1 Bourne Street, Kennebunk, ME 04043
(207) 985-8706

February 2020
In This Issue
Newsletter Archives
Previous issues can be
 viewed on our 

Mystery Quiz

Writers and readers alike are big fans of holiday-themed mysteries--from the cozy to the noir. Name three Valentine's Day titles and their authors.

Send your answer to (subject line: quiz). A prizewinner (a $25 gift card) will be randomly drawn from correct submissions.

Congratulations to Kit Salisbury of Providence, Rhode Island, who identified British pubs as  the basis of the titles  of the novels by Martha Grimes. Kit's name, drawn randomly, was one of the many correct entries.


Happy Birthdays

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 gems.  

British writer Colin Watson  was born February 1, 1920, in Croydon, Surrey. Although not much read anymore--except by Ann and a few others--he is best known for his novels set in the town of Flaxborough, placid on the surface, seething with crime underneath. In 1971, his sociological history of British crime fiction, which he described as a cottage industry populated by gentile women, Snobbery with Violence, was published. He died in 1983.
Henning Mankell, who was born in Stockholm on February 3, 1948, and died in Göteborg in 2015, helped make  Scandinavian mysteries popular worldwide through his books about Inspector Wallander. He had already written many books by the time the first, Faceless Killers, came out in 1991 (1998 in English). Eventually 10 more followed. Swedish and English TV series were filmed. 
John Grisham, born in  Jonesboro, Arkansas, on February 8, 1955, is one of many U.S. lawyers who turned to crime writing--and the most successful. (Indeed, he is one of only three authors to have a first printing of 2 million copies.) Since his first book, 
A Time to Kill, derived from testimony he overheard in a small-town Mississippi courtroom, he has written one book a year--fortunately, because it was his second book, The Firm, that made him famous. Nearly half his mysteries have been made into movies. 
Janwillem van de Wetering, Janwillem van de Wetering
best known for his Amsterdam police procedurals, was born February 12, 1931, in Rotterdam. Two of the books--
The Maine Massacre and Just a Corpse at Twilight--were set in Maine, where he spent much of his life. He died in 2008 in Blue Hill.
We may think of him as  French, but Georges
Simenoncreator of one of the all-time best detectives, Inspector Jules Maigret, was born February 13, 1903, in Liege, Belgium. Named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1966, he died in 1989.
Ruth Rendell, aka Barbara 
Vine, was born February 17, 1930, in London. Although she wrote numerous psychological standalones, her most enduring books were about Reginald Wexford, a chief inspector in Sussex. She was designated a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1977. She died in 2015.

Reveal Your
Mysterious Side
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
Thank you!
Thank you for supporting
Mainely Murders and other small independent booksellers. At a time when you have other choicesyou'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. 

We're in Paris now, having arrived two weeks ago
First stop this winter, Glasgow bookstores. Ann headed directly for Scottish Crime.
after spending a few days in another regular stop: Glasgow, Scotland. It's part of our sojourn that we'll continue in late March when we return there for the reminder of our break.
Glasgow is our favorite Scottish city and not just because it's the home to so many of our favorite writers and/or their detectives: Denise Mina, Caro Ramsay, Craig Robertson, Karen Campbell, Craig Russell, and the list goes on.
A perk of our British travels is access to the crime writers that don't make it to the U.S. in great numbers. Yes, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, and Alexander McCall Smith have large American followings, but this is a country where mystery writers reign supreme; meaning that there are plenty more from which to choose.
Likewise, now that we're on this side of the English Channel (called la Manche in France), still more European writers, not just French, become accessible. We're hoping to make numerous discoveries.
In the meantime, we'll keep in touch. We hope you will, too.
Au revoir,
Paula & Ann
Partners in Crime (and Travel)

New This Month

Goodbye Lee Child; Not So Jack Reacher
When some authors grow tired of a character--even
Lee Child
Lee Child
an incredibly popular one--they simply kill him off. Apparently, Lee Child just couldn't pull the trigger on Jack Reacher.

