Because we took a little vacation last month, we decided to give you one, too. But, our quiz is back this month.
Known as the "Codfish Sherlock," this detective was featured in a long-running Cape Cod series, published between 1931-1951. Name the detective as well as his creator.
Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
, creator of Nero Wolfe, was born December 1, 1896, in Noblesville, Indiana. In his long-running series, he paired the laid-back detective (the rotund, orchid-loving, beer-swilling Wolfe) with the hard-nosed private eye (Archie Goodwin). Stout
, a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master who died in 1975, remains popular to this day, with his own society of devotees, The Wolfe Pack.
Irish/George Hopley), was born December 4, 1903, in New York City and, with brief forays to Mexico and California, lived there until his death in 1968. His 40-plus books, which include many short story collections, are said to be the basis of more noir movies (including Rear Window, The Bride Wore Black, and The Night Has a Thousand Eyes) than any other writer.
, born December 13, 1915, rose to fame writing under the name Ross Macdonald
. Lew Archer, his most well-known creation, was an ex-cop-turned-private investigator. A Mystery Writers of America Grand Master--as was his wife, Margaret Millar
--he died in 1983.
December 30, 1922. She was first known as a writer of children's books, but gained greater fame as a mystery writer. Her Homer Kelly books--a mainstay on our New England shelves--include the author's pen and ink drawings.
Books, food, and entertainment. They just go together. That's why we're again happy to be selling Portland Dine Around ($29.95), Maine's premier dining/entertainment rewards program.
Purchase one for yourself or give as a gift. One membership is great for the whole family--adults, teens, and children. There's something for everyone.
Members can use the savings at more than 300 affiliate partners from Rockport to Bethel, Portland, Kennebunk, and south. A typical savings is $10 to $25 when two people dine out, with additional savings on travel, entertainment, and sporting events.
See our special offer. Present your PDA membership card whenever you purchase two books and receive the third (of equal or less value) for half off.
Some of you already do this, but just a reminder that there's something that you can do for other mystery readers--and it's absolutely free.
Forward them our newsletter. And, if they enjoy it and would like their very own free subscription, tell them to sign up. We're pleased to have subscribers throughout the United States as well as many internationally.
We know December will bring plenty of cold, wet, icy weather, but our waterproof outside sale cabinet will remain stocked this month.
Looking ahead to winter reading--whether you want to spend it with old favorites or, perhaps, meeting up with new (to you) authors--you'll find plenty to choose from here. All books are still $3 each or $10 for four.
With success, our bookshelf space grows tighter. So, too, does parking for customers.
You're welcome to park in our driveway. Street parking is available, as is space in the lot across Bourne Street.
While our neighbor, the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Wells Water District, has been great about our customers parking in its lot, we know that spaces there are at a premium during the week until 3:30. Feel free to park there on Saturday.
We like to think that Mainely Murders has an international flair--be it the authors and titles we carry or the customers we meet.
That said, we accept other modes of cash payment: the euro and the British pound (at prevailing exchange rates).
We hope it's a convenience for customers from Great Britain and Europe, or, more likely, our American customers who return from vacation with a pocket or wallet filled with "odd" currency.
We regret that our currency exchange is limited. As always, we accept the Canadian dollar from our northern friends.
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)
Remember, if you've taken your Mainely Murders bag on a trip, let us know. Send your photo (jpg) and details to email@example.com
Our gift cards are available in any amount. The perfect gift for the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or "just because."
We're happy to take mail/phone orders and will send to you or directly to the recipient.
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 your 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.
Happy holidays. Whichever you celebrate, we hope it's filled with love, much happiness, great food, and wonderful books! (This year we've even tracked down a few of the hard-to-find Hanukkah mysteries to help a bit on the book front.)
