Ask writers and they'll tell you it's a tough business. Many a would-be professional has been told, "Keep your day job." Name the author of the series whose protagonist/writer sidelines as a thief--in Amsterdam, Las Vegas, and Paris, among other places.
(subject line: quiz). Winner will be randomly drawn from correct entries.
Congratulations to Terri Hoitt of Hingham, Massachusetts, who correctly identified Philip Craig and William Tapply as the two New England writers/friends who combined their extraordinary talents to write three mysteries co-starring their protagonists, J.W. Jackson and Brady Coyne, from their own popular series. The trio of books--First Light, Second Sight, and Third Strike, which many hoped would be a continuing series--ended when the writers died within a year of each other.
The winning entry, drawn from a number of correct responses, was good for a $25 Mainely Murders gift card.
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.
Eric Ambler, screenwriter and master of the spy novel, was born June 28, 1909, in London, England. A Coffin for Dimitrios is often cited as one of the best all-time spy novels and features his typical amateur, inadvertent hero. A Mystery Writers of America Grand Master (1975), he died in 1998.
MWA Grand Master Lawrence Block
, born June
24, 1938, in Buffalo, New York, is the creator of one of the great characters of crime fiction, Bernie Rhodenbarr, "the burglar who . . ."
, bestselling Welsh spy novelist, known for his Edgar- winning Eye of the Needle
, was born June 5, 1949. In 2013, the Mystery Writers of America honored him as a Grand Master.
Tess Gerritsen, born June 12, 1953, in San Diego, says she knew at a young age that she wanted to write stories like those in her favorite Nancy Drew books. But, first, she became a physician. Today, a perennial bestselling author with her Rizzoli and Isles mysteries, she resides here in Maine (Camden).
Kerry Greenwood, born June 17, 1954, in Footscray, Australia, is a lawyer and writer of numerous novels, but it was her Phryne Fisher mysteries that brought her worldwide fame after the Australian TV show Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries was aired.
Val McDermid, born June 4, 1955, in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, was a reporter and is the author of three mystery series, featuring Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan, and Dr. Tony Hill/Carol Jordan. Great success came when the last was turned into the BBC TV show Wire in the Blood.
Sara Paretsky, who along with Sue Grafton and Marcia
Muller, is credited with
revolutionizing the mystery
world with the tough-gal PI, was born in Ames, Iowa, on June 8, 1947. Her PI, V.I. Warshawski, first appeared in Double Indemnity
(1982). Paretsky, an MWA Grand Master, was also instrumental in founding Sisters in Crime in 1986.
Dorothy L. Sayers
June 13, 1893, was the creator of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. She died in 1957.
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're now accepting other modes of cash payment: the euro and the British pound (at prevailing exchange rates).
We hope it will be 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'll accept the Canadian dollar from our northern friends.
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)
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
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.
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.
June is a wonderful month. We see more and more
"snow birds" returning. Vacationers arrive in greater numbers. And, "real Mainers"--those who tough out winters here--have more time to get out and about (when they're not gardening).
During the weeks ahead--it's true; we tend to measure summer in weeks here in Maine--we hope to host some events. But, they're dependent on the weather since our tiny shop requires that they be outdoors, so they often begin as impromptu gatherings.
Our Classic Crime Contest (see below) continues this month. We haven't announced the prize yet; but, rest assured, food and books will be involved.
Here's to a wonderful summer ahead. Hope to see you soon.
Partners in Crime
Don't Forget Dad
Father's Day is Sunday, June 19. Several people who stopped in to purchase Mother's Day gifts last month told us they'd be back for gifts for Dad.
Always our No. 1 Father's Day gift is our special edition Murder at Fenway Park gift basket, with Troy Soos' classic baseball tale, along with a supply of peanuts and Cracker Jack.
If Dad happens to cheer for "the other team," he's in luck--with our New York Yankees basket, anchored by another Soos mystery, The Tomb That Ruth Built.
As always, we're happy to wrap for gift giving. And, gift cards, available in any amount, are always a hit.
Classic Crime Contest
Our Classic Crime Contest, being held through the end of June, has been a big success. Customers who picked out a classic to read or re-read last month have returned--"I forgot how much I liked _______."
Remember, for each purchase of a "classic" (or golden oldie) book, you'll receive an entry into our contest. There's no limit on number of entries per person. And, if you're wondering, we're loosely defining "classics" as those written by authors no longer living.
Move Over Cabot Cove
Readers of Tourist News, circulated along the coast from Kittery through Portland, have been getting a lesson in Maine-themed mysteries.
The Kennebunk-based publication regularly features articles like "Move Over Cabot Cove," detailing some of Maine's mysterious locales. Clearly, small coastal towns--most, like Cabot Cove, fictitious--carry considerable cachet among mystery writers and readers. Just don't go looking for them on a map.
Hats off to publisher/editor Judith Hansen for recognizing that Maine is a virtual mecca for mystery readers. And, you needn't be a tourist to enjoy Tourist News, available at some 400 locations, including Mainely Murders.
