We're taking a vacation in November from our quiz.
But, we obviously hit a chord last month when we asked readers to identify the writer--neither a Mainer, nor even an American--who lived here much of his life (and eventually died here), and used Maine as the setting for two titles in this long-running series about a pair of Amsterdam cops. We asked that you name both the writer and his police officer duo.
The answer, of course, was the celebrated Dutch writer Janwillem van de Wetering [1931-2008]. His detective duo were Amsterdam policemen Henk Grijpstra and Rinus de Gier.
Congratulations to Karen A. Miller of Cape Porpoise, winner of a $25 Mainely Murders gift card, whose entry was randomly drawn from the many we received.
Karen, one of several readers who thanked us for reminding them of the Dutch writer, said van de Wetering was "one of my favorite authors and I miss his characters immensely."
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.
Anna Katherine Green
of The Leavenworth Case
(1878), was born November 11, 1845. This classic novel, among the very first mysteries written by a woman, featured Ebenezer Gryce, a New York City police detective. She died in 1935.
, born November 24, 1900, in Boston, created one of the most famous clerical detectives, Rabbi David Small. His first book in the series, Friday The Rabbi Slept Late
(1964), won the Edgar for Best First Novel. He died in 1996.
John Dickson Carr, who also
wrote under the pseudonym Carter Dickson, was born November 30, 1906, in Pennsylvania. Best known for his locked-room mysteries, he was honored as a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1963. He died in 1977.
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.
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.
. . . from, wherever we are--but we think,
somewhere near Louise Penny's idyllic little Quebec town of Three Pines.
We've been on a short break since October 24, but we'll soon be back in the shop with a fresh trove of books and, especially, a tale or two about our search for the tiny hamlet, home to Clara, Ruth, Myrna, Olivier, Gabri, and, now, Armand and Reine Marie Gamache. (And Ann is hoping for a trove of monastery cheese.)
We (even Paula!) know that Three Pines exists only on the pages of Penny's books, but here we are.
Beginning November 9, we'll be open with our regular hours (Wednesday-Saturday, 10-5:30) throughout November and December, closing December 31 until spring.
For those who like to get an early jump on holiday shopping, Small Business Saturday is November 26, two days after Thanksgiving. Stop in to check out new selections, sample some holiday fare, and receive free gift wrapping.
Paula and Ann
Partners in Crime
We're Hosting Killer Crime Writers
At The Kennebunk Free Library
Join us at the Kennebunk Free Library, 112 Main Street, on Monday, November 21, at 6 p.m. as we welcome noted Maine mystery writer Kate Flora and former Portland police detective-turned-crime writer Bruce Robert Coffin.
The authors will discuss and sign their books, tell of their own paths to mystery writing, and offer their views on why Maine is such fertile ground for crime writers. The event is free, but books, now available here at Mainely Murders, will be available for purchase the evening of the event. Pre-ordering books here is appreciated.
Flora, a Maine native and former assistant attorney general, has long been a favorite of ours. While also known for her non-fiction books like Finding Amy: The True Story of a Maine Murder, and Death Dealer, a true crime involving a Canadian drug dealer, we particularly enjoy her Portland-based series featuring homicide detective Joe Burgess (Playing God, The Angel of Knowlton Street, Redemption, and And Grant You Peace).
Coffin's debut novel, Among The Shadows, features Detective Sgt. John Byron, a seasoned cop investigating the apparent murders of retired fellow police officers. It's a can't-put-down thriller that could have only been written by someone, like Coffin, who's been there.
The cop-turned-writer was a detective sergeant with more than 27 years in law enforcement when he retired from the Portland Police Department, where he supervised homicide and violent crime investigations. He also spent four years working counter-terrorism with the FBI.
We're looking forward to seeing lots of customers and friends that evening.
. . . you get the idea. If you're like Paula, it's never too early to begin reading Christmas mysteries. In all fairness, she enjoys all holiday-themed mysteries--Halloween is another big favorite--but no season comes even close in numbers to those written about Christmas.
For a long time, we thought (okay, Ann thought) it was just one of Paula's harmless peculiarities. But, this year, we've had a number of customers asking about them--Christmas mysteries, not Paula's peculiarities.
So, for those who can't wait until the Thanksgiving table has been cleared--or even for this year's Anne Perry Christmas mystery--just ask and we'll pull out the boxes. Otherwise, we stick to our commitment to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to begin celebrating the next holiday.