We've already made our "wish lists." Hey, we grew up during the days of Sears Roebuck and
Montgomery Ward catalogs (aka, "wishbooks"). Strange as it may sound, No. 1 on each of our lists was "best ever holiday sales." Just because we seldom agree on favorite books doesn't mean we don't agree on the bottom line. Our December sales have grown each year; this year, we hope, they'll go over the top.
Through deft scheduling, we've arranged for five weeks of shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We've also seen to it that several authors have end-of-the-year releases. Our request for ideal shopping weather--a little snow for ambience, but not too much--has been forwarded to the National Weather Service.
Here in the store, we're bringing in more favorite authors, added holiday baskets and new books, pulled out favorite cookie recipes, and heavied up on gift wrap. (Gift wrapping is free.)
That said, we hope we're ready. And, we hope to see you soon.
Paula and Ann
Partners in Crime
P.S. Mainely Murders gift cards, available in any amount, make the perfect holiday for any mystery reader on your shopping list.
Share Your Love of Books
Through Toys for Tots
This year, we're sharing our passion for mysteries through Toys for Tots. We'd love to have you join us.
We've selected Pizza to Die For, the first children's mystery by Maine veteran mystery writer Lea Wait, to be distributed as part of this year's holiday campaign of the United States Marine Corps Reserves. Each year, youngsters receive, in addition to other gifts, an age-appropriate book.
We're asking customers to purchase a copy of Pizza to Die For, available at our counter for $7.99. Contribute $15 and we'll add two books.
For those shopping for a child, grandchild, or other youngster, we highly recommend this book.
Celebrate a Three Pines Christmas
We can't get enough of Louise Penny's Three
Pines. And neither can our customers, who, by the end of this month, will have made Penny our No. 1 best-selling author for the fourth consecutive year.
Once again this fall, we visited the picturesque villages of Quebec's Eastern Townships. Along the way, her stories came more alive as we visited some of the places that inspired her enchanted, though fictional, village of Three Pines.
We stayed at the Auberge Knowlton and dined at its restaurant/bistro, Le Relais, that inspired Olivier and Gabri's, and visited the monastery (St. Benoit du Lac) that makes much of the cheese served there. We spent time at Brome Lake Books, the bookstore that inspired Myrna's cozy shop. We wandered the roads that have so often beckoned Chief Inspector Armand Gamache to this most magical of places.
We returned home with a little of Three Pines for our customers--whether for gift giving or for themselves. Each item is available in limited supply.
How better to start your morning than with a special edition Three Pines café-au-lait mug. It holds 12 ounces, is microwavable and dishwasher safe, and comes in two styles: Viva Gamache! and, from Ruth's book of poetry, I'm F.I.N.E. $25.
New for us this year is the Louise Penny perpetual calendar. Each page of this charming 5" by 17" calendar pictures the author, her home, or things that inspire her writing. $22.
Show your love of Three Pines with a ¾" × ½" lapel pin in the shape of those iconic green trees with silver border. $15.
Like Paula, other Louise Penny aficionados might like to see their Christmas tree decorated with a reminder of Three Pines. We again have some one-of-a-kind ornaments to celebrate our visit there. $8.
And, don't forget, Glass Houses, No. 13 in this best-selling series, is available, along with all her previous books.
Meow for Murder
We love it when customers send us photos from their travels. But Susan Eldridge of Buxton captured this shot closer to home.
"Not all mystery buffs are people," she wrote. Boston, her family's 4-year-old, 20-pound cat, stretches out with Patricia Cornwell's Depraved Heart.
Susan says Boston prefers to listen to audio books. "While his favorite characters are Lillian Jackson Braun's Koko and Yum-Yum, he occasionally strays to some of my favorite authors like Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, both Jonathan and Faye Kellerman, J.D. Robb, Sue Grafton, and Iris Johansen."
Colder, shorter days have many of us making plans for wintertime reading. With fewer outdoor activities (for some), reading seems to change--be it the amount devoted to our favorite pastime or the titles and authors we select.
Phyllis Schaeffer of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, writes, "Winter is when I read a mystery series from beginning to end. I like the continuity and seeing the development of the recurring characters--and the authors!"
