In honor of Agatha's Christie's birthday (September 15), the Mystery Quiz this month asks you to unscramble the titles of three of her mysteries:
Siemcn Roanuadnu D Er
Ev Ardehuca Tet Garerm Tih
Sl Dromu Etn Ernkih
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 Cheryl Raffauf of Philadelphia who identified author Deborah Crombie as the
contemporary American (Texan, even!) writer whose bestselling Scotland Yard police procedurals follow the professional and personal lives of two Met officers.
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.
Peter Lovesey, born in Whitton, Middlesex, on September 10, 1936, is best known for his series featuring Richard Cribb and Edward Thackeray, policemen in Victorian London; Albert Edward (Bertie), Prince of Wales; Peter Diamond, a homicide detective in Bath, England; and Henrietta "Hen" Mallin, a police inspector in West Sussex, England.
Agatha Christie, born September 15, 1890, in Devonshire, went on to define the British puzzle mysteries of the Golden Age, and created two of the most famous characters in detective fiction, Miss Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot. Designated a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1955, she died in 1976.
Robert B. Parker, best known for his creation of Spenser, was born September 17, 1932. His two other leading characters, Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall, both appeared in long series. A Grand Master designee in 2002, he died in 2010. His Spenser and Jesse Stone stories have been continued by Ace Atkins and Michael Brandman, respectively.
Barbara Mertz, born September 29, 1927, in Canton, Illinois, was best known under her two pseudonyms, Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters. She was named a Grand Master in 1998, and died in 2013.
Michael Innes (John Innes Mackintosh Stewart) was born September 30, 1906. Best known for his Oxford scholar/Scotland Yard detective John Appleby, he died in 1994.
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.
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 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.
It's September, leading to thoughts of back-to-
NOW ON SALE
school (notebooks, crayons, and No. 2 pencils). For others, like us, it's academic mysteries. Imagine our delight when customer Helen Kitzman of Madison, Connecticut, sent along reviews of her favorites. (See Customers Recommend.)
Having said goodbye (until next year) to some of our summer visitors, we're welcoming back others who make Maine (and Mainely Murders) a fall destination.
Now's a good time to remind visiting customers, whatever time of the year we see them, we're delighted to take orders and ship books wherever they live. Last week we were happily shipping copies of the just-released book by Louise Penny, our No. 1 best-selling author last year.
In the meantime, we're eagerly awaiting a beautiful and busy fall.
Hope to see you soon,
Paula & Ann
Partners in Crime
Summer Reading Group
Concludes With a Bang
Our Summer Reading Group concludes Saturday, September 27, at 3:30 p.m. with discussion of John Connolly's Dark Hollow.
Of the four mystery writers and series we selected for this inaugural effort--Connolly, Lea Wait, Gerry Boyle, and Sarah Graves--the Irishman and his Charlie Parker books are by far the darkest.
Indeed, that fact led us to include him among the authors, each with a long-running series set in Maine, we selected. The books have run the gamut--from the very cozy Graves to the often noirish Connolly--thus covering the full range of Maine crime writers.
Stock Up for Winter Reading
It's not too early to think about those long, dark days of winter--and what you'll have on-hand to read.
While sunny, dry days remain, our Sunshine Hardback Sale continues outside the shop. Former bestsellers by James Patterson, David Baldacci, Elizabeth George, Martha Grimes, John Sandford, Sue Grafton, Clive Cussler, Patricia Cornwell, Daniel Silva, and Robert Ludlum are among the specially-priced books--each for $3 or 4 for $10.
September's Sunshine Hardback Sale has been elevated a notch with the addition of dozens of international authors and titles--from British to Scandinavian. These more expensive books are priced at $5 each.
Additions to the shelves are made every day as long as the sun shines.
Remembering Jeremiah Healy
It's with sadness we report the August 14 death of writer Jeremiah Healy.
Starting with Blunt Darts (1984), Healy authored more than a dozen titles featuring Boston PI John Francis Cuddy. Often compared to the late Robert B. Parker, Healy's Cuddy books were nominated for the Shamus Award for the best PI title seven times, winning the award in 1986 for The Staked Goat. In addition to writing scores of short stories, Healy produced three other mystery novels under the pseudonym Terry Devane.
