Our easiest "quiz" ever. Name your five favorite contemporary mystery writers.
Congratulations to Elsie Robertson of Keene, New Hampshire, who identified Victoria Thompson as the writer who, after beginning her career with historical romances, has found great success authoring a now (as of last month) 21-book series featuring a midwife and policeman in early 20th-century New York City.
Each month we note birthdays of some of the greats of mystery writing in hopes that you might choose to read (or re-read) one of their works.
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.
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.
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 free.
Forward them our newsletter. If they enjoy it and would like their very own free subscription, tell them to sign up by emailing us at email@example.com. We're pleased to have subscribers throughout the United States as well as many internationally.
Our gift cards are available in any amount. They're always the perfect gift for the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or "just because."
We're happy to take mail/phone orders and will send the card either to you or directly to the recipient.
Outdoor Sale Cabinet
We can't begin to fit our entire inventory on the shelves inside our shop. Solution: our outdoor sale cabinet filled with dozens of great reads--
including former bestsellers.
At only $3 each or $10 for four, the price can't be beat. Books are added daily. Whether you're looking for some new (to you) authors, eyeing some old favorites, or even stocking up your own bookshelves for summer guests, you'll have plenty from which to choose.
With success, our bookshelf space grows ever 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. Feel free to park there after 3:30 p.m. or on Saturday.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Trip to Three Pines
Not every fan of author Louise Penny can travel to the Quebec settings of her best-selling series. But, that doesn't mean we can't all enjoy magical Three Pines.
See our special offerings inspired by Armand Gamache and his friends (and now-neighbors) of Three Pines.
How better to start the morning than with a 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.)
Louise Penny has provided a lovely perpetual calendar. Each page of this charming 5" by 17" calendar pictures the author, her home, or things that inspire her writing. ($22.)
Lastly, show your affection for Three Pines with a ¾" × ½" lapel pin in the shape of those iconic green trees with silver border. ($15.)
For those who can't resist the mysterious--why else would they be at Mainely Murders?--our popular grab bags are back.
Check out our selection of the colorful bags. Each ($5) contains three books from our stock, each tied to a particular theme. Among our most popular: Passport to Murder (for the armchair traveler), Culinary Crimes (recipes can be deadly), Death By Chocolate (say it ain't so!), and Murder is Academic (our particular favorite).
Thank you for supporting
Mainely Murders 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.
Everyone, it seems, is coming to Maine. It's only July, but already we've welcomed customers from throughout the country as well as abroad.
One afternoon, we welcomed the entire West Coast--with customers from California, Oregon, and Washington. Another day, we "collected" nearly the entire eastern division of the American League. (Baseball fans, as we are, will understand that reference. For others, it means we had visitors from Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Toronto; only Tampa Bay was missing.)
This month starts off with a bang with Tuesday's release of Stay Hidden, the ninth in Paul Doiron's enormously popular series about Maine state game warden Mike Bowditch. We'll have copies Wednesday morning.
Hope to see you soon.
Paula and Ann
Partners in Crime
P.S. Thanks to the many customers who brought us word--and copies to prove it--that we were featured in the July issue of DownEast magazine. And, thanks to the folks at DownEast for considering us newsworthy.
What We're Reading
Martin Walker, A Taste for Vengeance
There's a reason I love Martin Walker. His series set in the Périgord region of southwestern France--starting with Bruno, Chief of Police, aka Death in the Dordogne--exceeds every one of my expectations for a "must read."
Outstanding character development (Benoît "Bruno"
Courrèges, chief of police in tiny St. Denis, is someone you'd like to know); strong sense of place (a visit there is on my bucket list); and a basset hound, who, like all of his breed, charms everyone he meets.
Walker's newest, A Taste for Vengeance, won't disappoint his fans. Those who admire Bruno's passion for regional cuisine as much as his crime-solving skills, can rest assured that this latest title, like all others, is filled with much talk of cooking. Crime-solving, too.
In addition, Walker infuses all his books with both the past and present, perhaps because in France they are so completely intertwined.
If you haven't yet met Bruno and his fellow villagers of St. Denis, you're missing out. Well-crafted and intelligent, this series will satisfy readers with a serious taste for mystery and history, as well as food and France.
At least once a week, someone will ask whether we've read every book in the store. While appreciating that people might think we're that thorough in our reading, I must admit that, alas, not.
Even in this, our eighth year, I can't resist looking around, seeing a book by an author I've not read and reaching for it. Because I'm a fan of series, I'll usually select two or three. (Yes, that's one of the perks of owning a bookstore.)
That's how I happened upon Cynthia Riggs, whose series features Victoria Trumbull, the 92-year-young resident, poet, and duly appointed (but unpaid) police deputy in Martha's Vineyard.
As of last month, the series numbers 14 books with the release of Widow's Wreath
. But, I was hooked before I finished Victoria's debut in Deadly Nightshade.
Victoria Trumbull is a rare gem. Not only is she feisty, opinionated, and smart, she also refuses to let the aches and pains of aging put her on the sidelines. And no one knows Martha's Vineyard--its history, its people, and its gossip--better than Victoria. So, who better to ferret out the bad guys?
The setting is, for me, the icing on the cake. I've never been to Martha's Vineyard, but I've long been enchanted with it. As a young journalism student, I fell under its spell reading Henry Beetle Hough's Country Editor, the story of a small town weekly newspaper. For a year or two I even subscribed to the paper, The Vineyard Gazette. (I always wondered if I was its only subscriber in Oregon.)
I'm always being asked, "What book are you reading?" It's a problem because I didn't know books are read one at a time.
Generally I read a number of books at once, which naturally makes my bedside table a bit dangerous. Frankly, I'm of the opinion that people who only read one book at a time must lack imagination--or sufficient memory in their hard drive. (Sorry Paula!)
