Name the American writer who has made a mystery bookstore the setting for her long-running (23 books and counting!) series. Name the bookstore as well as its owner.
Email your answer to email@example.com
(subject line: monthly quiz). The winner, randomly drawn from correct answers, will receive a $25 Mainely Murders gift card.
Congratulations to Rita Sporbert of North Adams, Massachusetts, who identified Margaret Frazer as the American mystery writer, who died in 2013, whose two series featured Dame Frevisse, a medieval nun in Oxfordshire, England, and Joliffe, the leader of traveling players in 15th-century England.
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. In May, we celebrate a number of noted writers.
Charlotte Armstrong, born May 2, 1905, in Vulcan, Michigan, was a prolific mystery writer. She won the Edgar in 1956 for A Dram of Poison.
Phoebe Atwood Taylor, best known for her Asey Mayo Cape Cod mysteries, was born May 18, 1909, in Boston. The series, beginning with The Cape Cod Mystery (1931), numbered 24. As Alice Tipton, she wrote mysteries featuring Leonidas Witherall, retired academic and secret pulp fiction author.
Margery Allingham, born May 20, 1904, in London, was the creator of Albert Campion, a suave London sleuth with noble blood. The Campion books, starting with The Crime at Black Dudley (1929), numbered nearly 30.
Arthur Conan Doyle, born May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh, wrote more than
50 books on numerous subjects during his career, but will be forever remembered for his creation of Sherlock Holmes. His first Holmes book, A Study in Scarlet, was published in 1887.
Robert Ludlum, best known for his many bestselling conspiracy novels, was born May 25, 1927 in New York.
Dashiell Hammett, born May 26, 1894, in Maryland, was a master of the American hard-boiled school of mysteries. Indeed, he was one who helped define it. While known for his Continental Op series (including The Dain Curse) and Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), he created the most famous of mystery couples, Nick and Nora Charles, in The Thin Man (1934).
Tony Hillerman, who set the bar for writing about Native Americans, was born May 27, 1925, in Oklahoma. Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Sgt. Jim Chee, of the Navajo tribal police, were at the center of most of Hillerman's 18 books. The Mystery Writers of America presented him with the 1991 Grand Master Award. He died in 2008.
Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, was born May 28, 1908, in London. A one-time British intelligence agent, Fleming wrote his first Bond book, Casino Royale, in 1953. After his death in 1964, other writers picked up the Agent 007 reins.
Thank you for supporting Mainely Murders Bookstore
and other small independent booksellers. At a time of increased dominance by
chains and online giants,
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.
Did You Know?
For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 stays in the local community. For every $100 spent at a national chain, franchise store, or online, only $14 remains in the community.
What better way to carry your books (or anything else) and the same time demonstrate your love of mysteries than with our Mainely Murders' black bag.
Made of durable fabric with reinforced 20-inch handles, the bag sports our recognizable logo. ($7)
Travel In Style:
'Mainely Murders Style'
Our classic black bag is made for travel-with books or anything else. Ann shows off one at the Sherloc
k Holmes Museum in London in February.
We know our customers love to travel--whether at home or abroad.
Show us where you've taken your Mainely Murders bag. E-mail (or snail mail) us a photo (jpg) and we'll share it with other newsletter readers.
Our gift cards are available in any amount. The perfect gift for any event--birthdays, anniversaries, or "just because."
Don't forget about Mother's Day (May 11) or Father's Day (June (15). We're happy to take mail/phone orders and will send to you or directly to the recipient.
New Releases Available
New releases may not be
our specialty, but we're delighted to special order them for our customers.
Whether it's a just-published book or one that's scheduled to be out in the weeks ahead, order by mail, phone, or e-mail. We accept Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. We ship USPS.
|In Paris this winter, we bagged some great French mysteries.|
It's official; we're open again.
Our annual winter travels are always wonderful. But, nothing beats the excitement that greets spring opening.
