Name the New England (part-time Maine) crime writer--both fiction and non-fiction--whose late mother was the author of one of our best-selling summertime mysteries, The Maine Mulch Murder.
Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
(subject line: quiz). Winner will be randomly drawn from correct entries.
Congratulations to Wendy Johansen of Westbrook who identified Lorna Barrett (L.L. Bartlett) as the author of the Booktown mystery series featuring fictional small town, Stoneham, New Hampshire, full of bookstores, including Tricia Miles' mystery emporium, Haven't Got A Clue.
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.
Paula says June is her favorite birthday month. How many people can say they share a birthday with Australian writer Kerry Greenwood, author of the Phryne Fisher mystery series?
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
mysteries 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.
, 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
Dorothy L. Sayers, born June 13, 1893, was the creator of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. She died in 1957.
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.
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 . . ."
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.
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.
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.
Blame it on our advancing years--not that our customers are aging--but May found us slowly moving into the season. But, it's June now, and that means summer is almost here.
We're ready. Between new releases, last year's
hardback bestsellers moving into mass market editions, our customers' unquenchable thirst for the latest international titles, and their penchant for enjoying both U.S. and British classics, there's much to look forward to this summer.
Paul Doiron's popular series featuring Maine game warden Mike Bowditch returns
in an eighth title,
on June 13
Now in our seventh year, we've become a destination for many. "We wouldn't think of coming to Maine without first coming there," wrote one of our summer visitors, who requested a "stack of books" awaiting her arrival this month.
Whether you're coming from far away or just around the corner, you're always welcome at Mainely Murders.
Paula and Ann
Partners in Crime
Don't Forget Dad
Father's Day is Sunday, June 18. If Dad's a reader, we've got you covered, whatever his pleasure, and gift cards,too! And, we'll be happy to gift wrap.
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
Welcome to Our Garden Plot
Visitors to Mainely Murders this time of the year invariably discover our Garden Plot, aka our Garden of Malice.
Largely recognizable by its low-maintenance features--after all, we're booksellers, not gardeners!--our garden favorites are the perennials. As in the perennial best-selling garden-themed mysteries.
Really, if you haven't already been afflicted with the symptoms--aching back, overworked shoulders, various cuts and scrapes--be warned, gardening can be dangerous!
For those who craft crime fiction, a key is that gardening has all the necessary ingredients for murder.
Weapons abound. And, not just shovels, spades, pruning knives, and shears. That helpful bee and various wasps and hornets can be more than minor irritants--for those with allergies.
Poisonous plants are everywhere. The ever-popular hemlock may be the first that comes to mind, but there are others with villainous-sounding names like belladonna, deadly nightshade, lantana, monkshood, and chokecherry.
Then there's the garden shed, home of weed killers, pesticides, and caustic fertilizers. The ban on cyanide-based rat poison has been a terrible loss.
Furthermore, once the deed is done, there's a plethora of places to hide the body. Beneath the rose bush is a particular favorite. There's also under the corner compost or mulch pile.
Yes, we love our Garden Plot.
What Ann's Been Reading:
Okay, I did revisit a few humorous British classics by Cyril Hare and Macdonald Hastings, then I got back on track reading railway-theme mysteries like Mary Roberts Rinehart's The Man in Lower 10 and Ethyl Lina White's The Lady Vanishes. Meanwhile I was reading my two new authors Gillian Galbraith (contemporary Scotland) and Catherine Shaw (late 19th-century Cambridge).
Gillian Galbraith, herself an advocate (lawyer), writes about Midlothian and Borders (principally Edinburgh and Leith) police detective Alice Rice whose life initially revolves around her work and her dog.
In her first book, Blood in the Water, a series of murders in Edinburgh targeting hugely successful professional men and women leaves her with little time to think about loneliness. In succeeding books the victims are a successful sheriff (judge) and rather less-successful prostitutes in Leith. Excellent with much on the Scottish legal system and contemporary Scottish society.
Catherine Shaw (actually mathematician and academic Leila Schneps, who lives in France) is best known for her books about Vanessa Weatherburn, a teacher, then housewife, then detective in Victorian Cambridge.
Some of you may have read The Riddle of the River (woman's body floating in the River Cam) or The Library Paradox (suspect left before the killing shot was heard), both published by Felony & Mayhem in this country. The oddity is that there are two books before these--The Three Body Problem (three dead mathematicians at an Oxford college where Vanessa's future husband is a fellow) and Flowers Stained with Moonlight (where the now-married Vanessa is asked to prove the innocence of a wife who is the main suspect in her husband's death). More recently there's Fatal Inheritance in which a violinist kills himself to the surprise of his friends.
Now it is true that the rigorous logic required to solve the crimes as Vanessa does may put some readers off. The author is, after all, a mathematician where logic is fairly important. I survived failing to solve some of the crimes. Not easily, but I bore up.
What Paula's Been Reading:
Of the qualities I most enjoy in mysteries, humor rarely makes the list. The exception is British author Ian Sansom, whose "humor" is truly laugh-out-loud funny.
