Summer in Maine brings out the antique aficionados--up early to hit the flea markets, followed by an afternoon visiting antique shops, then an evening checking out auctions. But, mystery readers know those visits can be dangerous. Witness Britain's Jonathan Gash's longtime series--and later television series--featuring Lovejoy, the East Anglican antiques expert and forger.
Closer to home, name the author of the 11-book series that follows an antiques dealer in a small coastal New
Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
(subject line: quiz). The winner will be randomly selected from correct entries.
Congratulations to Deanna (Dee) Stillings of Carlisle, Massachusetts, who correctly identified Kate Flora as the New England (part-time Maine) crime writer (fiction and non-fiction) whose mother (A. Carman Clark) authored one of our best-selling summertime reads, The Maine Mulch Murder.
Dee wrote: "I love The Maine Mulch Murder. And, also From the Orange Mailbox, a collection of Clark's non-fiction columns from the Camden Herald."
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.
James M. Cain, born July 1, 1892, is often compared to Hammett and Chandler. His most famous books: The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and Mildred Pierce were turned into movies that may be more well known than the books. Cain, who died in 1977, was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1970.
Dorothy L. Sayers, born July 13, 1893, in Oxford, England, was the creator of Lord Peter Wimsey (and later, Harriet Vane). Considered one of the three greatest British classic writers--along with Agatha Christie and Josephine Tey--Sayers herself valued more her translations and Christian essays. She died in 1957.
Grand Master Erle Stanley Gardner
, the creator of Perry Mason, was born July 17, 1889, in Malden, Massachusetts. Some of his 82 Mason titles (The Case of the ...)
were among the century's best-selling books. He died in 1970.
Raymond Chandler, born July 23, 1888, in Chicago, Illinois, and one of the founders of the hard-boiled detective school, was also a noted screenwriter and was nominated for an Oscar for both Double Indemnity and
The Blue Dahlia. He died in 1959.
John D. MacDonald
was born July 24, 1916, in Sharon, Pennsylvania, and is best remembered for his detective/thief Travis McGee. A Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, he died in 1986.
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 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.
It's the heart of the summer in Maine. Tourism officials tell us that more people flock to our state in the next two months than any other period of the year.
That means we're filling our shelves with more titles from here and abroad. We do our very best to anticipate reader interest, but don't hesitate to give us a heads-up for special orders or unusual requests.
Hope to see you soon.
Paula and Ann
Partners in Crime
Ann's not the only one who finds railroads--the cars, the stations, the tracks--an ideal crime scene.
Indeed, after sharing her interest in our April newsletter, her article was reprinted in the nation's leading mystery publication, Mystery Scene Magazine (www.mysteryscenemag.com), on newsstands now.
In the Neighborhood
Saturday visitors to Mainely Murders are in for a tasty treat this summer just a block away--the Kennebunk Farmers' Market.
There's something for everyone there. We should know; we've sampled almost everything. Fresh produce. Plants ready for the garden or bouquets ready for the house. Meat, poultry, and free-range eggs. Homemade baked goods. Jellies, jams, honey. Pasta and sauces. You can even get your knives sharpened (every other week).
Since we're big fans of local markets, we even like to read about them. Our favorite series is Paige Shelton's Farmers' Market mysteries: Farm Fresh Murder, Fruit of All Evil, Crops and Robbers, A Killer Maize, Merry Market Murder, and Bushel Full of Murder.
Don't worry. Kennebunk's market bears no resemblance to Shelton's fictional one.
They Followed Clues to Mainely Murders
We've joined the world of Letterboxing--a world that, until recently, was unknown to us.
It combines artistic ability with "treasure-hunts" in parks, forests, and cities around the world. Participants seek out hidden letterboxes by cracking codes and following clues. The prize: an image from a miniature piece of art known as a rubber stamp--usually a unique, hand-carved creation.
Letterboxers stamp their discoveries in a personal journal, then use their own signature stamp to stamp into the Letterbox's logbook.
Clues in hand, some 50 Letterboxers (teams and individuals) flooded the Kennebunk area June 17 to track down hidden boxes--one of which is now located here.
Colonel Mustard in the Library
With the Knife
. . . or perhaps the drawing room with a revolver? Or, maybe it wasn't the colonel?