Although it's been only a little over a week, we've already seen customers old (as in, "regular") and new. With Ann still recovering from knee replacement surgery, we were a little concerned that we wouldn't be ready. But, thanks to the miracles of modern medicine--and two tin cans and a piece of string connecting house and shop--we're up and running. (For questions about obscure Scottish, Scandinavian, and classic authors, customers are being referred into the house.)
This weekend, it's Kennebunk's annual May Festival--a good time to check out our little town while visiting us.
Hope to see you soon.
Paula & Ann
Partners in Crime
P.S. As we mentioned last month, our selection of French mysteries has been greatly expanded--thanks to our winter sojourn. And, we have, while supplies last, a souvenir Eiffel Tower key chain for anyone purchasing a book from these offerings.
P.P.S. We're thinking of having a mystery book group or two. But we're only in the planning stages. Let us know if that appeals.
Sunshine Sale Now a Tradition
Our outside (sunny day) display of hardback editions started three years ago as a way to reduce excess (and space-consuming) inventory.
Now, it's a tradition. Indeed, we've even made some special purchases for our outside shelves.
So, this summer, let the sun shine in on some extra special bargains
Latest Readings . . .
Has Ann mentioned that she'd like to put together a Tartan (Scottish) Noir reading series this year? One that might even include a weeklong fall trip to Glasgow and Edinburgh??
More Tartan Noir (Ann)
In the meantime, while recuperating from knee surgery, she's gone beyond her usual Scottish favorites--Val McDermid, Stuart MacBride, Caro Ramsay, and Denise Mina--and offers up some additional recommendations.
Having blasted through Caro Ramsay's four great stories about Glasgow's Partickhill police station in two weeks, I decided to stick with Glasgow and move on to Craig Russell's books about Lennox, a somewhat shady PI. Set in the 1960s, it provides a decent (and humorous) take on the strengths and weaknesses of Britain's second city and its gangster-ridden culture.
I'm also enjoying Craig Robertson's four books starring a contemporary Glasgow policewoman and a police photographer.
Now I'm reading William McIlvanney, the father of Tartan Noir. His 1982 book Laidlaw pretty much did away with the cozy policemen and Scotland of William Knox.
More Donna Leon (Paula)
Paula waits patiently (okay, impatiently) for each of Donna Leon's Commisario Guido Brunetti
mysteries. The just-released By Its Cover, No. 23 in the series, was no exception. And, yes, we have it in stock, along with all the other Brunetti books.
In all of detective fiction, Guido is my absolute favorite detective. He's been called "the most humane sleuth since Georges Simenon's Inspector
Maigret" (Philadelphia Inquirer). As an observer of people and Venice, the city he so loves, he has few equals.
Through Brunetti, Donna Leon's vivid narrative of every nook and cranny in the most Serene City takes me there again and again--over every canal bridge and down every calle.
For the legion of Leon fans, By Its Cover may very
well be the best yet. Here, she's tackled the world of rare books, when Brunetti answers the frantic call from the director of a prestigious research library, reporting missing pages and stolen volumes from its collection.
Clearly, the bibliophiles among us will be reminded of the ravages of rare-book theft and what that says about our culture. For the mystery fan, there's the added attraction of theft, lies, blackmail, and murder. I loved it all!
Our Visit to 221b Baker Street
From his first appearance in 1887, Sherlock Holmes has been the world's most famous detective.
Indeed, he's a veritable industry. He's been the subject of books, films, radio and television shows,
| How many mysteries were solved here in Holmes' study?|
societies, museums, and postage stamps. All for the "man" that never really was, the creation of Scottish physician and author, Arthur Conan Doyle.
When the Sherlock Holmes Museum opened in 1990 on Baker Street in London, it became the world's first museum devoted to a fictional character.
The next time you're in London, stop in. We did on our winter trip. Just steps from the Baker Street Tube station, the museum gives you the feeling that Holmes (and Watson and Mrs. Hudson) just stepped away for a bit. (Warning: stair climbing is required. Fortunately, we were there before Ann's recent knee replacement surgery!)
