Identify the ex-NYPD homicide cop who trades the Big Apple for life in Portland as a detective sergeant, partly to escape a dark past and partly to give his teen-age daughter a life away from big-city violence. In addition, name the author of this so-far five-book series.
Send your answer to email@example.com (subject line: quiz). Winner will be randomly drawn from correct entries.
Congratulations to Les Blatt
of Springfield, New Jersey, who identified Charlotte MacLeod as the author of a humorous series about the antics at a New England agricultural college. Botany professor Peter Shandy, his librarian wife, and faculty colleagues star.
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.
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 20 Campion mysteries, starting with The Crime at Black Dudley (1929). She died in 1966.
Arthur Conan Doyle
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.
, 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.
, 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.
, 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.
May 29, 1874, in London and died in 1936. Although he was a massively prolific writer, his fame today rests principally on a few of his popular books on Christianity and on his five books of short stories featuring Father Brown, a Roman Catholic priest who solves crimes through his understanding of human evil.
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. And, if they enjoy it and would like their very own free subscription, tell them to sign up. 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.
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.
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 your 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.
It's official. Opening day 2018 is tomorrow. The first week is always special as we greet the return of customers and friends.
Of course, it's always met with a certain amount of trepidation. Will you return? Will new mystery lovers discover us? Have we made the right book choices for the new year? What have we forgotten?
Those worries aside, we look forward to seeing you. Ann says she's discovered some wickedly sinister new titles for those who like the darker side. Paula says she's planning to bake cookies. Really. In our eighth season, do people still have trouble telling us apart?
Hoping to see you soon.
Paula and Ann
Partners in Crime.
P.S. Just because you can't be here tomorrow or even next week doesn't mean you can't get your favorite books from us. We happily accept mail, phone, or e-mail orders. You can reach us at 207-985-8706 or email@example.com. We'll contact you to confirm your order, availability of titles, and method of payment. Unless otherwise requested, we ship all books USPS media mail.
Don't Forget Mom
Sunday, May 13, is Mother's Day. We've got it on good authority that Mom is very likely a mystery reader.
And, a word to the wise: Father's Day is Sunday, June 17.
Our Favorite Winter Reads
For us, the off season is not only for travel, but it's a time to catch up on our reading--books that we missed during the busy season, those we'd been saving for quieter times, and those newly discovered while traveling.
Briefly, here's a rundown on those we found particularly noteworthy--thus highly recommended--as we head into the new season. There was some duplication in our selections. We're both now thoroughly addicted to L.C. Tyler's wildly humorous Ethelred Tressider and Elsie Thirkettle madcap capers. (See Ann's description). Likewise, Joe Ide, who also appears on Ann's list, is now a must-read for each of us. (His third, Wrecked, comes out in October.)
Once I stopped re-reading old favorites, I did move on to new authors.
IQ (2016) and Righteous (2017), Joe Ide
debut novel, IQ
, introduced a diverse cast of
"friends" (some less helpful than others) befitting the racially diverse neighborhood our hero lives in and the death that has so affected his life. Often, as in Righteous
, no good deed goes unpunished.
Isaiah Quintabe (IQ) is a sensitive, introspective young guy who happened to grow up on the wrong side of the tracks. Fortunately, encouraged by his straight-arrow brother to have a strong sense of morality, IQ also has equally strong street smarts. Both serve him well as he takes on the role of informal neighborhood watchdog in East Long Beach, California.
Ide has begun a modern-day series in which the influence of his love for Sherlock Holmes is quickly obvious. There's a reason IQ has been called "Sherlock in the 'hood."
The Ethelred Tressider and Elsie Thirkettle series, L.C. Tyler
In seven books this terribly mismatched couple, a semi-successful crime novelist and his semi-successful and constantly disparaging agent, find a number of bodies and "solve" a number of murders.
If you like extremely clever writing and unreliable narrators greatly influenced by Agatha Christie, you will love these books. Saying anything more would give the plots away.
Victim Without a Face (2015), Stefan Ahnhem
It's back to the dark side, a 2014 hit in Sweden. Two school (and after) bullies are horribly murdered, and their one-time classmate, who has just returned to his hometown in an effort to save his marriage, is assigned the case. The issue obviously is who in his school hated them so much, but there is no shortage of suspects--or bodies.
Quite a good story. Lots of nice twists and turns. If only our hero Fabian Risk were slightly more sympathetic. His wife should leave him.
The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye
Lagercrantz isn't Stieg Larsson, but this is still a fun book (for those who don't mind serious violence--and there are many of you out there with me--some even beyond my tolerance level).
Lisbeth Salander, with the help of Mikael Blomkvist, is digging deeper into her fairly horrible past, with the expected result. This time Lisbeth adds Swedish biker gangs as well as Islamists to the long list of people who want her dead.
I read almost constantly in the winter. While in Paris, while Ann takes classes at Alliance Française, I'm reading. (Okay, when I'm not out wandering around my favorite city.) Like Ann, I sometimes return to old favorites, usually classics, but I was pleased to find plenty of new titles this year. Ann also chose two of my winter favorites, Joe Ide (IQ and Righteous) and L.C. Tyler's laugh-out-loud Tressider and Thirkettle capers. It seldom happens like that, but. . .