For those looking for a new (to them) author, Phyllis recommends Jane Haddam. "Her Gregor Demarkian is a hoot."
Unlike many of our customers who say they have more time to read in the winter, Sheila Murphy of Townsend, Massachusetts, finds she reads less.
One of our many part-time Mainers, Sheila says she devotes her summers to "beach reading." Once back to her much larger home and other responsibilities, "I just don't have enough time."
What We're Reading
Ho-Ho Homicide (Paula)
Come December 1, rest assured, my nose is always firmly planted in holiday-themed mysteries. It's a tradition that started long before Mainely Murders.
Most of the following can be found in our "Christmas Annex," a few feet from our shop's front in the back entryway into the house.
This year, I'm starting with British Crime Library, a wonderful showcase of reprints from the Golden Age of mysteries: Mystery in White, J. Jefferson Farjeon; Santa Klaus Murder, Mavis Doriel Hay; Crimson Snow
and Silent Nights, Martin Edwards; and Portrait of a Murderer, Anne Meredith.
If you haven't already discovered these classics--of which only a few are holiday-themed--do yourself a favor and pick up one or two.
Along the way, I'll revisit short story collections, like Otto Penzler's Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop and The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries, along with some favorite novels: Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot's Christmas/A Holiday for Murder;
Ngaio Marsh's Tied Up in Tinsel; and John Mortimer's A Rumpole Christmas.
Can't forget the cozy whodunits set in Maine. Sarah Graves has Wreck the Halls; Leslie Meier, Mistletoe Murder, Christmas Cookie Murder, and Christmas Carol Murder; Kaitlin Dunnett, A Wee Christmas Homicide and Ho-Ho Homicide; Lee Hollis, Death of a Christmas Caterer; Charlotte MacLeod, Christmas Stalking and Mistletoe Mysteries; Katherine Hall Page, Body in the Sleigh; Lea Wait, Thread the Halls and Shadows on a Christmas Morning; and more.
Eggnog Murders--a collection of novellas by Lee Hollis, Leslie Meier, and Barb Ross--is a virtual Maine trifecta of Christmas capers.
Mick Herron/Spook Street (Ann)
Mick Herron is a brilliant mystery writer--for those who can handle a bit of violence (often unexpected), dark humor, nonlinear plots, and stunning endings. Not for everyone, though his fellow writers, especially in Britain, have nominated him for major awards.
Spook Street is the latest (fourth) in Herron's Jackson Lamb series. Lamb runs Slough House, a place for members of MI5, British internal intelligence, who haven't the wit to retire for various shortcomings--such as assaulting a superior, getting in the way of an ambitious colleague, or leaving secret documents on a train--but might be dangerous if fired.
In theory they are supposed to input data and do other mind-numbing tasks; in reality they mostly do nothing. Occasionally, however, they notice things the main agency hasn't and try to gain redemption so they can get back to where the real action is.
In Spook Street, the immediate problem is that an old and internally famous retired agent apparently killed his grandson, a Slough House assignee, who adored him. The fact that the old agent knows many secrets and is losing his grip on reality is a complicating factor.
Since our heroes don't trust those who sent them to their hell, they head off on their own search for truth. The regular agents mostly don't notice what's happening immediately as they are absorbed, quite rightly, in a major bombing that killed 40 people.
Eventually, death rather than redemption is Slough House's fate. These are not lucky people.