Long-time fans of "Sherlockia," we stock a good supply. Although Holmes was featured in only four Doyle novels--A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Valley of Fear--56 short stories, published in magazines of the period, have been republished in collections. We also stock new mysteries featuring our hero.
Prior to any of our travels, we steep ourselves in crime and detective fiction of the area. This winter, we spent a few days in Belgium.
But trying to prepare for a trip to Belgium by reading mysteries would leave you with a fairly skewed vision of the country. Despite the fact that Belgium supplied one of the most famous fictional detectives (Hercule Poirot) and one of the most famous mystery writers (Georges Simenon), it's not fertile ground for fictional crime.
Part of the problem is the weak sense of Belgian identity. Of its 11 million people, 6 million are Flemish [a Dutch dialect] speakers; 3.5 million French; 1 million German; and the rest mostly Moroccan or Turkish. Most of its native crime writers are Flemish.
Still, Nicolas Freeling's 17 mysteries about
Brussels-based Henri Castang do give some sense of the country and its legal system, although many of the stories take place some time ago and outside the country.
Michele Bailey, Patrick Conrad, and Jef Geeraerts have limited output. Bailey's three books about a temp worker in Brussels who keeps stumbling onto murders are accessible. Conrad's two mysteries involve Antwerp's (famous) red light district. No Sale will have huge appeal to film noir fans: women are murdered in ways that parallel film deaths.
Geeraerts, a former colonial administrator, is Belgium's most famous mystery writer, but only one of his books, The Public Prosecutor, is translated. It is, however, a tour de force. Albert Savelkoul is rich, powerful, and self-satisfied. Then he runs afoul of his wife and her Opus Dei priest, and the man you love to hate turns into the man you root for. Not for everyone, but brilliant.
It's probably best to watch the film In Bruges, one of our favorites, to get some sense of the country.
Nights of Awe
While there are a number of Jewish detectives, both historical (for example, Caroline Roe's Isaac of Girona and David Liss' Benjamin Weaver) and contemporary (Marissa Piesman's Nina Fischman and Ian Sansom's Israel Armstrong), none could be more exotic than Harri Nykanen's Ariel Kafka, one of two Jewish cops in all of Finland.
Nights of Awe, the first and so far only Kafka book translated, is set--unsurprisingly to Jewish readers--in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Because two Arab-looking men may have been shouting anti-Jewish curses before they died, Kafka is chosen to solve the crime--quickly.
Lied to by Finish security forces and by nearly everyone else who purports to help him, he perseveres. Much dark humor without the dark mood of many Nordic cops, and a really good (and convoluted) mystery. A welcome addition.
Beware, Nykanen's other series stars a Finnish hit man. Several of these have been published by Ice Cold Crime, which focuses on very noir stories.
Goodbye to Another Mystery Bookstore
It's with great sadness that we report the loss of another mystery bookstore. Book 'em Mysteries, a haven for mystery lovers in Pasadena, California, announced its closure last month.
After 24 years, co-owners Mary Riley and Barry Martin are closing the door on the last remaining mystery and crime fiction bookstore in the Los Angeles area.
In addition to drawing customers from throughout the Los Angeles area and bringing some of the best of mystery writers for regular signings, the couple hosted their own wedding there four years ago.
Left Coast Crime Awards
The Left Coast Crime conference, held in late March, is one of the year's biggest and most prestigious.
The Lefty Award (best humorous mystery) was
presented to Brad Park's The Good Cop. Other finalists were The Hen of the Baskervilles, Donna Andrews; The Fame Thief, Timothy Hallinan; The Last Word, Lisa Lutz; Dying for a Daiquiri, Cindy Sample.
The Bruce Alexander Memorial Award (best historical mystery) went to Catriona McPherson's Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses. Other finalists were Heirs and Graces, Rhys Bowen; His Majesty's Hope, Susan Elia MacNeal; Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell; Covenant with Hell, Priscilla Royal; Leaving Everything Most Loved, Jacqueline Winspear.