Books need to match the reader's mood. How do I know what I might feel like reading at any given moment? Maybe I'm feeling like plots and paranoia. So one of my bedside books currently is Gayle Lynds' The Book of Spies, about a select group of people who love gold- and jewel-encrusted books and the secret library that contains them just a bit too much--and are willing to subvert the government to protect their secrets. Books like this are for Paranoia Ann.
Then there's Agatha Christie's A Caribbean Mystery. It's good to have a classic or two around, and when I see a Christie title I know I've read yet can't remember a thing about it, including who did it, I put it on my pile and start. I also like to reread certain classics, like Cyril Hare's With a Bare Bodkin, repeatedly, usually for the humor. Obviously these are for Classic Ann.
Arnaldur Indridason's The Shadow District set in 1940s Iceland has been on my list for a while (OK, I thought I'd find it in The American Library in Paris), so it's now in my pile to keep my Scandinavian/historical tastes met. M.J. Carter's The Strangler Vine, set in 19th-century India, will satisfy my colonial India fixation when I get to it. Both books are for Historical Ann.
New action books like those by Lee Child or Nick Petrie and new books by favorites like Mick Herron or Jussi Adler-Olsen may not reach the pile. Compulsive-Action Ann blows through them in a day or two. (She has to because customers can buy them out from under her.)
I try to limit my books in progress to five or six titles, with three or four others in reserve. Otherwise, books get lost, and though I can remember what's happening, I can't recreate the mood I was in when I started. Life really is fleeting, I guess.
A sampling of July releases. Find more at www.stopyourekillingme.com and https://www.cozy-mystery.com/blog/soon-to-be-released-mysteries.
Megan Abbott, Give Me Your Hand [NS]
Nancy Atherton, Aunt Dimity and the King's Ransom [Aunt Dimity #23]
Ace Atkins, The Sinners [Quinn Colson #8]
Linwood Barclay, The Noise Downstairs [NS]
Lorna Barrett, Poisoned Pages [Booktown #12]
Lindsey Davis, Pandora's Boy [Flavia Alba #6]
*Paul Doiron, Stay Hidden [Mike Bowditch #9]
Martin Edwards, Blood on the Tracks [NS]
Nicci French, Day of the Dead [Freida Klein #8]
Cora Harrison, Death of a Novice [Reverend Mother #5]
* Lee Hollis, Poppy Harmon Investigates [Desert Flowers #1]
Iris Johansen, Double Blind [Kendra Michaels #6]
Alyssa Maxwell, Murder at Ochre Court [Gilded Newport #6]
* David Rosenfelt, Rescued [Andy Carpenter #17]
Daniel Silva, The Other Woman [Gabriel Allon #18]
Clea Simon, Fear on Four Paws [Pru Marlow Pet Noir #7]
Wallace Stroby, Some Die Nameless [NS]
Rebecca Tope, The Staveley Suspect [Lake District #7]
* Maine authors
Despite what some people want us to believe--we won't mention any names--we do live in a truly international world. Case in point: Iceland.
It no longer surprises us how many of our customers have been there. Virtually all, like us, have had high praise for this small island nation.
Not surprisingly then, 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).
Last year, he introduced his Shadow series with publication of The Shadow District.
Our favorite mystery blogger, Marilyn Brooks
, of Needham, Massachusetts, (www.marilynsmysteryreads.com) is another Indridason fan. This month, she weighs in on The Shadow Killer, the second book in the Shadow series.
In the 1940s, Iceland was undergoing dramatic changes. It was a sovereign nation connected to Denmark, with that country's King Christian X as its ruler, but with its own set of laws. Although Denmark was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1940 and there was a Nazi presence in Iceland, the latter remained neutral throughout World War II. Due to the island's strategic location, however, Great Britain illegally invaded it in 1940; a year later the United States, while still neutral, took over Iceland's defense and quartered thousands of troops there, making it the largest Allied base in the North Atlantic.
This small country, formerly politically unimportant, now was playing a major role in the Allies' defense, and of course that brought issues to Iceland that it had never faced before. The Reykjavík police department had only one detective, Flóvent, as there were very few homicides in the city. That was about to change, however, and Flóvent is called out to investigate a murder that will involve not only his own department but also the military forces of the United States and Britain.
The victim is at first identified as Felix Lunden, an Icelander of German decent, primarily because the corpse is found in the apartment he is renting. However, it is shortly discovered that this is not the correct identification, and Flóvent and Thorson, the latter a member of the British/Canadian military, must try to find out the dead man's identity as well as locate the missing Lunden.
Lunden's father, Rudolph Lunden, is a German-born physician and one of the few Germans who had been allowed to remain in Iceland after the outbreak of the war. But getting information from him about his son is nearly impossible, as the two have been estranged for years. When the two investigators begin looking into the murder and disappearance, they uncover Nazi ties involving not only the father and son but also the father's brother and the former German consul in Iceland. Tying the four men, at least superficially, to the Axis cause is a cyanide pill found hidden inside a suitcase in Felix's apartment.
When the corpse is finally identified as Eyvindur, a traveling salesman, Flóvent and Thorson begin looking for the woman who had shared Eyvindur's flat. Vera had last been seen leaving the flat in the middle of the night by a neighbor who voices her suspicions that the woman was a prostitute, consorting with the British and American soldiers while Eyvindur was away. So now there are two people involved in the murder who are missing.
The Shadow Killer is the second in Arnaldur Indridasôn's Shadow series that takes place in pre-war Iceland. It's a wonderful look back into a nation and its population that are undergoing major changes. As always, the author's characters and plot are first-rate and will keep you reading until the last page.