Healy, 66 at the time of his death, is survived by his fiancée, fellow-writer Sandra Balzo.
What We're Reading
>Suzanne Arruda (Paula)
As I often point out, I'm no nature girl. I'll take a comfortable bed in a nicely restored villa over a sleeping bag in a tent anytime. But, I've been thoroughly engrossed lately with Suzanne Arruda's series featuring Jade de Cameron, an American adventurer in post-WWI colonial East Africa.
Perhaps it all goes back to my childhood and two of my favorite television shows: Tarzan and Sky King. I was captivated by Tarzan (Jane, not so much) and could picture myself living in a tree house and swinging from vine to vine. Then, there was the Texas rancher/good guy Sky King. I didn't care about him, but his teenage niece Penny had her very own airplane. I could just see myself at the controls.
Fast forward . . . Arruda's Jade de Cameron doesn't swing through the jungle on vines, but she does have a pet cheetah. (Tarzan only had a chimp!) And, she can pilot a plane.
The books in the series (Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, The Serpent's Daughter, The Leopard's Prey, Treasure of the Golden Cheetah, The Crocodile's Last Embrace) are equal parts mystery, history, and travelogue--with a little romance.
>Coffee? Tea? (Paula)
Today's outpouring of themed cozies (cooking, crafting, etc.) draws plenty of readers. They aren't everyone's cup of tea (or coffee), but I am a fan of two series that serve up crime one cup at a time.
My favorite is Cleo Coyle's coffeehouse mysteries, set in New York City's Greenwich Village, where, it would seem, crime is always brewing. I can smell it--the coffee, not the crime--the moment I open the door (er, I mean book).
From the beginning, On What Grounds (2003), I've been a regular at Village Blend and think of manager Claire Cosi and her quirky family and staff, as friends--perhaps friends who have had too much caffeine--but friends nevertheless. If only they'd set up shop in my neighborhood.
Author Cleo Coyle, actually the pseudonym of wife/husband team Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini, has produced 13 coffeehouse murders to date. And, yes, I've read every one. (Through the Grinder, Latte Trouble, Murder Most Frothy, Decaffeinated Corpse, French Pressed, Espresso Shot, Holiday Grind, Roast Mortem, Murder By Mocha, A Brew to Kill, Holiday Buzz, and Millionaire Blend.)
When coffee and New York City are too strong, I turn to the more genteel (or not) way of murder: Laura Childs' tea shop mysteries.
At Theodosia Browning's Indigo Teahouse in historic Charleston, South Carolina, murder comes in all kinds of blends--starting with Death By Darjeeling. (Like Coyle's coffeehouse mysteries, Childs' titles always elicit a smile.)
Don't confuse Indigo Teahouse with some imaginary oasis of calm. Trouble is always brewing in this 15-book series (Death by Darjeeling, Gunpowder Green, Shades of Earl Grey, English Breakfast Murder, The Jasmine Moon Murder, Chamomile Mourning, Blood Orange Brewing, Dragonwell Dead, The Silver Needle Murder, Oolong Dead, The Teaberry Strangler, Scones and Bones, Agony of the Leaves, Sweet Tea Revenge, Steeped in Evil).
>Elizabeth Lemarchand (Ann)
Elizabeth Lemarchand (1906-2000) was a writing contemporary of Patricia Moyes. Though her 17 books featuring Scotland Yard detectives Tom Pollard and Gregory Toye were fairly popular in the late sixties, seventies, and eighties, they haven't had the staying power of those by Moyes.
Yet the books are certainly decent and well-written. (Lemarchand was a university graduate when very few women were.) They are also perfect examples of the cottage industry of English cozies Colin Watson so loathed in his book Snobbery with Violence. In her mythical shires and villages, crime is rare, the laboring classes a bit backward but respective of their betters, and the upper reaches caring for the lesser orders. In short, a world that never was.
