So you can help celebrate our trip to Scotland, name the individual authors who write about the following five locations: Perth, St. Andrews, Kirkcudbright, Lewis, and the Shetlands.
Email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line: monthly quiz). The winner, randomly drawn from correct answers, will receive a $25 Mainely Murders gift card.
Congratulations to Jocelyne Decarie of Boileau, Quebec, who unscrambled the letters to form the titles of three books by Agatha Christie, the grand dame of mystery puzzles. Indeed, Jocelyne actually caught us in a mistake; the correct title of the third book is THE Murder on the Links. Yes, our newsletter readers know their mysteries!!
* A Murder Is Announced (Siemcn Roanuadnu D Er )
* The Murder At The Vicarage (Ev Ardehuca Tet Garerm Tih)
* The Murder On The Links (Sl Dromu Etn Ernkih)
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.
Helen MacInnes, the Scottish writer of numerous romantic espionage novels, was born October 7, 1907, in Glasgow. Her books were written after she moved to the U.S. in 1937. She died in New York City in 1985.
Evan Hunter was born October 15, 1926. While a successful writer under his own name, it was as Ed McBain (87th precinct books) that he achieved his greatest fame because he was the first to develop the police squad with its different personalities as the crimesolver. Awarded the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master award in 1987, he died in 2005.
John Le Carré, a former British intelligence officer who became one of the premier spy novelists, was born October 19, 1931, in Dorsetshire. His most famous protagonist was George Smiley, who appeared in six books.
Andrew Vachss was born in New York City on October 19, 1942. Many of his more than 25 novels have focused on the very dark underbelly of his hometown, especially that involving the abuse of children.
Simon Brett, born October 28, 1945, in Surrey, found success in writing about his combined interests--theater and crime--and more recently a small village named Fethering and a pair of slightly crazed lesser nobility in the 1920s, Blotto and Twinks--think P.G. Wodehouse.
Large Print Books
We occasionally receive large print mysteries. While they are rarely the most recent releases, they run the gamut from contemporary to classics and from cozies to thrillers. Space constraints prevent us putting them on our shelves, so please ask if you're interested.
Let Us Be Your NEW Bookstore, Too
You've shown how much you like our gently used books. They are, and will remain, our specialty. But, new releases are vitally important in today's book business.
We'd love to be your resource for new books, too. Let us order that just-published book--or one that's set to be released in the days or weeks ahead.
When you order a new book from us--or purchase one from our shelf of new releases--you'll become part of our exclusive New Book Club. Once you've bought five during the year--no need to keep track, we'll do it for you--you'll receive a $15 Mainely Murders gift card as our thanks
We've all seen what happens when small independent booksellers can no longer compete with, first, the big box stores, and, now, the internet giants. Think about it.
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.
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 any event--birthdays, anniversaries, or "just because."
We're happy to take
mail/phone orders and will send to you or directly to the recipient.
Someone recently asked us our Christmas plans. Hey, the temperatures and leaves are just beginning to fall--and we've got lots going on this fall.
Topping the list is a short hiatus to Scotland, where we hope to return home with plenty of Tartan Noir for our shelves. That's the good news; the bad (for some) is that we'll be closed October 29-November 11. Upon our return (November 12), we'll set out a plate of authentic Scottish shortbread for customers to sample. (Ann's suggestion of haggis failed its first test--Paula.)
In the meantime, in the dry, sunny days that we hope remain, our Outdoor Sunshine Sale of hardcover books, which we expanded last month to include international titles, will continue. Those long dark days of winter--just made for reading--are drawing closer.
Hope to see you soon,
Paula & Ann
Partners in Crime
What We're Reading
>James Hayman (Paula)
I've got a new favorite Maine author, James Hayman, the New York advertising executive-turned-crime writer. Advertising's loss is definitely mystery fans' gain.
In his first book, The Cutting (2009), he introduced Michael McCabe, a Portland police detective who left NYC for Maine--partly to get away from his own troubled past and partly seeking a less violent place to raise his teenage daughter. It doesn't take long to find that horrific crime knows no geographic bounds.