Mike Bowditch Is Back
Maine author Paul Doiron has been a bestseller at Mainely Murders from the very beginning: his prize-winning debut, The Poacher's Son (2011).
Later this month, Mike Bowditch, Doiron's game warden in the wilds of Maine, is back in his seventh appearance, Widowmaker. In search of answers that may shake up his own life and the world he's been trying hard to forget, he travels through a mountainous wilderness to a place hidden from the rest of the world.
If, by chance, you've overlooked this engaging author and his equally engaging protagonist--or simply missed one of his earlier books--we try to have all in stock: The Poacher's Son, Trespasser, Bad Little Falls, Massacre Pond, The Bone Orchard, and The Precipice.
Stephen King X 3
Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes, winner of 2014's Edgar for Best Novel, was billed as the first part of a trilogy from Maine's most famous writer. After last year's follow-up, Finders Keepers, the story of retired police detective Bill Hodges and his nemesis the Mercedes Killer concludes with a spectacular finale, End of Watch, this month.
While the first two titles felt like pure, grisly mystery fiction, End of Watch reveals more of King's trademark heart-pounding, supernatural, bone-chilling suspense.
Raising the Dead
Like many, we're not big fans of writers taking over the books of their deceased creators. (Kind of like the wrong person, Tom Cruise, playing Lee Child's Jack Reacher.)
While done with the encouragement of estates--whether from a desire to keep the original writer's name "alive" or, less altruistically, to maintain
profits--most, frankly, don't live up to their predecessors.
An exception, for Paula, is the continuation of Tony Hillerman's Navajo Tribal Police series by his daughter Anne. The original Hillerman series, all but three of the 17 with both Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, set the bar for writing about Native Americans.
In her two titles to date--Spider Woman's Daughter (2013) and Rock with Wings (2015)--Anne Hillerman has shown that she shares her father's reverence for the Navajo culture. It's no surprise. A longtime journalist and non-fiction writer, she wrote Tony Hillerman's Landscape: On the Road with Chee and Leaphorn.
If, like Paula, you're fascinated by Native American culture, you're in luck. Whether, like the Hillermans, the scene is the desert Southwest, or elsewhere, the mystery list goes on--for example, James Doss (Ute/Colorado), Stan Jones (Inupiak/Alaska), William Kent Krueger (Ojibwe/Minnesota), and Aimee and David Thurlo (Navajo/New Mexico).
Bookstores: Scene of the Crime
Long before Mainely Murders, bookstores were a passion. We both recall, as children, the excitement of visiting a bookstore. (For Ann, Gimbels in Philadelphia with her grandmother Nana.) Add to that our love of mysteries, starting equally early; no wonder we're mystery booksellers.
We're not alone in having found the connection between bookstores (good old-fashioned brick and mortar ones) and, well, good old-fashioned crime. Indeed, bookstores appear as crime scenes in dozens of mysteries (from the serious to the cozies).
Now with a 25th in the series,
Carolyn Hart has been writing her Death on Demand series since 1987 and was the first to envision a mystery bookstore owner protagonist. Others have followed including Lorna Barrett's Booktown series with Tricia Miles, owner of Haven't Got a Clue mystery bookstore in a small New Hampshire town.
There are ghostly bookshops, like Alice Kimberly's Haunted Bookshop series; small town bookshops and their owners like Joan Hess' Claire Malloy in rural Arkansas; even a Maine bookstore, Alison Kingsley's Raven's Nest Bookstore. Every bookstore, it seems, has a resident cat; although only one is so-named, the Black Cat Bookshop mysteries.
Antiquarian (old/used/rare) bookstore owners with a penchant for crime and crime solving include Lawrence Block's NYC burglar/bookstore owner Bernie Rodenbarr (The Burglar Who. . .), John Dunning's Colorado ex-cop/bookseller Cliff Janeway, and M.K. Wren's former intelligence officer-turned-bookstore owner on the Oregon coast.
Those whose tastes run to short stories can sample Otto Penzler's Deathly Sentences: Stories of Deathly Books, Murderous Booksellers and Lethal Literature. Its title pretty much says it all.
For readers whose interests take them abroad, there's Esmahan Aykol's Kati Hirschel, owner of Istanbul's only (surprise!) mystery bookstore. And of course, Carlos Ruiz Zafon's much acclaimed The Shadow of the Wind, set in Barcelona.
Traveling Book Bag
The Mainely Murders book bag has taken to the high seas. It recently sailed through the Panama Canal (left) with customers Ross and Priscilla
Wyman. It was also spotted at a Cancun resort, courtesy of Monica Fischbach and Stephanie Deveau.
If your Mainely Murders book bag has taken to the sea (or sky or highway or...), we'd enjoy sharing it with others. E-mail your photo (jpg) and details to email@example.com
Publishers learned long ago the value of great titles. (Truth be told, publishers, not the authors, are more often than not the source of the name you read on the cover.)
Titles can take on whole lives of their own. Think Lilian Jackson Braun's 30-book Cat Who. . . series. For Braun, who died in 2011, the titles could have gone on forever. Sue Grafton's alphabet series--having reached X last year--has nearly come to the end, after starting with A is for Alibi in 1982.
