Sue Grafton is indisputably the mystery queen of the alphabet; the bestselling author is now through W in her Kinsey Millhone series. But, she's not the only writer to have taken on the alphabet theme. Name the writer of American cozies who has used the entire (yes, all 26 letters) alphabet in the titles in a long-running series.
E-mail your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line: monthly quiz). The winner, randomly drawn from correct respondents, will receive a $25 Mainely Murders gift card.
Congratulations to Peggy Anne Ayers of Biddeford, who named the creators and employers of the following secretaries in mystery/detective fiction:
Miss Lemon: Agatha Christie, Hercule Poroit
Velda: Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer
Della Street: Earle Stanley Gardner, Perry Mason
Signorina Elettra: Donna Leon, Vice Questore Patta
Esperanza Diaz: Harlan Coben, Myron Bollitar
Miss Moneypenny: Ian Fleming, M (MI6)
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.
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. She died in 1976.
Margery Allingham, born May 20, 1904, in London, was the creator of Albert Campion, the suave London sleuth with noble blood. Allingham is one of our biggest English classic sellers. In all, she wrote some 30 Campion mysteries, starting with The Crime of Black Dudley (1929). She died in 1966.
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. Doyle died in 1930, but the Holmes legacy is as strong as ever.
Dashiell Hammett, born May 25, 1894, in Maryland, was master of the 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 one of our favorite mystery couples, Nick and Nora Charles, in The Thin Man (1934). He died in 1961.
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. Daughter Anne continued the series in 2013 with Spider Woman's Daughter. Her second book in the series, Rock with Wings, will be released this month.
, the creator of the
world's best-known spy, 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.
We are first and foremost a mystery bookstore for readers--not collectors. But, we do have a limited inventory of books signed by their authors. Go to
www.mainelymurders.com for a recently updated list.
All signed books, unless otherwise noted, are hardback, first edition titles in very good to fine condition. Prices do NOT include cost of shipping, which is via U.S.P.S.
Whether it's a favorite author of your own or you just want to delight a friend or relative with a signed edition from his or her favorite, signed books make a great addition to a reader's collection.
Members of Portland Dine Around, Maine's premier dining/entertainment rewards program, enjoy a savings every time they shop at Mainely Murders.
Show your 2015 membership card and you're entitled to a special offer: buy two books and receive 50 percent off a third book of equal or lesser value.
Portland Dine Around--with over 300 affiliate partners from Rockport to Bethel, Portland, Kennebunk, and south--is valid through December, and still available here.
With success, our bookshelf space grows tighter. So, too, does parking for our customers.
You're welcome to park in the driveway. Street parking is available, as is space in the lot across Bourne Street.
While our next door 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 on Saturdays.
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)
Our gift cards are available in any amount. The perfect gift for birthdays, anniversaries, or "just because."
We're happy to take mail/phone
orders and will send to you or directly to the recipient.
It's official; we're open for another season. This being our fifth, we thought we'd take it in stride. But, still, there's always a little apprehension.
We needn't have worried. There they were, customers both old and new. We're so fortunate!
We're looking forward to a wonderful season ahead. We continue to make changes in line with what customers have shown us they want--trying to find more out-of-print classics and books from British publishers, for instance. Other requests--like the cappuccino machine and the wine bar--haven't yet made it to the top of the list.
Hope to see you soon.
Paula & Ann
Partners in Crime
We Love Maine Mystery Writers
And, thanks to the multitude who call Maine home (even for only part of the year), there's a mystery for every taste--from the very cozy to the darkly noir.
This year, we're putting the spotlight on Maine authors. We already know you like them--some are among our biggest sellers.
So, if you're one of those who are already fans of writers like Tess Gerritsen, Paul Doiron, Gerry Boyle, Katherine Hall Page, Sarah Graves, Kate Flora, Lea Wait, to name a few, or if you're just getting started, we're offering an incentive.
Now through September 15, those who purchase any book (new or used, hardback or paper) by a Maine crime writer will be entered into our Maine mystery writers contest. No restrictions on how often you can enter; one entry for each book purchased.
The winner, to be announced October 1, will receive. . . Well, that's a mystery. But, clues will be announced periodically. However, beware of red herrings.
Jack Reacher: Everyone's Hero
Fans of bestselling author Lee Child know that nobody kicks butt like Jack Reacher. Now, we're doing some butt kicking of our own.
Thankfully (for you) due to an overstock of hardbacks, almost all Child hard covers in stock are on sale, while supplies last, for $5 each, less than the cost of our paperback editions. Most are first editions with dust jackets.
Longtime Reacher fans or new converts, take advantage of this offer now.