It starts with the author's Mobile Library Series, in which Israel Armstrong, a nebbish, Jewish, vegetarian London transplant reluctantly accepts a position as the librarian in a small Northern Irish village. Upon arrival, he finds the library closed and the books missing. His "new" job, he's told, is to hunt down the errant books, while staffing the town's decrepit bookmobile.
The four-book series--The Case of the Missing Books, Mr. Dixon Disappears, The Book Stops Here, and The Bad Book Affair--is a riotous romp across the Irish countryside. By the way, hold onto your hat; it's a bumpy ride.
Now, Sansom has returned with a new series--The County Guides--with more quirky characters, smart funny dialogue, and over-the-top story lines.
Professor Swanton Morley, "The People's Professor," is an omnivorous intellect, whose latest endeavor ("the grand project") is a county-by-county, book-by-book, historical guide to England. By his side (under his thumb?) is his assistant, Stephen Sefton, a disillusioned, impoverished Spanish Civil War veteran.
Murder and mayhem lurk on the horizon. And, that's before barely beginning their trek to what the professor envisions as every single one of England's 40-plus counties.
If the first four titles--Mystery in Norfolk, Death in Devon, Essex Poison, and Westmoreland Alone
--foreshadow what's to come, Sansom's (er, Morley's) celebration of all that is English will be the most maniacal, idiosyncratic, and enjoyable of all time.
With a timeline that promises to produce a volume every three to four weeks, The People's Professor is not about to let a murder (or two or . . . ) derail him from his most monumental task.
While his assistant admits doing his best to share his boss' enthusiasm, "Every time we finished a book, I vowed never to return." But, every time, he failed. "I was drawn back, again and again. I never understood why."
Once I started this series, I knew the feeling.
Amelia Peabody Is Back
Fans of the late Elizabeth Peters (1927-2013) have for several years mourned the loss of the author's iconic character, Amelia Peabody, the Victorian feminist Egyptologist.
They can soon celebrate her return, with the July release of The Painted Queen, the book Peters was writing at the time of her death. Veteran mystery writer Joan Hess took on the job of completing her long-time friend's twentieth Amelia Peabody title.
With many fans hoping The Painted Queen will be a fitting wrap-up of the series that started with Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975), it could not have been an enviable task for Hess to try to fill the shoes of the bestselling Peters, a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master.
Traveling Book Bag
International travel is a favorite of our book bag, but one never knows where it might appear--like at the Memorial Day Weekend Vintage Baseball event, sponsored by Kennebunk's Brick Store Museum, where a favorite customer Bruce Jackson was manning the hot dog booth.
Lorna Barrett, A Just Clause [Booktown #11]
John Grisham, Camino Island [NS]
*Lee Hollis, Death of a Lobster Lover [Hayley Powell #9]
, Take Out
[Sigrid Harald #9]
Maggie Sefton, Only Skein Deep [Knitting #15]
Martin Walker, The Templar's Last Secret [Bruno #10]
*Books by Maine authors.
**All these books are in the "It's not over 'til it's over" category. Jane Bunker last appeared nine years ago, Sigrid Harald 22 years ago, and Merry Folger 19 years ago.
Does the talent for mystery writing run in families? That's the question mystery blogger Marilyn Brooks of Needham, Massachusetts (www.marilynsmysteryreads.com), has been pondering.
Is it nature or nurture? A combination of both? Simply the luck of the draw?
I've just bought a copy of Anne Hillerman's latest mystery,
Song of the Lion, from Mainely Murders. I will be blogging about the novel in a few weeks, and it occurred to me to wonder how many mystery authors come from a family where another member also writes detective stories or thrillers.
When the latest issue of the Mystery Writers of America magazine arrived with a profile of Alafair Burke, daughter of James Lee Burke, I started counting the familial relationships in mystery writing. I came up with several daughter/father writers: Anne and the late Tony Hillerman, Sue and the late C.W. Grafton, and Liz Dombrosky and Tony Perona. Then there are Caroline and Charles Todd, mother and son; Mary and Carol Higgins Clark, mother and daughter; Felix and his late father Dick Francis; Daniel and his late father Michael Palmer; and Faye, Jonathan, and Jesse Kellerman, mother, father, and son.
Does the nature/nurture question apply to couples as well? Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini, Frances
and Richard North, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Nicci Gerard and Sean French (Nicci French), Aimée and David Thurlo, and Alexandra Coehlo Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril (Lars Kepler) are a few who come to mind. And here are the Kellermans again--Faye and Jonathan. Did their writing natures draw these twosomes together, or are the careers nurtured by their partner/spouse?
One of the fun things about making these lists is that it reminded me of authors whom I hadn't read, either at all or in a long time. So I've been able to add a few more names to my to-be-read-soon list.
I'm a strong believer in talent, especially musical talent, running in families. Loving as my parents were, they unfortunately had no musical genes to pass along to me. But I did get my love of reading from them, especially from my father. Add to that the fact that my dad was a New York City policeman--patrolman, sergeant, lieutenant, and eventually captain--and you can probably see how I came naturally to my love of crime--fictional, that is.
So hurrah for whatever abilities we've gathered from whatever source--nature or nurture--it really doesn't matter. We may not be able to write as well as the members of the families listed above, but we certainly have one ability--we can recognize outstanding writing talent when we read it!