few more mysteries. (Our time in Paris was great for catching up on authors we hadn't read in awhile or ones we hadn't read but intended to.)
Naturally we are looking forward to seeing you this year. We never expected the support we have received--or that we would have more than 1,000 subscribers to this newsletter.
Thanks so much for being part of Mainely Murders.
Paula & Ann
Partners in Crime
The Nominees Are
Nominations for the year's top awards have been announced. For those who want to get a jump on reading the most honored books published in 2014, check out some selected categories.
Nominees for the Agatha's, awarded by Malice Domestic for the best in the field of traditional mysteries, include:
Best Contemporary Novel
The Good, The Bad and The Emus by Donna Andrews
A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet
Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron
Best Historical Novel
Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd
An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd
Wouldn't It Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen
Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson
400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga
Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer's Journey by Hank Phillippi Ryan, Editor
Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice by Kate Flora
The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsleya
The Poisoner: The Life and Crimes of Victorian England's Most Notorious Doctor by Stephen Bates
Best Short Story
"The Odds Are Against Us" by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
"Premonition" by Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays
"The Shadow Knows" by Barb Goffman, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays
"Just Desserts for Johnny" by Edith Maxwell
"The Blessing Witch" by Kathy Lynn Emerson, Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave
Nominations for the Edgars, presented by the Mystery Writers of America, include:
This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Wolf by Mo Hayder
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
The Final Silence by Stuart Neville
Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin
Coptown by Karin Slaughter
Best Paperback Original
The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani
Stay With Me by Alison Gaylin
The Barkeep by William Lashner
The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson
The Gone Dead Train by Lisa Turner
World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters
Best Short Story
"The Snow Angel" by Doug Allyn, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
"200 Feet" by John Floyd, Strand Magazine
"What Do You Do?" by Gillian Flynn, Rogues
"Red Eye" by Dennis Lehane vs. Michael Connelly, Faceoff
"Teddy" by Brian Tobin, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
The Maine Crime Wave
Heads up for readers who think they might want to be writers. Or those who want to rub shoulders with some of their favorite Maine mystery writers.
The Maine Crime Wave is Saturday, April 11, at the Glickman Library at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. The daylong conference, sponsored by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, will include panel discussions, theme-specific workshops, manuscript critiques, and book-signings.
Some of our favorite authors--Gerry Boyle, Paul Doiron, Kate Flora, Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson, James Hayman, Barbara Ross, Lea Wait--are scheduled to take part.
Details about the conference, including cost, registration, and schedule, are available at www.mainewriters.org.
In the Footsteps of Aimée Leduc
For 16 years now, Clara Black's Aimée
Leduc has been leading us around every corner of Paris. In her just-released Murder on the Champ de Mars, Black takes on the most upscale of the city's 20 arrondesmonts as
Aimée goes to the aid of a young manouche (Gypsy) boy whose own story may be tied to the murder of her father.
The author has more than a new book to offer true Aimée
Leduc followers: a killer trip to Paris in October.
Deadline for submissions is April 30. Entry forms are available in the first printing copies (while they last) of Murder on the Champ de Mars. Additional details about the contest are available at www.parisisformurder.com
Mainely Murders has no connection whatsoever to the contest. But, considering the number of Cara Black readers who visit our store, we thought the contest would be of interest to many.
What We're Reading
Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Paula)
When The Shadow of the Wind captured worldwide acclaim in 2001--and even more when translated into English in 2004--it wasn't even on my radar.
Adjectives like mystical, gothic, otherworldly, coming-of-age--words used repeatedly to describe the book--weren't about to lure me into this long (more than 500 pages) and complicated (Stephen King said, ". . . even the subplots have subplots. . . ") tale of love, deception, and, yes, murder.
It took our trip to Barcelona, the city in which the book is set, to convince me to open what I now think of as a favorite. Don't misunderstand me. Mystical, gothic, otherworldly, and, yes, very complicated it is. It's a book to be savored, not devoured. A page turner? Yes, but turn the pages very slowly.
It's Barcelona, 1945. Hidden away in the old part of the city is the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books, home to obscure and forgotten books. On one cold winter morning, 10-year-old Daniel is brought to the library by his bookseller father and told he can select one book from the dusty shelves.