Grab Bags; Give 'em a Shot
Check out our mystery grab bags. After borrowing the idea from a bookstore in Scotland--and trying it late last year--we're bringing it back. Each bag is filled with a selection (or two or three) from our stock--from the well-known to the self-published, from the coziest of cozies to the darkest of the noir, from Maine and New England to the international. You won't know until you open it. After all, it's a mystery. The limited-edition bags are $5 each, and available while supplies last.
Don't Forget Mom
Mother's Day is Sunday, May 10. And, despite what she says, "a nice card" really isn't enough.
If Mom--that includes mothers-in-law, stepmothers, grandmothers, too--is a mystery reader, we've got you covered. We have something for every mystery reader. Not sure? Gift cards, available in any amount, are always a hit. And, Moms, it doesn't hurt to drop a few hints as the day approaches.
For those who like to plan ahead, Father's Day is Sunday, June 21.
What We're Reading
Jussi Adler-Olsen (Ann)
Despite recommendations by friends and family, I fought climbing on the Adler-Olsen bandwagon. Much of it was probably a bias against reading about women being kidnapped (a subject I seldom read about) and the focus of Adler-Olsen's first book, The Keeper of Lost Causes (Mercy).
But they were right on. Once I started reading (last first), I did love the quirky characters, the humor, and the many twists and turns to the plots.
The characters, both minor and major, are a particular joy. Returning to work after a traumatic shooting, Copenhagen detective Carl Mørck is selected to head the newly formed Department Q, which is supposed to solve cold cases and keep the grumpy Mørck out of other people's hair.
Without any staff or even windows in his basement room, it is hardly a good beginning. Over several books he acquires a staff. First the mysterious Assad, then Rose, even grumpier than her boss. The interplay among the three is priceless.
Mørck's home life is nearly as dysfunctional.
The plots feature dogged detective work, suspense, and the unexpected. The criminals are often both brutal, intelligent, and sometimes sympathetic. Their motivations intelligible.
All together this is a first-rate series, the best I have read in awhile. And although I did not read the books in order, it would probably be a good idea to do so. The characters and situations at the police station do evolve as time goes by. Having said this, the books are not for the faint of heart.
Rita Mae Brown (Paula)
Despite my fascination with Scandinavian noir, I do, unlike Ann, maintain a certain fondness for the lighter side of murder.
Long before Rita Mae Brown turned to mystery writing--back in the days of her semi-autobiographical novel, Rubyfruit Jungle, and the best of her early poetry, Songs to a Handsome Woman--I was a fan. Now, decades later, with three major mystery series under her belt, Brown has legions of fans; and I'm still among them.
Best known are her Mrs. Murphy Mysteries, "co-written" with Sneaky Pie Brown, her tiger cat collaborator, featuring Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her crime-solving cats, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and the ever-faithful corgi Tee Tucker. With the newest release, Tail Gait, due out later this month, the series stands at 23.
If Brown reveals her love of four-legged friends in the Mrs. Murphy series, she does so in spades with her series featuring "Sister" Jane Arnold, Master of the Fox Hunt, in Jefferson, Virginia, where the horses, hounds, and foxes themselves always rule. Starting with Outfoxed (2000), the author shows no signs of stopping, with Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, published last year, her ninth.
Brown has moved her latest series out west, where Mags (Magdalene) Rogers, a former Wall Street banker, and her sidekick, a dachshund named Baxter, relocate from New York City to her great- aunt Jeep Reed's Wings Ranch near Reno.
Cozies by all means--talking cats, dogs, horses, foxes, a virtual four-legged menagerie to mix in with her casts of likeable human characters. How much cozier can it possibly get? And, Brown's talent for great dialogue (whether out of the mouths of humans or non-humans), character development, and a strong sense of place is always in evidence.
A sampling of May releases. For a complete list, visit www.stopyourekillingme.com. All can be ordered directly from Mainely Murders.
Ace Atkins, Robert B. Parker's Kickback [Spenser continuation #4]
Rita Mae Brown, Tail Gait [Mrs. Murphy #23]
Lincoln Child, The Forgotten Room [Jeremy Logan #3]
Laura Childs, Ming Tea Murder [Tea Shop #16]
Ann Cleeves, Thin Air [Shetland Island #6, 1st U.S. edition]
Colin Cotterill, Six and a Half Deadly Sins [Siri Paiboun #10]
Clive Cussler & Boyd Morrison, Piranha [Oregon Files #10]
Catriona McPherson, Come to Harm [NS]
James Patterson & Maxine Paetro, 14th Deadly Sin [Women's Murder Club #14]
Good friend Susan Stewart of Kennebunk, a self-acknowledged queen of Scandinavian mystery readers, looked closer to home and found a real gem: Minnesota writer (and Edgar Award winner) William Kent Krueger.