The Temptation of Forgiveness (2018), Donna Leon
Guido Brunetti is my all-time favorite detective. With The Temptation of Forgiveness, the 28th title in this most masterful series, my passion for the Venetian commissario grows.
This time, Brunetti's attention is split between his
attempt to uncover internal leaks within the Questura and an investigation closer to home, one brought about by a visit from his professor-wife's colleague, a woman fearful that her son is involved with drugs.
All the best of Leon's writing--including her obvious love for Venice--and Brunetti's character--including his devotion to his family and his passion for the classics--come through stronger than ever.
To Die But Once (2018), Jacqueline Winspear
Maisy Dobbs (2003) was not, according to its author, intended to be the beginning of a best-selling series. Nor had Winspear intended to write "a war novel," first, early on in World War I, and now at the beginning of World War II.
However, thank goodness she did. Starting with Maisy's nursing troops early in the "war to end all wars," we've followed her, now a government agent, to the period shortly after Britain has declared war on Germany.
To many Brits, those early days were uncertain, but for Maisy, who's first drawn into an investigation of the disappearance of a young intern involved in a hush-hush government contract, it's just the beginning. No need to give anything away here--we all know what happens before long--but if you've followed Maisy, you'll want to continue. If you haven't, To Die But Once is a good time to get started.
The Color of Fear (2017), Marcia Muller
It had been a while since I'd read one of Muller's
Sharon McCone's books. But this one, the 34th in the long-running series about her San Francisco Bay area PI, reminded me why I've been a fan since Edwin of the Iron Shoes
(1977), her first.
In The Color of Fear, danger hits close to home--as it often does when McCone's involved--when her father is the victim of a vicious racially motivated hate crime. Fans learned long ago that the bad guys are in trouble when they piss off this tough-gal PI.
The Scarred Woman (2017), Jussi Adler-Olsen
Over the last couple years, Adler-Olsen has taken over as our best-selling Scandinavian author. It's easy to see why; he just gets better and better. Look no further than The Scarred Woman.
Detective Carl Mørck's Department Q has from the beginning--The Keeper of Lost Causes (2011)--been held together by an unusual chemistry. In The Scarred Woman, Copenhagen's cold cases squad meets its toughest challenge when the troubled past of one of its members collides with a sinister unsolved murder.
A Climate of Fear (2016), Fred Vargas
Fred (Frédérique) Vargas
span> is one of my favorite French crime writers. Yet, while a bestseller in France--with each of her books garnering critical acclaim--and unusually accessible to English-language readers, she remains surprisingly unknown among Americans. Hugely intelligent, with great dialogue, wonderful imagery, and imaginative storylines. In addition to being a best-selling writer, Vargas is also an historian and archaeologist, both of which inevitably shine through in her writing.
In A Climate of Fear, the eighth title in a series featuring Parisian chief inspector Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, two murders made to appear to be suicides are found linked by a disastrous Icelandic expedition years earlier. It's a chilling tale of a remote island, from which two didn't return, and the lies that begin to unravel 10 years later.
The Curse of La Fontaine (2017), M.L. Longworth
If I read Fred Vargas novels for their sophisticated writing and wonderfully imaginative storylines, I read M.L. Longworth's Provençal whodunits for pure fun. France, mysteries, and food. What's not to enjoy?
The sixth in Longworth's series featuring Antoine Verlaque, the chief magistrate of Aix, and his now-wife, law professor Marine Bonnet, in Aix-en-Provence, The Curse of La Fontaine finds the food-loving couple embroiled in a chef friend's plans to expand his popular restaurant. Bitter local politics, a frightening curse in an historic courtyard, and even murder can't threaten the appeal of this most appetizing story.
Back By Popular Demand
For those who can't resist the mysterious--why else would they be at Mainely Murders?--our popular grab bags are back.
We're kicking off the season with a new selection of the colorful bags. Each bag ($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), Legal Eagles (courtroom drama), and Murder on Stage (some productions are real killers).
New additions: Murder's in Fashion (for the well-dressed killer), Fishin' for Murder (it's all about the bait), and Getting Old Is Murder (senior sleuths).
Remembering Philip Kerr
Philip Kerr, author of the popular novels featuring Nazi-era detective Bernie Gunther, died March 30 in London. He was 62.
Beginning with March Violets (1989), Kerr's much- acclaimed series focused on the cynical Berlin criminal police investigator, later turned private investigator, with a deep hatred for the powerful Nazi regime. His 2017 Prussian Blue was nominated for the 2018 Edgar Award for Best Novel. His 13th book in the series, Greeks Bearing Gifts, was released just days after his death.
In addition to more than a dozen non-series novels, in 2014 and 2015 Kerr published three mysteries featuring a coach for a Premier League football club, and its all-around fixer, in London.
While we were listing our most enjoyable winter reads, we asked around to discover what others might contribute.
Clara Whetstone of Kennebunk, Ann's 96-year-old mother, had an immediate answer: Death of an Honest Man (2018), M.C. Beaton's 34th Hamish MacBeth title.
I love the Hamish character. Beaton's Agatha Raisin books are okay, but Hamish is my favorite. I've read every book, and they're all still on my bookshelf. She writes one a year, but I wish she wrote more. She should. After all, she's not all that old (82).