Humor is mostly lacking, which may be understandable. Lemarchand was a headmistress until forced to retire because of ill health, further cause not to be very humorous.
Yet the books she wrote upon her retirement are a pleasant read. And they take readers away from worldly cares. That's not an inconsiderable achievement. Lemarchand does not deserve to be forgotten.
>Roger Hobbs (Ann)
I almost never read first books until the second is out. I like staying power. What if I like the book and no more come? Just can't stand the disappointment.
But the concept of Ghostman was so good: a man who can change his appearance by slight adjustments to demeanor and walk as if he were an actor, hence the name. He's sent by a very bad man (to whom he owes a debt) to find the proceeds of a casino robbery gone badly wrong. Adding to the tension is a major time constraint.
The book lived up to my hopes and earned its finalist positions for major awards (for those of us who like that). It's a turbo-charged action-adventure, and best of all, another is scheduled for next year. I'm all over it.
Check out the following sampling of upcoming September releases. For a more complete list, check out www.stopyourekillingme.com. And, please remember, you can order any new release directly from Mainely Murders.
Kathy Reichs, Bones Never Lie (Temperance Brennan #17)
For the academics, former-academics, and fans of academic mysteries among us, fall can mean many things--including an arrow through the heart of the dastardly dean, the football coach battered to death with the sportsmanship trophy, or . . .
Helen Kitzman of Madison, Connecticut--yep, she's one of us--definitely has murder on her mind.
Not many academics write excellent murder mysteries. Carolyn Heilbrun, writing under the pen name of Amanda Cross, was the exception. Living in the 1960s through the 1990s, her alter-ego, Kate Fansler, a university English professor in New York City (read: Columbia University), is a feminist caught up in the web of a male-dominated world of academic intrigue that always includes murder. While solving the murder with her wits (no down-and-dirty walking the streets for our Kate), she shows newly minted academics (inside and outside the pages of her books) how to keep one step ahead of the not-so-figurative knives that lurk just outside the doors of dusty classrooms. Her hardworking DA husband is useful in providing martinis at the right moment, but not really attuned to her world and the crafty professors and graduate students that live there. Death in a Tenured Position, one of her best, is a good starting point for her novels, which need not be read in any order.
One of my favorite mystery writers, Jane Langton, writes, and illustrates with charming sketches, mysteries that involve Homer Kelly, a lawyer, former police detective, and later Harvard professor, in the lives of deceptively simple folk in and around Boston. Beginning with
The Transcendental Murder and continuing through one of her best,
Emily Dickinson Is Dead, Langton takes you on a tour of small towns and byways in Massachusetts as Homer and his wife find the answers to a few mysteries of life as well as a murder or two. The staunch, upright characters that pass through the pages are caught in the all too familiar perils of circumstance, but Homer extricates them with little fuss, a good bit of humor, and just a touch of romantic matchmaking. As with so many classic mystery writers,
Langton shows that excellent writing need not require a complex plot to be enjoyable. And if we learn a bit more about early American literary giants, that makes her novels even better.
In talking about mysteries relating to academics, of course, one must read the wonderful novels of Dorothy Sayers, particularly those in which Harriet Vane holds her own with amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. Gaudy Night (1935) brings together wonderful characters and a complex plot at Shrewsbury College, Oxford University. The academic atmosphere, appropriately smoky, masks many sins that Harriet faces and overcomes on her own as Lord Peter does not appear until relatively late in the story. Strong Poison (1930) which begins this series' tale of love is really Lord Peter's moment in which he overwhelms Harriet with wit, intellect, literary prowess, and his manservant Bunter.
Upon the request of the Sayers estate, Jill Paton Walsh has taken up the tales of Lord Peter and Harriet, now the Duke and Duchess of Denver, and her most recent mystery, The Late Scholar, takes the duo back to Oxford to solve a string of murders. It is 1953, the Wimsey sons are ready for college, and Lord Peter is called as Visitor to restore order at St. Severin's College. Balliol it is not, but the digs are book-laden and the dispute between the Fellows is deadly. And Harriet comes to lecture on mysteries as literature--what could be more contemporary? Try them all.
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.