For obvious (to us) reasons, we're considering banning all political talk from our shop this year. However, first, we'll look back to a kinder, gentler time. Name the real-life Presidential wife who is an amateur sleuth in a popular 20-book series.
(subject line: quiz). Winner will be randomly drawn from correct entries.
Each month we note birthdays of some of the masters of the mystery genre, with hopes that readers might read (or re-read) one of their many gems.
April 3, 1936, in County Durham, England. His best-known books featured Superintendent Andrew Dalziel and Sergeant Peter Pascoe. He also wrote under the name Patrick Ruell
. He died in 2012.
Tom Clancy was born on April 12, 1947, in Baltimore and died there, a loyal son of the city, in 2013. At age 37, after a number of years in the insurance business, his book The Hunt for Red October was published and transformed military thrillers with its detailed and accurate technical descriptions. It also led Clancy to write 18 books that sold 100 million-plus copies and helped him become part owner of the Baltimore Orioles, among other achievements.
, creator of
the character Rumpole of the Bailey, was born April 21, 1923, in London. Mortimer
, who died in 2009, was himself a barrister.
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
Allingham, and Dorothy Sayers, Marsh is credited
with creating the ever-popular "traditional" English detective story.
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.
, aka, Jack Harvey
, perhaps the most popular of the Scottish noir writers, was born in the Kingdom of Fife on April 28, 1960, but now lives in Edinburgh. After a number of jobs and many years writing, he found success with Knots and Crosses
, the first novel about the world-weary Edinburgh detective John Rebus. (They now number 21.) He has won both a Silver Dagger and an Edgar.
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.
To Shop Local
* Spend $100 locally and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain; only $43 stays in your community.
* Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
* More of your taxes are reinvested in your community.
* Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
* Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.
* Local retailers are your friends and neighbors--support them and they'll support you.
* Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
* More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a more unique community.
Just when you might have thought our travels were over--we returned from our winter in Paris a week ago--we're off again. Now, we're on the road visiting booksellers and attending book sales, in anticipation of re-opening on May 3.
As you read this, we might be digging through piles of books in Connecticut or Rhode Island--or hunting for titles out in Oregon--in search of customer favorites.
Indeed, the "hunt" is one of the most enjoyable parts of book selling--particularly for Ann, who scales ladders, burrows beneath tables, and wends her way into dark aisles. (Paula is the one on firm ground directing, "third row from the top; no, the second . . .")
With that, the search is on to fill our shelves for our seventh year. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Paula and Ann
Partners in Crime
Good-bye to Our #1 Supporter
Every endeavor needs a #1 fan. Ours was Nancy Grayson, a great friend and longtime Portland bookseller.
For many years, Nancy owned Cunningham Books, one of the last of the used bookstores for which Portland was known. We started out as customers, became friends, and then she was there every step of the way when we began planning Mainely Murders. Some of our early stock--and much of our bookstore knowledge--came from her. On our opening day in 2011, she was among our first customers.
She died March 15. She is greatly missed.
The Maine Crime Wave
Mystery writers and those who want to join their ranks will gather at the University of Southern Maine's Glickman Library in Portland on Saturday, April 22, for the 2017 Maine Crime Wave, sponsored by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.
The event will have a special kick-off on Friday to
celebrate bestselling writer Tess Gerritsen, the recipient of the MWPA's inaugural Crime Master Award for Distinguished Achievement.
Saturday's program, geared to writers, will include panel discussions, theme-specific craft sessions, manuscript workshops, book signings, and more. Maine crime writers Kate Flora, Bruce Robert Coffin, Gayle Lynds, and Chris Holm will be among those on the program.
Readers Love These American Favorites
Mysteries continue to go global. At Mainely Murders, where we pride ourselves on our international offerings, the numbers grow each year.
Still, no one turns out crime fiction at the rate of U.S. writers. (And no one sells worldwide like they do.) In the world of publishing, lists of bestsellers (hardback, trade paper, or mass market) are overwhelmingly American. Certain writers will soar to the top of the charts with each new release.
Our own 2016 domestic sales were very healthy. But, unlike the international side, where we see new authors break out each year, the "big names" remain entrenched.
Last year's North American (Maine writers excluded) bestselling authors, not in any particular order, were:
Louise Penny continued to be our most popular author. Others who were especially popular in the trade paper/hardback category were William Kent Krueger, Laurie King, Charles Todd, James Patterson, Susan Elia MacNeil, Alan Furst, and Thomas Perry. Most of these authors were new to the list.
More predictable were the authors in the mass market category: David Baldacci, C.J. Box (new), Sandra Brown (new), Lee Child, Harlan Coben, John Grisham (returning), Dennis Lehane, Peter Robinson, and David Rosenfelt (new).
Among the classic writers: After leader Robert B. Parker, come the perennially popular Rex Stout, Earl Derr Biggers (new), Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Donald Westlake/Richard Stark, and Philip Craig.
Finally, the leaders in our ever-popular cozy category, who tend to focus on food or knitting: Anne Canadeo, Sally Goldenbaum, Maggie Sefton, Cleo Coyle, Leslie Meier, and Rhys Bowen.
Traveling Book Bag
We're not the only ones traveling during the winter months. Indeed, much of our conversation with customers centers on our shared love of travels.
That means our Mainely Murders book bag truly gets around.
Ross and Priscilla Wyman of Kennebunk, among our many traveling book friends, sent evidence of their winter visit to South America. First, we heard from them while in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Next thing we knew they were in the Falkland Islands.
"Could Antarctica be next?" we wondered. A few days later, a third photo arrived. Sure enough, our book bag (and Ross and Priscilla) made it to the most southern spot on the planet: this glacier on a Chilean fjord. Two years ago, they visited the most northern outpost in the Arctic Circle. Yes, our book bag does like to travel
We love to hear about your travels. And, if you've remembered to pack your Mainely Murders book bag, e-mail us a photo (firstname.lastname@example.org and subject line traveling book bag) and we'll share it with readers.