During most Maine winters you can find me curled up with the latest Jo Nesbo or Arnaldur Indridason, relishing the dark world of Scandinavian crime fiction. But this winter was so brutal that I needed something upbeat to keep me from having a full-fledged envy attack, thinking of Ann and Paula larking around Paris and Barcelona. (They rubbed it in by emailing mouth-watering photos of the fruit tarts they shared for dessert.)
I like outdoorsy stuff, probably because I spent most of my early years on the subway and the grass is definitely greener anywhere else. I'm a big Paul Doiron and C.J. Box fan, and had picked up Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger late last year before the bookshop closed, not realizing that it was the first in a 14-book series.
The books follow the life of Cork O'Connor, part Irish/part Indian former Chicago police detective, who returns with his wife and family to his home town of Aurora, deep in the heart of the Minnesota lake district. Like so many current antiheroes, Cork has a hair-trigger temper and problems bending to authority. His tendency to go rogue puts him in direct conflict with the local law enforcement officers he works with at the sheriff's office. But his courage is never in doubt and he has been declared pure of heart by the group of tribal elders who are guiding his life-path. There's a lot of Native American lore in these books (think Tony Hillerman) and the scenes that are set in and around "The Rez" are among the most colorful in the series.
There are some lovely descriptive passages but no overblown metaphors, thank goodness. Krueger is a modest writer, but he tells a good story with a minimum of fuss and a good deal of skill. He keeps the reader guessing right to the end and isn't above using red herrings and other plot devices to ratchet up the suspense.
You really don't have to be a "wilderness wonk" like me to enjoy this series. And if you do like Iron Lake, is there anything better than knowing that there are 13 others out there, waiting to be read? That translates into nirvana in my book.
One of our favorite customers, Marilyn Brooks of Needham, Massachusetts, is the ultimate mystery reader. She not only reads countless books, but she reviews them on her blog (www.marilynsmysteryreads.com), which we highly recommend. This month, she brings us up to date with Maine writer Tess Gerritsen.
The powerful Boston team of Rizzoli and Isles is back, working on a murder that spans two continents. Jane Rizzoli, police detective, and Maura Isles, medical examiner, are brought into a case that seems bizarre from the beginning, but they have no idea of just how strange it's going to get.
Die Again opens with a safari in Botswana, consisting of a party of three men and four women plus their tracker and guide. This section of the novel is told by Millie Jacobson, the girlfriend of Richard Renwick, a well-known British novelist. It was Richard's idea to go on a safari, the better to write another of his macho adventure books. But murders stalk the safari, with not one body but two.
Back in Boston, Jane and her detective partner Barry Frost are called to the home of an internationally known hunter and taxidermist, Leon Gott. Surrounded by the many animals he shot and mounted on his walls, Leon's body is found hanging upside down, his insides removed. Not a view for the faint of heart.
Tess Gerritsen has written another spellbinding novel. Readers of the 10 previous novels in the series and viewers of the television show, now in its sixth season, will want to read Die Again to see Rizzoli and Isles together once more. It's fascinating to see the personal and professional relationship between the two women develop over the course of the novels.
Helen Kitzman of Madison, Connecticut, and New Orleans is a devoted reader of English cozies. Historical mysteries also top her list of great reads. Looking at the nominations for this year's Agatha Awards, to be presented by Malice Domestic at its award banquet on May 2, Helen was happy to see several of her favorite authors.
It's good to see that for the second year Malice Domestic has included "Best Historical Novel" in addition to the re-named "Best Contemporary Novel."
This year many great storytellers are listed there, including two nominations for Charles Todd (the pen-name of the mother/son team of Caroline and Charles Todd), one each from the Bess Crawford and Ian Rutledge series. Both are excellent, revolving around Great War (WWI) casualties. Rutledge fights a perpetual battle to hide his ongoing mental strife from his superiors at Scotland Yard as he travels around gloom-filled English villages solving unsolvable crimes. Reminiscent of the Barbara Cleverly books about Scotland Yard and post-war India, Todd's Crawford series moves between England and the French battlefields of WWI.
A prolific writer of multiple mystery series, Rhys Bowen has been nominated for the latest in her Lady Georgiana books set in a much brighter, and lighter, 1930s England. Her Molly Murphy series about an Irish immigrant-turned-PI captures late 19th/early 20th-century NYC, as does another Agatha nominee, Victoria Thompson, at street level portraying a law enforcement system in which the criminal element is present inside and outside precinct buildings.
Other nominees, Donna Andrews and Margaret Maron, write in a somewhat lighter vein about the contemporary rural South. Both the Meg Landslow and the Deborah Knott series capture the complexities, and the humor, of living in very large families.
And what is there left to say about Louise Penny,
who justifiably wins awards each year for her mysteries capturing the inner turmoil and outer calm of villagers in rural Quebec?
This year the nominees are a wonderful group of mysteries, and writers, for all of us who love page-turners.
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.