It wasn't that he didn't try. He says he's long been looking for a way. But, in the end, he's opted to simply step away, while keeping the further adventures of the ex-military-cop-turned-vigilante hero in the family. Younger brother and fellow author Andrew Grant
will continue the series, under the pen name Andrew Child.
Like his brother, Andrew Grant has lived in the U.S. for many years so he's already familiar with Reacher's territory. In fact, Grant's most recent series takes place in the South. He's published eight books, mostly action-adventure, since 2009.
Andrew Grant
Still, the younger brother (he's 51) will have some big shoes to fill. Since publishing his first Reacher book, The Killing Floor (1997), Lee Child (real name James Grant) has sold more that 100 million copies and been translated into 40 languages.
The next Reacher title, The Sentinel, to be released in October, is already a joint effort. And Lee Child says he will continue to collaborate for the next few books.
Now it's up to his millions of readers, who, for the first time, will see another name alongside Lee Child. But, he says, they come from the same DNA.
Remembering M.C. Beaton
It's with great sadness that we acknowledge the death of M.C. Beaton, the creator of two of mystery writing's most popular characters, Hamish MacBeth and Agatha Raison. She died December 30 at the age of 83.
Beaton, a pseudonym for Marion Chesney, was often called the queen of contemporary British cozies, selling more than 20 million copies of her books throughout the world, in addition to regularly being recognized as Britain's libraries "most borrowed" adult author.

The Glasgow native began her career as a journalist, before turning to Regency romances, writing some 100 before moving on to mysteries under the M.C. Beaton pseudonym. But she never outgrew Glasgow's tradition of earthy humor.

Scotsman Hamish Macbeth, who starred in 34 titles, was a quick-witted but totally unambitious village policeman in the Highlands. The first book in the series, Death of a Gossip, was published in 1985. This month, Death of a Love, the latest, is released.

Agatha Raisin, a former London advertising/PR executive who retired to a village in the Cotswolds, first appeared in 1992 in Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, followed by 29 other titles.

Both Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin novels were adopted for television, delighting fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

Preparation Is All
Airport news agents are a godsend for travelers who've forgotten their books, been caught up in what seem like ever-more frequent delays, or who are trying to figure out how they'll make 27 pages of the latest James Patterson novel last for the next leg of their flight.
But they're maybe not the best for much beyond the latest bestsellers. Just ask customer Jeanette DeBlois of Sanford who had two coveted books packed for Hawaii in her Mainely Murders book bag more than a month before departure--so she would not "accidentally" read them before the trip.
We travel with books that we can't wait to open once we're aboard the aircraft and our seat belts fastened. Of course, we do spend as much time selecting our reading material as we do packing our bags. Maybe more come to think of it. After all, how hard is it to buy underwear?

More about Martha Grimes 
While we've long been readers of Martha Grimes
--the American author often thought to be British because of her longtime series featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Richard Jury and his aristocratic sidekick Melrose Plant--we were truly overwhelmed with the level of response to last month's quiz. (Readers were asked to identify the basis for many of Grimes' titles.)
Clearly many of our customers are fans of Grimes' police procedurals or they're just very familiar with English pubs--the names of which the author uses in her book titles. (Actually, one title came from the name of an American bar.)
Grimes' novels--beginning with The Man With a Load of Mischief in 1981--are a delightful combination of the police procedural (think cops in pursuit of cold-blooded killers) and the cozy (think the eccentric inhabitants of tiny British villages).
The pub names often take center stage. And, obviously many mystery fans recognize her long-standing references.
Although Grimes lived in England briefly, she admits that her chief source of research for her books comes from the frequent (usually a couple each year) trips she makes there. Indeed, part of that research, she has said, involves discovering the pubs she uses in the title (and within the pages) of her novels.
Not a bad "job," huh? In truth, however, the writer says she doesn't spend long inside the pubs. A recovering alcoholic, who has written about her own battle with alcoholism, she says allowing her characters to indulge is simply "vicarious enjoyment" on her part. 