In The Chill of the Night (2010), McCabe discovers that the only way to capture the killer of a woman found dead at the Portland Fish Pier is through a possible witness--a young mentally ill woman who is trying, without success, to tell police what she saw. Unless McCabe succeeds in understanding her, she may very likely be the next victim.
It was Hayman's
most recent book, Darkness First
(2013), that elevated me from a mere "fan" to "big fan." In what may be his best book yet, this one moves from Portland to Down East and gives the main storyline to McCabe's detective partner Maggie Savage, who returns to her Washington County hometown to help solve a murder and the attempted murder of her best friend.
When Maggie finds her "help" is deeply resented by some investigators, she calls in reinforcements (McCabe). Hayman has made Maggie an integral character from the beginning, but here McCabe's equally tough, straight-talking partner gets her due, and shows why this detective duo is a formidable pair.
Hayman's superb depiction of place--both Portland and Down East--and his strong character development for the good guys and the bad have me eagerly awaiting his next book.
>Patricia Moyes (Paula)
In anticipation of attending a local book group, we both recently re-read Patricia Moyes' Murder Fantastical (1967).
By the time I was three pages in, it all came rushing back at me--why the late Patricia Moyes is one of my all-time favorite writers of the classic British mystery.
For many Moyes' fans, including me, Murder Fantastical deserves its place at or near the top of all her books, 19 featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Henry Tibbett. My return visit with the wildly eccentric (but very endearing) Manciple family had me laughing out loud.
Readers with an appreciation of the classic British mystery--at its very best--should put Moyes on their "must read" list.
As an aside, I might confess that Patricia Moyes was the very first mystery writer we ever met. It was in the early 1980s at New York City's (and the world's) first mystery bookstore, Murder Ink. She was the most charming of women.
>Ruth Dudley Edwards (Ann)
Not particularly appreciated (nor even well known or easy to find) in this country, Edwards' books are a pleasure. In her dozen mysteries, she manages to take to task virtually every British establishment and then some. And therein may lie the problem for readers in this country. The better you know Britain, the funnier the books.
In describing her style, Edwards says, "I feature rude language at times and there are those who think my jokes (especially those--and they are many--directed at political correctness) can be tasteless, but nothing I write will give anyone nightmares. And, what's more, though sex comes into my books, it happens off the page."
When she began her crime-writing career--after graduate study in ecclesiastical relations at Cambridge and a lengthy career as a civil servant--she says she intended to write traditional mysteries but couldn't stop drifting into farce and pointed jokes. "What has happened unintentionally is that my novels have turned into (affectionate) satire on the British establishment."
After all, she points out, there is no end of great material from which to glean her stories. To date, she's managed to target, among others, the House of Lords, Church of England, academia, private "gentlemen's" clubs,
publishing, and civil service. For American readers who like reading "closer to home," she's obliged with Murdering Americans, set on an Indiana college campus.
Whatever your personal prejudices--we all have our own--there's at least one or two Edwards' books that fit the bill. Among my personal favorites: Publish and Be Murdered (publishing), Matricide at St. Martha's (academia), Clubbed to Death (private men's clubs), and Carnage on the Committee (literary prizes).
Political correctness be damned!!!!
Aside: When not skewering all in her wake, sometimes through the comments of Baroness "Jack" Troutbeck--described as an "insensitive and tactless human battering ram"--but always through Robert Amiss, a young (in the beginning) civil servant who is often Troutbeck's long-suffering foil, Edwards is a highly respected non-fiction writer, biographer, journalist, and academic. But I ask you: which of Ruth Dudley Edwards' personas do you think has more fun?
>Ridley Pearson (Ann)
While Ridley Pearson's Lou Boldt/Daphne Matthews and Walt Fleming series (both set in the West) are just fine, I'm all over his new series featuring forensic accountant Grace Chu, a Chinese citizen, and John Knox, American Iraqi war vet and importer/exporter.