Honeymooners have discovered Mainely Murders. Over a recent two-week period, we met four just-married couples--including Meghan and Jessica Kelly, from Sherman Oaks, California, who described themselves as "huge mystery readers." We couldn't help sending them off with our signature book bag.
We Highly Recommend
Customers accustomed to our recommendations of authors from abroad shouldn't be surprised that we hold many Americans with the same high regard--many of whom are overlooked among the mega-star authors.
Susan Elia MacNeal [Paula]
If you haven't already discovered this author--especially if you're a fan of writers like Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd--you're missing out.
Maggie Hope, an American living in England, is a typist-turned-spy for MI-5 in 1040s London.
Since introducing Maggie in the much-heralded
Mr. Churchill's Secretary in 2012, MacNeal has gone on to write five additional equally well-received titles--Princess Elizabeth's Spy, His Majesty's Hope, The Prime Minister's Secret Agent, Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante, and, newly released, The Queen's Accomplice.
MacNeal is one of those cherished writers who seems to get better with each book. I loved Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante, but, then, I'm a huge
Carol O'Connell [Ann]
With Carol O'Connell's 12th Kathy Mallory novel (Blind Side ) out in late September, now's the perfect time to consider reading the crime series about America's great flawed female cop operating in its great flawed city--New York. (In this case reading or rereading Mallory's Oracle, O'Connell's first book, setting up the outlines of the backstory, makes good sense--and the story's great.)
Brilliant, beautiful, and, latterly, rich, it's hard to know what Mallory (it's always Mallory) might have been like had she not spent time alone on the streets of New York as a young child. As it is, she is distant, machine-like, and often cold--even to friends. Yet her knowledge of the dark side of humanity allows her to deduce things other detectives on the Special Crimes Unit cannot.
One of the great appeals of the Mallory series is piecing together Mallory's past and learning more about the people around her. Without much help they try to protect her from some of the evils of her past and of her job and from her unwillingness to follow the rules, any rules, that stand in her way when working on a case.
If these books were translations from European
books, we'd all know Mallory.
Craig Johnson [Paula]
I admit it. I may have been one of the last to discover Craig Johnson, albeit "discover" is an exaggeration. I've long known about Johnson, and sold countless books featuring Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire.
The series debuted in 2004 (The Cold Dish) and reached 15 titles with this year's release of An Obvious Fact.
Having recently been accused of a bias toward female protagonists (more about that later), I emphasize here that Walt Longmire, Johnson's veteran sheriff in Absaroka County, Wyoming, is a great character. That, along with a fine Western storytelling style, and strong sense of place (a riveting depiction of Bighorn country) make this series special.
As for my bias toward female protagonists, I offer as evidence in my defense the "stars" of my most frequently recommended series: Martin Walker's
Benoît "Bruno" Courrèges, Louise Penny's Armand Gamache, and Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti.
Thomas Perry (Jane Whitefield) [Ann]
Thomas Perry's Jane Whitefield series is an interesting twist on the Native American mystery. Jane herself is half Seneca, the westernmost of the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy centered in New York. She lives among non-Seneca, yet keeps many of the customs and the language.
She neither solves crimes nor commits them, rather, she protects people from becoming victims of more powerful and malign people or groups: the Mafia, powerful corporations, and very, very rich people. She is a "guide" who moves the threatened into another life and location and shows them how to keep from being noticed while they build another life.
For these services, she charges nothing. If things work out, people may send her gifts--money, identity documents, birth certificates. But if she accepts you, it's free.
Of course, the rich and powerful have lots and lots of resources and many of her people don't immediately get the concept of no contact with their previous life. So there's lots and lots of action and bad people dying. Very, very satisfying.
William Kent Krueger [Paula]
I've said it before--and I'll continue to say it--William Kent Krueger is perhaps the best storyteller of any of today's writers.
He's gotten more attention since winning the Edgar--and virtually every other mystery-writing award for his 2013 standalone, Ordinary Grace--but I'll continue to sing his praises until he becomes an annual must-read for mystery lovers.
His now 15-book series featuring Cork O'Connor, "three-quarters Irish and one-quarter Ojibwe Indian" lawman in Northern Minnesota, is storytelling at its finest.
To those who have previously thanked me for introducing them to this most masterful of writers, and now await each new book, the pleasure has been all mine.