The Squid Award (best mystery set in the U.S.) was presented to William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace. Contenders were W Is for Wasted, Sue Grafton; Purgatory Key, Darrell James; The Wrong Girl, Hank Phillippi Ryan; A Killing at Cotton Hill, Terry Shames.
The Calamari Award (best mystery set anywhere else in the world) went to Louise Penny's How the Light Gets In. Other finalists were Murder Below Montparnasse, Cara Black; Hour of the Rat, Lisa Brackmann; As She Left It, Catriona McPherson;
Mykonos After Midnight, Jeffrey Siger.
We love the announcement of the winners of the annual Dilys Awards, presented by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association for the book members most enjoyed selling. Maybe it's because Mainely Murders, as a member of the association, gets to vote!
This year's winner, presented at the Left Coast Crime Conference in Monterey, California, was Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger.
Other finalists were Seven for a Secret, Lyndsay Faye; The Black Country, Alex Grecian; Spider Woman's Daughter, Anne Hillerman; Pagan Spring, G. M. Malliet.
The following are upcoming May releases by some Mainely Murders favorite authors. Find more at www.stopyourekillingme.com.
Robert B. Parker's Cheap Shot, Ace Atkins, Spenser continuation #3
The Lincoln Myth, Steve Berry, Cotton Malone #9
Ghost Ship, Clive Cussler & Graham Brown, NUMA Files #12
The Skin Collector, Jeffery Deaver, Lincoln Rhyme #10
Deal Killer, Vicki Doudera, Darby Farr #5
The Shroud Maker, Kate Ellis, Wesley Peterson #18
The Soul of Discretion, Susan Hill, Simon Serrailler #8
The Prayer, Philip Kerr
The Keeper, John Lescroart, Dismas Hardy & Abe Glitsky #18
The Long Shadow, Liza Marklund, Annika Bengtzon #8
Unlucky 13, James Patterson & Maxine Paetro, Women's Murder Club #13
Resistant, Michael Palmer
Field of Prey, John Sandford, Lucas Davenport #24
Trouble in the Cotswolds, Rebecca Tope, Thea Osborne #12
Our Customers Recommend
We enjoy hearing from mystery readers about the books they've read. And, so do our customers.
Susan Stewart of Kennebunk has been, from day one of Mainely Murders, the best of customers (and friends). We're so pleased when she offers her thoughts on what's she's reading:
I don't think I would have survived this winter-from-hell had it not been for my stash of mysteries from Mainely Murders. I made sure to stock up before Ann and Paula took off for Paris, knowing that I needed a hefty arsenal to keep from going stir-crazy around these parts.
Ordinarily the dark months find me heavily invested in bleak Scandinavian noir. I really don't like to think that there's anyone out there who isn't as cold and miserable as I am. But my winter favorite this year turned out to be Scottish rather than Nordic.
Caro Ramsay's four mysteries take place in Glasgow and, like all the best stories, the location becomes a star player in its own right. The group of Partickhill police detectives who work the cases are sharply drawn . . . and sharp of tongue . . . and the plots are intricate and well-delineated. Furthermore, Ramsay manages to tie up all the loose ends . . . is there anything more annoying than story lines that go absolutely nowhere? These books are entertaining and engrossing, and I have become a major Caro Ramsay fan. Next one due in July . . . I'm glad I don't have to wait until next winter.
A quick shout-out to the cool lady I met at the bookstore last summer who turned me on to the Swedish Wallander DVD series. These were a big part of my winter survival package and are available through interlibrary loan. They are really well scripted and the acting is top-notch. Thank you . . . and hope to see you working the aisles at MM sometime soon.
Mainely Murders is an independent specialty mystery bookstore devoted exclusively to suspense, crime, and detective fiction. Our stock of used recent and hard-to-find hardcover, trade paper, and mass market volumes ranges from classics and cozies to tough guys and thrillers.