Working together as freelancers for a risk management company, i.e., a company that solves problems for big companies when the cops shouldn't be involved, they are out on their own, completely expendable if caught by the wrong people.
It's a first-rate action-adventure series. The first book took them to Shanghai (bribes and kidnapping), the second to Amsterdam (sweatshops using child labor), and the third to Istanbul (for a mission that's so murky they don't know who their target is).
The heroine and hero are interesting--and the action is nonstop. Just the thing to read when you've finished the new Lee Child, Raymond Khoury, or Paul Christopher.
Our Traveling Book Bag
Helen Kitzman of Madison, Connecticut--customer and frequent contributor of book reviews--took time out from traveling the Great River Road, from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to New Orleans, to check out an iconic landmark: the "Mary Richards" (Mary Tyler Moore) statue in downtown Minneapolis. The route, which goes through 10 states, is providing Helen plenty of time for her two favorite pursuits: sightseeing and mystery reading--hence, the Mainely Murders book bag. (Thanks to husband Dick for the photo.)
Check out this sampling of October releases. For a more complete list visit
www.stopyourekillingme.com. And, please remember, you can order any new release directly from Mainely Murders.
The Nightingale Before Christmas, Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #18)
Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, Stephanie Barron (Jane Austin #12)
The Wolf in Winter, John Connolly (Charlie Parker #12)
Havana Storm, Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler (Dirk Pitt #23)
Malice, Keigo Higashino (Kyochiro Kaga #4)
Demon Summer, G.M. Malliet (Max Tudor #4)
The Skeleton Road, Val McDermid (Karen Pirie #2)
Cobra, Deon Meyer (Benny Griessel #4)
Final Sentence, Stuart Neville (Jack Lennon #4)
Truth Be Told, Hank Phillippi Ryan (Jane Ryland & Jake Brogan #3)
Deadline, John Sandford (Virgil Flowers #8) Paris Match, Stuart Woods (Stone Barrington #31)
Our favorite anonymous customer/reviewer returns this month. FYI: We know who she is, but will honor her request for anonymity.
Mainers (and enthusiastic visitors) have a myriad of choices among books with a Maine setting in recent releases.
For those who love a holiday cozy, Lea Wait's
Shadows on a Maine Christmas is set in the fictional seaside town of Waymouth. (Is it Yarmouth? Is it Wiscasset? Is it a hybrid?) An antique print dealer/college professor leaves her home in New Jersey to visit Waymouth and her beau, an antique dealer looking after his 92-year-old Aunt Nettie. The death of a nurse who was apparently trying to blackmail Nettie and her friends upsets the usual progress of Christmas cookies and caroling. Although the details of real-life places add atmosphere, they tend to distract from the secrets of the past that come to light.
Jon Keller's Of Sea and Cloud presents a much different--and more believable--picture of the wintry coast of Maine, this time near the Bay of Fundy and in sight of the blueberry commons. When two men have a fight over the future of their lobstering business, one falls overboard and the other leaves him to drown. Keller builds suspense slowly but inexorably--not so much about the victim's death as about what happens when his fiercely independent sons find out what happened and feud with the man who let their father die.
D.A. Keeley also eschews picture-postcard prettiness in Bitter Crossing, when a U.S. border agent comes back to her hometown in Aroostook County. While poised to make a drug bust on the border, the agent discovers a sack that, to her astonishment, contains a baby. As a single mother, she's glad to save the infant, who later disappears in a series of unexpected events--including murder. Despite a few lapses in style and continuity, Keeley writes convincingly about the rugged people in an overlooked part of the state.
A denouement in Maine is a feature of Resistant in which Michael Palmer writes about a recovering drug addict and alcoholic and part-time ER doctor who tries to save a friend stricken with a deadly virus. This medical thriller starts out in Washington, D.C., and takes the doctor to the woods of Georgia before he confronts his adversaries in a rocky fortress somewhere along Maine's coast. Although the plot is sometimes far-fetched, you have to cheer on the hero in his fight to save a friend who once helped save him.
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.