The Makings of a Bestseller
Customers generally think of us, and rightly so, in terms of murder mysteries. But late last year, this story "ripped from the headlines" got our attention. It's one, we think, has all the makings of a great book.
It was a Boston lobster heist, in which a man hijacked a lobster truck filled with some $10,000 worth of tasty crustaceans being readied for shipment abroad. In Boston, as in other New England locales, lobsters are sacred and stealing them just isn't allowed.
So, when employees of the company packing the lobsters saw the thief take off, they jumped in another track and gave chase through the historic Charlestown neighborhood.
The pursuit didn't last long. (As all who have seen Boston traffic can imagine.) The suspected thief deliberately crashed the stolen truck into that driven by his pursuers, who then detained him until police arrived.
According to a company spokesman, no lobsters were hurt in the incident, and shipment overseas proceeded on time.
With a few creative embellishments--a high-speed chase? hostage lobsters? a gun battle?--we can envision a true New England bestseller. Stay tuned.

What We've Been Reading

Scottish Island Noir (A)

My goal during our stays in Glasgow is to dig more deeply into current Scottish noir. Many of the more recent authors simply haven't made it to the U.S. My problem is that until we return in late March, I didn't want to drag many books around in my suitcase.

Allan Martin's The Peat Dead was my choice for the trip to Paris on the Caledonian Sleeper and the Eurostar. It was definitely noir--five bodies without identification buried in a peat grave. With an interesting setting--Islay, known mostly for its whisky breweries, which in turn are known for their very peaty flavor. And good writing.

Inspector Angus Blue, based in Oban, is the man sent to deal with the bodies since normally the 3,200 people who live on the island don't need much policing. With the aid of forensic archaeologist Dr. Alison Hendrickx, all seems to be going well despite the almost total lack of evidence about why each man had a bullet through his head.

Then the bodies are stolen and violence erupts.
Wonderful descriptions of Islay, the fifth largest island in Scotland, and a tourist destination, particularly for birdwatchers, and an exciting if bloody story.

This year The Dead of Jura comes out. I'm looking forward to it.
Bloody Scotland (P)
As soon as we landed in Glasgow for our all-to-brief visit last month, I reached for a title that married two of what I love most about Scotland: its incredible cadre of crime writers and its natural and manmade architectural treasures.
Bloody Scotland is a collection of works by 12 of the country's most well-known mystery writers, each providing a sinister side of famous (or not-so-famous) historic sites.
While misty (and creepy) moors and dark (and equally creepy) urban alleyways are here, the authors have managed as well to depict crime in villages, remote islands, and celebrated castles.

As would be expected in a volume designed to promote Historic Environment Scotland, the heritage group that cares for more than 300 historic properties, Scotland's most celebrated of writers--including Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Stuart McBride, and Craig Robertson--are among its contributors.

My favorite piece among the uniformly wonderful stories is the final one, "The Return" by Ann Cleeves, featuring deception and deceit on the Shetland Islands.

Each year we have customers in search of mysteries set in their next vacation site. For those with Scotland on their lists, Bloody Scotland provides a veritable road map of incredible sites.

Coming Soon

Ben Aaronovitch, False Value [River of London #7]
Jean-Luc Bannalec, The Killing Tide [Georges Dupin #5]
M.C. Beaton, Death of a Love [Hamish Macbeth #34]
Allison Brennan, The Third to Die [NS]
Massimo Carlotto, Blues for Outlaw Hearts and Old Whores [Alligator Buratti #9]
Paul Doherty, Dark Queen Waiting [First US, Margaret Beaufort #2]
Harry Dolan, The Good Killer [NS]
Charles Finch, The Last Passenger [Charles Lenox prequel #3]
Elly Griffiths, The Lantern Men [Ruth Galloway #12]
James Grippando, The Big Lie [Jack Swyteck #16]
Sophie Hannah, Perfect Little Children [NS]
Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, Last Girl Standing [NS]
Jonathan Kellerman, The Museum of Desire [Alex Delaware #35]
Susan Elia MacNeal, The King's Justice [Maggie Hope #9]
Walter Mosley, Trouble Is What I Do [Leonid McGill #6]
Joyce Carol Oates, Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars {NS}
*Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Crooked River [Pendergast #19]
Ysra Sigurdardottir, The Absolution [Children's House #3]
John Straley, What Is Time to a Pig [Cold Storage #3]
Charles Todd, A Divided Loyalty [Ian Rutledge #22]
Randy Wayne White, Salt River [Doc Ford #26]


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.   


Mainely Murders Bookstore, 1 Bourne Street, Kennebunk, ME 04043
Sent by in collaboration with
Constant Contact
Try email marketing for free today!