We really don't spend all our evenings reading mysteries or even watching grim, mostly foreign, police procedurals. Detectorists is proof.
It's a beguiling and gently humorous BBC series about two men whose lives center on metal detecting in rural England and the hope that they might find a treasure hoard. (While not really a mystery, it does have a few mysterious elements.)
The appeal is really the rural scenery, the conversations of the friends as they walk over the fields, and their often odd (very odd) friends. And since it takes place in the summer, it's a great winter series for those of us who live in Canada or the northern U.S. (Available on Netflix and sometimes on public television.)
A sampling of November releases. Find a complete list at www.stopyourekillingme.com. We're happy to accept special orders for new releases.
David Baldacci, No Man's Land [John Puller #4]
Linwood Barclay, The Twenty-Three [Promise Falls #3]
Ali Brandon, Twice Told Tail [Black Cat Bookshop #6]
Andrea Camilleri, A Voice in the Night [Montalbano #20]
JoAnna Carl, The Chocolate Bunny Brouhaha [Chocoholic #16]
Kate Carlisle, Deck the Hallways [Fixer-Upper #4]
C.S. Challinor, Judgment of Murder [Rex Graves #11]
Lee Child, Night School [Jack Reacher #21]
Marcia Clark, Moral Defense [Samantha Brinkman #2]
Ellen Crosby, The Champagne Conspiracy [Wine Country #7]
Clive and Dirk Cussler, Odessa Sea [Dirk Pitt #24]
Jane Cleland, The Glow of Death [Antiques #11]
Vicki Delany, We Wish You a Murderous Christmas [Year-Round Christmas #2]
Kjell Eriksson, Stone Coffin [Ann Lindell #3, 7th published]
Charles Finch, The Inheritance [Charles Lennox #10]
Robert Harris, The Concave [NS]
Jenn McKinlay, Better Late Than Never [Library Lover #7]
Betty Hechtman, Hooking for Trouble [Crochet #11]
Keigo Higashino, Under the Midnight Sun [NS]
Lisa Jackson, Expecting to Die [Selena Alvarez & Regan Pescoli #7]
Jane Ann Krentz, When All The Girls Have Gone [NS]
Barry Maitland, Ash Island [Harry Belltree #2]
David Morrell, Ruler of the Night [Thomas DeQuincey #3]
Anne Perry, A Christmas Message [Christmas Mystery]
Hank Phillippi Ryan, Say No More [Jane Ryland #5]
Helen Kitzman of Madison, Connecticut, and New Orleans, shares a new "favorite" with fellow-customers.
When I was working, I thought I would finally have a chance during retirement, that golden period of life, to read all the mystery series that I had been waiting to savor. Now I am beginning to despair.
First, the classic British writers wrote too many books in multiple series. Secondly, my "bookstore friends" continually try to entice me to start new authors, Scandinavian, French, or Italian, who also have many books. Thirdly, I am heavily involved with at least three book fairs each year, and while ostensibly finding books for my bookstore friends, I find too many new authors that I really want to read first before passing on their books. Life can so easily become cumbersome and unfair.
So when, on my own, I recently discovered a new author, I decided that this one would just not make it to my list. One must make rigorous choices in life. But unfortunately I was wrong yet again. And not just because Booklist claims this series is "the best in crime fiction today."
Ann and Paula will also be thrilled, for the author is John Farrow (pen name of Trevor Ferguson) who hails from Canada.
Louise Penny fans, listen up! You will want to try Farrow's Emile Cinq-Mars thriller series. In The Storm Murders, a 2015 addition, Farrow's writing style is similar to that of James Lee Burke, with social and philosophical commentary linked to a complex and clever plot.
A venerated retired sergeant-detective of the Montreal city police, Emile, and his wife Sandra, an American, raise horses on their farm, but are not enjoying their extended leisure time together these days. Emile is drawn into helping the FBI with a geographically dispersed series of murders where couples have all been executed during storms. One crime link among others is that each executed person has had the ring finger cut off.
The latest crime on a Montreal farm after a blizzard, complicated by the execution of investigating police officers, opens the story. Early on, Emile and Sandra travel to New Orleans to join forces with local police in tracing a similar execution related to the infamous Danziger Bridge police killings post-Katrina. Complicated, yes?
As you all know, New Orleans is near and dear to my heart, and I loved the charm and humor of the characters who interact there with Emile. So John Farrow has joined my list. Read one and see if you don't say the same!