What We've Been Reading
Comin' Down the Line (Ann)
I was destined to love trains--as might be expected of someone whose earliest memories include standing on a Philadelphia station platform, holding her father's hand, watching the Florida Special blow by heading south.
My love of mysteries came later, when I learned to read. Together, trains and mysteries have proven a powerful combination--for me as well as for others.
Every mystery fan is familiar with Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, one of many mysteries she set on trains. Others, with darker tastes, might have read Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on the Train, Ethel Lina White's The Lady Vanishes (The Wheel Turns), or Cornell Woolrich's I Married a Dead Man. More likely, people have seen the movies.
Except for Kerry Greenwood's Murder on the Ballarat Train, which was also an episode in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, more recent books don't suffer from this fate. No movies or TV series to spoil any surprises.
My favorite series is Edward Marston's The Railway Detective, set in the early days of British train travel (the first book is set in 1851)--and police work, come to that. It's a nice easy-going evocation of a time, much like those of Jacqueline Winspear or Charles Todd.
Andrew Martin's very fine nine-book Jim Stringer series skips forward to 1905 and starts on the trains that take bodies to a graveyard just outside London (begun in 1851), hence the Necropolis Railway. Railroads, of course, are vital to the nation by this time and policing more accepted. Stringer himself is working class and moves into the middle class as time passes, which would have been unlikely earlier. A little less cozy than Marston's, several books were nominated for historical Daggers.
Because train travel was so ubiquitous until recently, it's possible to experience train travel through individual books by a number of famous writers.
Mary Roberts Rinehart's second book (1909), for example, was The Man in Lower Ten. Dorothy Hughes' Dread Journey (1945) features a movie star who fears she may be murdered on a transcontinental journey. Miles Burton's recently reissued Death in the Tunnel (1938) and J. Jefferson Farjeon's newly reprinted Mystery in White (1937) are similar British tales.
While books by Freeman Wills Crofts, the most famous of the British train writers, are often pricy and difficult to find, they are extremely true to life. Crofts was a railway engineer until he quit to write mysteries, most starring Inspector French of Scotland Yard. French's specialty was breaking alibis, often because the train/plane/ship had a schedule that seemed to provide one. Crofts wrote a number of books, most notably Death on the Way/Double Death (1932) and Dead of a Train (1946), that focused completely on trains.
Dated and nostalgic, often depicting a totally alien world? Yes, but, oh, so enjoyable.
What We've Been Reading (Paula)
Most of us have our "guilty pleasures"--books that, while we know take time away from "better" reading, we can't resist because of the enormous pleasure they bring us.
Australian Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher books, set in 1920s Melbourne, top my list. (I don't limit myself to one guilty pleasure.) Phryne is smart, clever, sexy, and dangerous. The pearl-handled derringer she carries everywhere completes the picture. How could I not love her?
For those few who might not know, the books have made it to tv (and Netflix), courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Company, and I adore the series starring Essie Davis, as the gutsy, glamorous, and very wealthy Phryne (pronounced Fry-knee).
Clearly, I'm not the only fan. Twenty books deep--from Cocaine Blues to Murder and Mendelssohn--the series has a solid following. Used copies are difficult to find, and they sell immediately once on the shelves. If you haven't yet discovered her, give Phryne a try.
What You've Been Reading
Thanks to those who wrote and told us what they were reading over the winter. While away, we enjoyed hearing from you with stories of the favorites you were re-reading, as well as the new authors and titles you'd discovered.
Madeline Roberts of Windham took the time to go through her list of "missing" Michael Connelly and Lee Child titles. She then made the acquaintance of Jeffrey Deaver. "He was new to me and became the new man in my life for a while. Nice to be old and fickle!"
Maddy and daughter Linda Spears, also of Windham, have been once-a-month visitors to Mainely Murders since we first opened. Indeed, they usually begin their "stocking up for winter reading" in early fall.
Get New Releases Here
We know Mainely Murders customers think of us as their No. 1 source for used mysteries. But, we sell new releases, too, regularly stocking the latest book by our biggest selling authors.
Remember, though, we can provide you with any new book, often on the day of release. Call or e-mail us to pre-order.
As a small, independent bookseller, we're most appreciative of those people who choose to purchase from us.
Susan Wittig Albert, The Last Chance Olive Ranch [China Bayles #25]
Barbara Allan, Antiques Frame [Trash 'n Treasure #11]
David Baldacci, The Fix [Amos Decker #3]
Steve Berry, The Lost Order [Cotton Malone #12]
Mary Higgins Clark, All By Myself Alone [NS]
Ann Cleeves, Cold Earth [Shetland #7]
Jeffrey Deaver, The Burial Hour [Lincoln Rhyme #13]
C.S. Harris, Where the Dead Lie [Sebastian St. Cyr #12]
Anne Hillerman, Song of the Lion [Bernadette Manuelito #3]
Iris Johansen, No Easy Target [NS]
Philip Kerr, Prussian Blue [Bernie Gunther #12]
M.L. Longworth, The Curse of La Fontaine [Antoine Verlaque and Marine Bonnet #6]
G.M. Malliet, Devil's Breath [Max Tudor #6]
G.A. McKevett, Every Body on Deck [Savannah Reid #22]
Sara Paretsky, Fallout [V.I. Warshawski #18]
John Sanford, Golden Prey [Lucas Davenport #27]
Paige Shelton, Of Books and Bagpipes [Scottish Bookshop #2]
Stuart Woods, Fast and Loose [Stone Barrington #41]