Mystery lovers enjoy taking on the role of detective. And, who can really pass up a game of old-fashion Clue--or, as it's known to Britain, Cluedo?
Friends/customers Charlie and Cheryl Wallace of Portland recently sat down with us for a game of Whodunit, an aptly named variation of the crime-solving board game.
Summer of Great Reads
It could be just coincidence, but three of our best-selling authors have new releases out this summer.
Last month, Paul Doiron gave us Knife Creek, his eighth Maine game warden title. This time, Mike Bowditch, never reluctant to buck the system, delves into a long-buried investigation to uncover a dangerous secret that puts his own life in the cross hairs.
Also new on our shelves is Martin Walker's The Templar's Last Secret. Our favorite French policeman, Bruno Coureges, chief of police in the village of St. Denis in southwestern France, returns with his own secrets to uncover, connecting the tangled threads of the past and present.
Louise Penny returns August 29 with Glass Houses, the thirteenth title in her series featuring Armand Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, and the enchanting village of Three Pines. (Pre-orders greatly appreciated.)
Other writers ready with summer releases include Portland police detective turned crime writer Bruce Robert Coffin, author of last year's debut, Among the Shadows. His follow-up, Beneath the Depths, is set for release in early August.
Murders on the Maine Coast
Lea Wait and Barb Ross, writers of two of our favorite series set along the beautiful Maine coast, have a way of making their cozy villages downright deadly.
If you're not already hooked on Lea's Mainely Needlepoint mysteries and Barb's Maine Clambake mysteries, you're in for a summertime treat, Their fictional coastal villages--Barb's Busman's Harbor and Lea's Haven Harbor--may soon rival Cabot Cove for killings per capita.
Busman's Harbor is home to Julia Snowden and the Snowden Family Clambake Company. Clammed Up, the series' 2013 debut, brought Julia home to help save the family business. Add Boiled Over, Musseled Out, Fogged Inn, Iced Under--and another, Stowed Away, on the way in December--and you'll find Busman's Harbor has become a killer of a town.
Haven Harbor proves just as deadly--when Angie Curtis, who, like Julia Snowden, heads back to her hometown. This spring's Tightening the Threads
is the fifth in the series--after Twisted Threads, Threads of Evidence, Thread and Gone,
Dangling by a Thread. Release of Thread the Halls, book #6, is October 30.
A great gift for a Maine visitor--or as a remembrance of your own summer visit--all titles are available, individually or as a collection.
No Holds Barred Fighting Evil
Continuing my action/adventure bedtime reading, I blew through five or six Brad Thor Scot Harvath books (of the 16 now available with the June publication of Use of Force). Harvath, ex-Navy Seal Team 6 member (the toughest of the tough) turned covert counterterrorism agent, is pretty much given limitless power to break any rules to capture or kill (mostly) dangerous enemies of the United States both inside and outside the country.
Thor is very creative on the threats (mention of which would ruin some stories) and on the enemies who fund them. The enemies include not only the usual suspects--Iran, Russia, and militant Islam but also China, various American traitors, and age-old secret cabals. And unlike most stories of this type, some fairly serious attacks take place before Harvath is set loose.
This series definitely fits in the kick-ass adventure category--and the reader never (unfortunately) feels that any of the horrible threats are impossible. Still, nighttime readers may notice themselves looking at a clock that says one o'clock before they know it.
It's summer in Maine, and that means, to many, Vacation! I've decided to take one, via books, this summer: to Sicily with author Andrea Camilleri and his favorite inspector, Salvo Montalbano.
Over the years, I've eagerly awaited each new title. However, recently--after a Maine May that served up little sunshine, but endless gloomy, wet days--I longed for sunshine. My solution has been to steep myself in the warmth (often, heat) of Sicily and it's most revered detective, with his humor, compassion, cynicism, anger, and uncanny ability to get to the truth. I like him, too, for his great love of food--always a good quality in a series that, later this summer, will surpass 20 titles.
Starting with his first, The Shape of Water, Camilleri's wickedly funny police procedurals remind me why it is that certain writers almost beg to be re-read. Each title I pull from the shelf--yes, I'm doing so in chronological order--is an opportunity to revisit a delightful cast of characters and a unique (but not always delightful) place.