His selection is by an unknown writer, Julian Carax. While intrigued that he can find no information about the author nor any other writing, Daniel's life goes on. After all, having joined his father's business, there's no dearth of books.
But before long, Daniel's literary curiosity becomes an obsession to find the real story about Julian Carax. He's not the only one on the chase.
The Shadow of the Wind is a booklover's dream.
Imogene Robertson's The Paris Winter (Ann)
It's one thing to think about starving for your art in Paris. Reality, as Maud Heighton finds out, is brutal. It's the winter of 1909/1910, and Heighton is studying at one of the better Parisian art schools for women. But without the money to do things with fellow students, it's only one of the models and a rich fellow student who notice her increasing gauntness. Then through their connections, she finds a job helping care for a young woman with an opium addiction. Good food, nice room, and cast-off clothing. It seems perfect, until . . .
Brilliant evocation of the highs and lows of Paris in the Belle Époque, brief appearances of people like the French painter Suzanne Valadon and locations like Maxim's in its glory days.
Excellent mystery and great good fun. Paula and I both read and loved it.
Ian Rankin (Ann)
Retirement revitalized Rankin's John Rebus series (though he still drinks quite a bit and remains unhappy with authority). He realizes in the two recent books that he is an increasing anomaly in the "new" police, both a good thing and a bad thing in his mind.
Five years after Rebus was retired in Exit Music, he reappeared in Standing in Another Man's Grave, working cold cases as a civilian. Trolling through some cases, he notices women have disappeared in what appears to be the same area. He sees a connection though no one else does, but naturally follows the cases anyway.
In Saints of the Shadow Bible, back on the force at a reduced rank, Rebus himself is tainted by suspicions that fellow officers may have purposely corrupted evidence in a decades-old murder trial, a case now reopened at the request of the Solicitor General. He occupies himself mostly on an odd road accident and on the fringes of the murder case, with his old adversary Malcolm Fox of internal affairs, whose job will disappear in the coming police reorganization.
Patricia Cornwell (Paula)
I hadn't read any of Cornwell's books in years, when I recently picked up her most recent, Flesh and Blood. Now, I remember why I stopped.
There is no denying that Cornwell deserves the credit for popularizing the forensic scientist in mysteries. In her debut, Post Mortem (1990), she introduced Richmond, Virginia, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, and, in doing so, garnered virtually every first novel award in sight. From the beginning, she proved she could tell a good story, made all the more realistic by impeccable research.
But, for me, along the way, her obsessive use of detail--mind-numbing detail, may I say? --about guns and bullets, helicopters, and armament overshadowed the story itself. If that weren't enough, there were the never-ending conspiracy theories, both large and small.
But, finally, what Flesh and Blood (Scarpetta #22) revealed to me was that I really don't care what happens anymore to Scarpetta or any other of the series regulars (niece Lucy, former sidekick Marino, husband Benton Wesley). I could get around the other problems, but for me not caring is fatal.
A sampling of April releases. For a complete list, visit www.stopyourekillingme.com. All can be ordered directly from Mainely Murders.
Michael Gregorio, Cry Wolf [Sebastiano Cangio #1] [1st U.S. edition]
Elly Griffiths, The Ghost Fields [Ruth Galloway #7]
Joan Hess, Pride v. Prejudice [Claire Malloy #20]
Greg Iles, The Bone Tree [Penn Cage #5]
Iris Johansen, Your Next Breath [Catherine Ling #4]
Philip Kerr, The Lady from Zagreb [Bernie Gunther #10]
Donna Leon, Falling in Love [Guido Brunetti #24]
Attica Locke, Pleasantville [Jay Porter #2]
Liza Marklund, Borderline [Annika Bengtzon #9]
James Rollins & Grant Blackwood, War Hawk [Tucker Wayne #2]
John Sandford, Gathering Prey [Lucas Davenport #25]
Lisa Scottoline, Every Fifteen Minutes [NS]
Aimée & David Thurlo, Grave Consequences [Charlie Henry #2]
Martin Walker, The Children Return [Bruno Courrèges #9]
Stuart Woods, Hot Pursuit [Stone Barrington #33]
Mainely Murders is an independent specialty mystery bookstore devoted exclusively to suspense, crime, and detective fiction. Our stock of used recent and hard-to-find hardcover, trade paper, and mass market volumes ranges from classics and cozies to tough guys and thrillers.