Some titles, like those of J.A. Konrath featuring Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels of the Chicago Violent Crimes Unit, nearly jump off the shelf (or bar)--starting with Whiskey Sour (2004), then Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail, Dirty Martini, Fuzzy Naval, Cherry Bomb, Shot of Tequila, and Shaken.
Others simply beg you to open the book--Shoot the Woman First (Why?), The Madmen of Benghazi (Vs. the Sane Ones?), Killed at the Whim of a Hat (That's some hat!), The Detective Wore Silk Drawers (and we care?).
We suggested last month selecting one of our mysterious grab bag, then adding your own sandwich and a drink for a most mysterious lunch.
Each colorful book-filled grab bag ($5 each) contains three mass-market paperbacks tied to a specific theme like Legal Thrillers, Sweet Revenge, Cozie Killers, and Christie Capers.
Customer Jean-Pierre Banville of Quebec City, Quebec, (left) took us up on our suggestion and ate lunch outside our bookstore.
A sampling of June releases, which, you will note, include several of our customers' favorite authors. Find a complete list at www.stopyourekillingme.com. All can be ordered directly from Mainely Murders.
Mark Billington, Die of Shame [NS]
Cara Black, Murder on the Quai [Aimee Leduc #16]
Paul Doiron, Widowmaker [Mike Bowditch #7]
Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, The Pursuit [Fox & O'Hare #4]
Joseph Finder, Guilty Minds [Nick Heller #4]
Stephen King, End of Watch [Bill Hodges #3]
Martin Limon, Ping Pong Heart [George Sueno & Ernie Bascom #11]
Keith McCafferty, Buffalo Jump Blues [Sean Stranahan #5]
Walter Mosley, Charcoal Joe [Easy Rawlins #14]
James Patterson and Mark Sullivan, Private Rio [Jack Morgan #11]
Brad Thor, Foreign Agent [Scot Harvath #15]
Martin Walker, Fatal Pursuit [Bruno Courreges #9]
Author Steve Berry has a big following among our customers--and rightfully so. His writing, paired with his fine grasp of historical detail, makes for fascinating reading. The Templar Legacy (2006) was the debut of his series featuring Cotton Malone, an ex-U.S. Justice Department agent. [Mainely Murders has all in stock.]
It seems as if the Cold War will never end. In The 14th Colony, Steve Berry takes readers on a journey from colonial times through World War II up to the present, with secret agreements and hidden agendas all around.
Cotton Malone is retired from the Justice Department, but now he's been called on for a special mission. He is asked to do a reconnaissance in the Lake Baikal region of Siberia, not the friendliest landscape on earth. He's flying an old World War II Russian plane in order to examine a group of buildings on the border of the lake when suddenly the plane is fired upon and he's downed. He manages to get out of the plane only to find himself facing two men in ski masks, carrying automatic rifles. They fire at Cotton, he fires back, but before the men have a chance to respond, an explosion from a surface-to-air missile kills them both.
Back in the United States, it's the next to last day of the second term of President Danny Daniels. Stephanie Nelle is in the midst of an argument with the soon-to-be attorney general, Bruce Litchfield, about getting help to rescue Cotton, but Bruce is adamant. He says she didn't run this mission by him, and he sees no need to assist her or Cotton.
There's no love lost between Bruce and Stephanie, especially since Bruce implemented Stephanie's ouster as the head of the Justice Department's Magellan Billet unit, which will take place immediately upon the inauguration of the new president. In addition, the entire unit will be abolished. Litchfield exits the office, leaving Stephanie to work out how to rescue Cotton.
At the same time, Department of Justice agent Luke Daniels is following a Russian named Anya Petrova. Luke's uncle, the president, has told him to trail the woman and find out what she's doing. She's definitely a "person of interest," as she's the lover of Aleksandr Zorin, a former KGB officer. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, it's Zorin who lives in one of the buildings near Lake Baikal and who sent the two men to shoot down Cotton's plane.
The 14th Colony refers to Canada, and that wording goes back to the 1700s. During the American Revolution, the colonists invaded Canada (then consisting only of Quebec and Ontario), certain that the Canadians would want to join the thirteen colonies and gain their freedom from England. The colonists were defeated, but in 1781 (seven years before the colonies would become an independent nation), the Canadian Articles of Confederation stated that British-held Canada could join the U.S. automatically at any time they chose to do so, without even the agreement of the United States.
There's an incredible amount of history in this novel, starting with the American Revolution and continuing up to today. The story line contains not only the plot to annex Canada but nuclear weapons, the 20th amendment to the Constitution, and a secret agreement between the president of the United States and the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
There's a huge cast of characters in this novel; in addition to those listed above, Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II make an appearance. The narration moves between Cotton, Stephanie, Aleksandr, and Luke, but thanks to Steve Berry's excellent writing there's never any confusion as to whose voice the reader is hearing. The plot and the writing will hold you in a tight grip until the very end.