Robert Crais, The Wanted [Elvis Cole & Joe Pike #17]
Gary Disher, Signal Loss [Hal Challis #7]
Val McDermid, Insidious Intent [Tony Hill & Carol
Paul Doherty, The Mansions of Murder [Brother Athelstan #18]
Christopher Fowler, Wild Chamber [Peculiar Crimes Unit #14]
W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV, Death at Nuremberg [Clandestine Operations #4]
Tami Hoag, The Boy [Nick Fourcade & Annie Broussard #2]
Lene Kaaberbol, Lady in the Shadows [Madeleine Karno #2]
Peter Lovesey, Beau Death [Peter Diamond #17]
*Katherine Hall Page, The Body in the Casket [Faith Fairchild #24]
James Rollins, The Demon Signal [Sigma Force #13]
Helene Tursten, Protected by the Shadows [Irene Huss #10]
Anne Perry, A Christmas Return [Christmas Mystery #15]
*Barbara Ross, Stowed Away [Clam Clambake Mysteries #6]
* Maine author
Icelander Arnaldur Indridason has long been a favorite of ours--and many of our customers. His 11-book series featuring Erlendur Sveinsson, a Reykjavik detective inspector, and his colleagues captured our attention from his very first title, Jar City (aka, Tainted Blood).
Translated into English since 2004's debut novel, the author has now introduced a new series with the publication of The Shadow District, featuring a former Reykjavik detective.
Some of you might recall that we were so entranced with the Icelandic setting early on that we arranged for a multi-day Reykjavik stopover one winter on our way to Paris.
Marilyn Brooks, our reader/reviewer (www, marilynsmysteryreads.com) from Needham, Massachusetts, is another Indridason fan. She beat us to the punch in reading The Shadow District.
Iceland during World War II was changing, and the changes weren't to everyone's liking. Before the war the country was a small farming community, remote from the rest of the world, ruled by Denmark. But in 1944 Iceland became an independent republic while at the same time undergoing major social changes due to the influx of American and British troops who were stationed there before being sent to fight in Europe.
As in other countries where foreign armies were present, this created problems; in Iceland that became known as the Situation. British and American soldiers were dating Icelandic women who were impressed by the foreigners' sophistication, politeness, and wealth, a welcome change from the rural and unworldly Icelandic men, at least as they were perceived by the young women.
In wartime Reykjavik, Ingiborg is facing this problem. Deciding to disregard her father's stern prohibition about dating an American, she and her lover Frank have sneaked off to the abandoned National Theater, a favorite place for illicit romance. Scarcely have they arrived when Ingiborg trips over some cardboard, and when she and Frank look down they see the body of a young woman. Ingiborg wants to call the police, but Frank prevails and they flee the scene.
Fast forward to present day Reykjavik, where the body of an elderly man is found in his apartment after his neighbor calls police to say she hasn't seen him in several days. He's lying peacefully on his bed, fully clothed, but obviously quite dead. At first, given his advanced age, the police conclude that he died in his sleep, but the autopsy required by law shows that Stéfan Thórdarson was suffocated.
Konrád, a retired Reykjavik detective, has an interest in the case. He has vague childhood memories about the murder in the Theater; it happened in his neighborhood, the Shadow District. He seems to recall that his father had some connection to it, but he can't remember exactly what it was. He gets permission to search the apartment of the dead man, which is almost completely free of any personal items except for a photo of a handsome young man and three newspaper clippings about the death at the Theater.
The Shadow District goes back and forth in time between 1944 and now. No one has ever been arrested in the young woman's murder, even though it bore a resemblance to the disappearance and presumed death of another woman in northern Iceland a few years earlier. The only seeming connection between the two deaths was the mention of Huldufólk in both cases.
Huldufólk are elves or hidden people in Icelandic folklore, sometimes amusing and sometimes evil. Shortly before the disappearance of the northern woman and the death of the woman in Reykjavik, each had spoken about being attacked by these elves. The belief in these mythic beings runs deep in the country, even today. And although many people say they don't really believe in the hidden people, no one wants to totally dismiss them.
Arnaldur Indridason is one of Scandinavia's most popular writers, winner of the Glass Key, the award for the best Nordic mystery novel, in 2002 and 2003. The Shadow District is his first in a new series, and it's a terrific beginning. As always the author's characters and plot are believable and engrossing, and the glimpses into Icelandic history are an added plus.