With luck, by August, when the twenty-first in the series (A Nest of Vipers) is due for release--or certainly by January with the translation of the next, The Pyramid of Mud--I'll be again up-to-date with Inspector Montalbano.
Now in his early 90s, Camilleri is unlikely to have many more stories left, but, in the meantime, I'll enjoy every one.
Native American Mysteries [Paula]
Long before I dreamed of becoming a bookseller--journalist or teacher--I had a vocation in mind: cowgirl. In truth, I really wanted to be an Indian, but my best friend in the neighborhood, grandson of the then-chief of Western Oregon's Silitz Indians, always called "dibs" on that when playing "Cowboys and Indians."
If I couldn't be Sacajawea, I could be Annie Oakley. My grandfather, who had once worked as a ranch hand, stoked my imagination.
One of the great things about bookselling is that I can go to the shelves at any time and reach for a book that will rekindle those early yearnings. That probably explains my enjoyment of mysteries that remind me of the richness of Native American culture--books by Tony Hillerman (the greatest) and now his daughter, Anne; Aimee and David Thurlo; Margaret Coel; and Thomas Perry's Jane Whitefield series.
Whether the Navajos (the Hillerman's and the Thurlo's), Arapaho (Coel), or Seneca (Perry), these cultures add a different dimension to the mystery genre I love. (Check out blogger/customer Marilyn Brooks' review of Anne Hillerman's latest below.)
I needn't stop with a handful of authors. Already this summer, others have been recommended--James Doss (Ute), J.M. Hayes (Cheyenne), and Jean Hager (Cherokee), each of which I look forward to reading.
Traveling Book Bag
When Travis and Patty Hiltz of Keene, New Hampshire, recently traveled out west, they packed their Mainely Murders book bag. "We remembered to take pictures this time,' says Patty, here standing near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.
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.
Tasha Alexander, A Terrible Beauty [Lady Emily Ashton #11]
Ace Atkins, The Fallen [Quinn Colson #7]
Juliet Blackwell, A Ghostly Light [Haunted Home Renovation #7]
C.J. Box, Paradise Valley [Cassie Dewell #3]
Christopher Brookmyre, The Last Hack [Jack Parlabane #8]
Linda Castillo, Down a Dark Road [Kate Burkholder #9]
John Connolly, A Game of Ghosts [Charlie Parker #15]
Lindsey Davis, The Third Nero [Flavia Albia #5]
Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen, Look Behind You [NS]
Nicci French, Dark Saturday [Freida Klein #7]
Keith McCafferty, Cold Hearted River [Sean Stranahan #6]
Alexander McCall Smith, A Distant View of Everything [Isabel Dalhousie #11]
Elizabeth Peters, The Painted Queen [Amelia Peabody #20] Note: Completed by Joan Hess.
Spencer Quinn, The Right Side [NS]
Kathy Reichs, Two Nights [NS]
David Rosenfelt, Collared [Andy Carpenter #16]
Simon Toyne, The Boy Who Saw [Solomon Creed #2]
Peter Tremayne. Penance of the Damned [Sister Fidelma #27]
Ruth Ware, The Lying Game [NS]
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 best-selling authors.
Remember, though, we can provide you with any new book, often on the day of release (truthfully the next day as new books come out on Tuesdays). 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.
Our customer recommendations this month range from the newly released to the classics.
Anne Hillerman is back with the third title in her continuation of her father's (Tony Hillerman) iconic Navajo series, and blogger Marilyn Brooks (www.marilynsmysteryreads.com) of Needham, Massachusetts, weighed in immediately.
Song of the Lion brings the reader to Navajo country again, to beautiful New Mexico. The novel opens with what should be a peaceful scene, a high school basketball game. Police officer Bernadette Manuelito, herself a former player, has come to the gym to cheer the local teams.
Noise from the parking lot causes the building to shake, and Bernadette runs outside to see what's happening. A car is in ruins, debris spread on the concrete. A few minutes later another officer finds a badly burned young man near the car. Federal officers arrive to help direct the investigation, and the victim is taken by ambulance to the hospital.
The owner of the bombed car is Aza Palmer, a former high school basketball star and now a successful lawyer in Phoenix. He's in town because he will be the mediator at a major conference to be held in nearby Tuba City, Arizona.
There's a proposal that will be discussed at the conference about the possibility of building a luxury resort on land near the Grand Canyon that is owned by the Navajo tribe. There are many conflicting points of view about the wisdom of going ahead with this, and a plethora of groups will be meeting to give their input, pro and con, about it.
Given the possibility that the bombing of Aza's car may have been an attempt to kill him or at least dissuade him from going to the meeting, Jim Chee, Bernadette's husband and a fellow officer in the Shiprock Police Department, is assigned to be Aza's bodyguard during the conference. Aza doesn't want a bodyguard, and Jim doesn't want to be the one who guards him, but the two men are given no choice.
The Shiprock police captain explains that there could be real danger for Palmer since he's also been receiving threatening emails and that a similar conference in California had erupted in violence caused by one of the groups attending this meeting. So, very reluctantly, Palmer and Chee acquiesce and drive to Tuba City the following day to get ready for the conference.
Song of the Lion brings Bernadette, Jim, and their mentor Joe Leaphorn together to investigate. Was the injured young man the one who set the explosive, or was he simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? Was the car chosen randomly, or was the perpetrator trying to kill or injure Aza Palmer?
In spite of the blast and the threats against him, Palmer simply refuses to believe he's in danger. He would seem to be the perfect man to mediate the conference featuring such a disparate group of attendees and speakers-people from the Navajo Nation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, and Save Wild America, to name a few-but apparently not everyone thinks so.
You will be transported to Shiprock and its environs as soon as you open this novel. Everything is described in loving detail, and Anne Hillerman's love for this section of the country shines through. Whether her characters are talking about the differences between "Indian food" and "American food," telling Navajo or Hopi stories, or describing the grandeur of the various landscapes, you'll feel a part of the scene. And you'll probably never meet three more delightful protagonists than Bernadette Manuelito, Jim Chee, and Joe Leaphorn.
Helen Kitzman of Madison, Connecticut (until the snow flies), continues her perusal of our British classics' section.
Some people clearly work harder than others. Mystery Writer of America Grandmaster (1987) and British Diamond Dagger winner (1994) Michael Gilbert wrote his mysteries (both novels and his numerous short stories) while commuting (first class) each day to his law office. Most of his 30 novels are standalones with the policemen as relatively minor characters.
One of his early tales, Smallbone Deceased (1950), is set in a law firm whose tiny offices mirror the claustrophobic lives of the attorneys and secretaries who work there. Inspector Hazelrigg is a Dickensian addition to the more clever (sometimes too clever) attorneys who solve the crime after finding the victim crushed into a safety deposit box. (Sounds impossible, doesn't it?)
Overdrive (1967), a Gold Dagger finalist, tells the tale of Oliver Nugent who uses military thinking and his battalion officers to fight his way onto, and ever higher up, the ladder of power to ultimate mastery of the cosmetics business. (An example of Gilbert's frequent use of irony). As his path journeys upward, I awaited his murder as his skill at the game of bridge reflects his ruthlessness in business.
A Gold Dagger and an Edgar finalist, The Black Seraphim (1984) concerns Dr. James Scotland, a physician suffering mental fatigue, who moves to nearby Melchester for a rest, and finds himself in the midst of intrigue and murder at the Cathedral. With tone and plot reminiscent of Anthony Trollope, this mystery explores the sacred and profane to tell a dark tale.
The Killing of Katie Steelstock (1980) is my favorite of his later novels. A classic, if surprisingly noirish, mystery, it captures a small village with clever, but vulnerable, children, arrogant elders, a teacher whose delight in children is seen as a threat, a weak rector, a kindly constable, a slow-witted military retiree, and venal business leaders.
Then the village is set against the big city where a young village girl is now a rising London starlet, surrounded by adoring fans, ensnared by a pornographic photographer, threatened by ever-present hoodlums, and unprotected by an all-knowing Scotland Yard. The plot moves, the dialogue snaps, the characters perform, and the story gallops to a powerful crash conclusion. I loved every minute I spent reading it.