Holiday-themed titles are forever popular among mystery authors and readers alike. Author Leslie Meier celebrates virtually every holiday in fictional Tinkers Cove, Maine, in her long-running Lucy Stone series. Name another writer known for his or her lineup of holiday whodunits.
Send your answer to email@example.com
(subject line: quiz). A prizewinner (a $25 gift card) will be randomly drawn from correct submissions.
Congratulations to Ruth Van Ledtje of Wolfboro, New Hampshire, who identified Raymond Chandler's Poodle Springs, featuring Philip Marlow, as the book completed by Robert B. Parker after Chandler's death.
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.
Helen MacInnes, the Scottish
writer of numerous romantic
espionage novels, was born
October 7, 1907, in Glasgow. Her books were written after moving to the U.S. in 1937. She died in New York City in 1985.
, born in New
Orleans on October 11, 1925, spent most of his life in Detroit, where he died in 2013. First known for westerns, he wrote 17 mystery and suspense novels and stories noted for their realism and dialogue. Many were made into movies. In 1993 he was designated a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America (MWA).
was born October 15, 1926. If the name isn't familiar, you might think of one of his several pseudonyms, Ed McBain
(87th Precinct books), the name under which he achieved his greatest fame. Awarded the Grand Master award by the MWA in 1987, he died in 2005.
John Le Carré
Moore Cornwell), born October 19, 1931, was a British intelligence officer before he became a premier spy novelist. His most famous protagonist was George Smiley, who has appeared in seven books. He has received both the Crime Writers Association Diamond Dagger (1988) and the MWA Grand Master Award (1984).
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.
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Can't deny it any longer: summer is over. It's not just the weather, the changing colors, or the school buses driving past the shop. We've bid farewell to many "temporary Mainers" and greeted the arrival of those who, like us, enjoy the glory of fall days.
In the month ahead, we start to see the first of holiday releases--yes, Ho-Ho Homicide--and customers who say they're already building up their cache of wintertime reading. But before then, of course, there's Halloween (far more popular for crime than Thanksgiving).
October also signals our fall hiatus--a time we take off for recharging ourselves and replenishing our stock--and its temporary closing. This year, it's October 30. We'll re-open November 20, at which time we'll resume our Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. schedule through December 28.
Until then, we'll be here. Ann, munching her way through a bag of candy corn; Paula, reading Halloween whodunits.
We hope to see you soon. In the meantime, Happy Reading.
Ann and Paula
Partners in Crime
P.S. For those of you who like to know our whereabouts when we travel--whether on a brief book-buying trip or our winter sojourn abroad--first up on our October/November getaway is Arkansas, where we first started talking about a mystery bookstore more than 40 years ago.
Holidays are a popular theme for mystery writers, and October is no exception. Ghosts and witches, real and imagined, are popular in both the U.S. and Europe.
This year there's even more Halloween in Maine. Well, the imaginary Maine of Tinkers Cove, Busman's Harbor, and Bar Harbor with the release of Haunted House Murder, a holiday collection by Leslie Meier, Barb Ross, and Lee Hollis.
After previously taking on Christmas--Eggnog Murder and Yule Log Murder--this writing trio has its respective villagers keeping the Halloween spirit alive in Maine.
But they aren't the only ones who enjoy a good October tale. Some, like Agatha Christie's Hallowe'en Party (with Hercule Poirot), are classics. But, most are modern-day mysteries with titles any true cozy lover will appreciate.
Some favorites: Witches' Bane, Trick or Treachery, Town in a Pumpkin Bash, The Ghost of Halloween Past, Candy Corn Murders, Strange Brew, All Hallow's Evil, and Trick or Deceit.
Special October Sale
Cooler fall weather calls for steaming mugs of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate; hearty, warming soups; and mulled cider. What better way to enjoy them than with a Three Pines café-au-lait mug. It holds 12 ounces and is microwavable and dishwasher safe. Available in "Vive Gamache!" and "I'm F.I.N.E." (from Ruth's poetry).
Regularly $25 each, throughout October, buy three and receive the fourth free.* Purchase a set for yourself or surprise your favorite Louise Penny fans with this special gift. (The holidays are just around the corner.)
*Available only on in-store sales. We cannot ship.
For fans of the lighter side of murder, October is still a great time to "cozy up" with favorite characters.
So, for as long as the glorious fall weather
continues, our ever-changing inventory of cozies will be on display in our outdoor Garden Plot under the canopy. Whether you're preparing for fall's cooler evenings in front of the fire or, down the road, the long winter ahead, you'll find plenty from which to choose.
Want to start a new series? We've got many "firsts." Or maybe you're in need of some missing titles? We've got hundreds.
At Mainely Murders we like to say that all our crime is fiction--whether you call them mysteries, thrillers, or whodunits. But, the recent interest in true crime--as evidenced in the proliferation of television shows, podcasts, as well as books--has not escaped our customers. Thus the small section (our choice) we now reserve for non-fiction crime.
But when it comes to real-life crime fighting, Maine has its very own queen of true crime in writer Kate Flora, who also happens to be the award-winning mystery writer.
Her first, and most well-known, Finding Amy: A True Story of a Maine Murder (2006), was written with Joe Loughlin, the lead investigator in one of the most shocking murders in Maine history, that of 25-year-old Amy St. Laurent.
Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice (2014) is the story of the committed investigators from Maine and Canada and their cooperation in the relentless pursuit of a brutal murderer.
A Good Man With a Dog: A Game Warden's 25 Years in the Maine Woods (2016), written with Roger Guay, is a warden's gripping account of his career protecting wildlife, and people, from the back woods of Maine to the swamps of Louisiana.
In each, Flora tells the true story of law enforcement officers, sworn to protect and serve, whom she obviously admires.
Tracking Down J.S. Borthwick
For years, customers have asked us about J.S. Borthwick, the Maine writer of some 13 mysteries featuring English professor/amateur sleuth Sarah Deane and physician friend (later husband) Alex McKenzie.
A native New Englander, she often summered in Maine and moved here permanently in 1976. Although she pursued interests in acting, art, and always teaching, she found her true, and most enduring, calling in mystery writing.
Following publication of her first title, The Case of the Hook-Billed Kites in 1982, Borthwick (a pseudonym for Jean Scott Wood Creighton) penned a dozen more books in the series, concluding with Foiled Again in 2007.
Much to our dismay of never having met her, she died on September 24, 2018, only two days before her 95th birthday. Still, her books remain popular among fans of Maine-set and academic mysteries. While out of print, most of Borthwick's titles are readily available, though increasingly not in libraries.
When not in the shop, we spend lots of time out on the road in search of books. Then, sometimes, they show up at our front door.
That happened recently when Heather Araskiewicz of Dracut, Massachusetts, contacted us seeking "good homes" for the dozens of cozies she'd amassed. "I wanted someone else to enjoy them like I did. Then I heard about you."
Heather (left)--pictured with friend Janice LeBrun of Haverhill, Massachusetts--not only donated the books, but delivered them last month. "I'll probably be back with more," she said, waving goodbye.
A new book by a favorite author is always much anticipated by booksellers and readers alike.
That was the case in August with the release
of Louise Penny's A Better Man
, the 15th in her beloved Armand Gamache series. Fans of Three Pines and its inhabitants arrived throughout release day to purchase the perennial bestseller.
A Better Man opens with catastrophic spring flooding, blistering media attacks, and a mysterious disappearance greeting Chief Inspector Gamache as he returns to the Sûreté du Québec as head of the homicide department, a job he temporarily shares with his previous second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir.
Pictured here are a few of the many customers among the first to get the latest Gamache title, described by New York Times book reviewer Marilyn Stasio as "Enchanting . . . one of his most ennobling missions."
Another, Wall Street Journal reviewer Tom Nolan, wrote, "A Better Man, with its mix of meteorological suspense, psychological insight, and criminal pursuit, is arguably the best book yet in an outstanding, original oeuvre."
All earlier titles, starting with Still Life, are also available here, many in hardback editions, some signed by the author.
What We've Been Reading
Ruth Ware's The Turn of the Key (Paula)
Because, as the adage goes, "So many books, so little time," I've found myself moving in unfamiliar directions of late.
Last month, it was the British writer Alex Marwood, frequently described as the "queen of unease," for her dark, unsettling psychological mysteries like The Wicked Girls, The Killer Next Door, and The Darkest Secret. I'm eagerly awaiting her next one, The Poison Garden, described as "insidious secrets and chilling revelations surrounding a mysterious cult."
What's happening to me? For someone unaccustomed to the darker side--until recently even in the "avoidance" mode--I've surprised myself with how truly taken with it I've been.
, another British author, has me equally
captivated. Each of her four previous novels (all standalones)--In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game,
and The Death of Mrs. Westaway
--gives credence to the belief that the only truly interesting characters are the flawed ones.
Another consistent theme in the author's work is one our mothers might have warned us about (mine did!): things that seem perfect rarely are.
Ware's newest title, the highly anticipated The Turn of the Key, is no exception. When a 27-year-old London woman answers an ad for a lucrative live-in nanny position in a posh home in the Scottish Highlands, she thinks it sounds almost too good to be true. She accepts it nevertheless. Need I say more?
If you've read any of Ware's earlier books, you won't want to miss this one. If you're not familiar with her, get started now.
Mick Herron's Joe Country (Ann)
Joe Country is the best of the best this year in the spy category. I would say best of the best period but only now have I had the time to start reading Kate Atkinson's Big Sky (because after nine years I needed to reread the first four Jackson Brodys to remember where we were with our hapless hero) and Denise Mina's Conviction (fortunately a standalone).
The continuing adventures of our doomed group of spies (Joes) who have committed such egregious spycraft mistakes as lost secret documents that they are forever sentenced to futile data searches (and on their own probably equally futile efforts to win their way back into real spydom) are magnificent.
Joe Country is a masterwork of misdirection. Words imply one thing but mean another. Shifts in time and perspective leave the reader unbalanced. Once you've figured out where you are and what the problem is (admittedly more than a few pages in), you'll be on the edge of your seat.
My only proviso is that it may be difficult for readers who have not read most of the previous five books to know what is happening. Like Martin Walker and Louise Penny, knowing the cast and the particularities of each person are critical to your enjoyment. Because it's the group as much as the adventure that's the key.
Of course, many of this summer's visitors to the shop will be safe as I probably forced Slow Horses, the first book in the series, on them. I would feel more guilt if it weren't such a great series.
Donna Andrews, Owl Be Home for Christmas [Meg Langslow #26]
Lee Child, Blue Moon [Jack Reacher #24]
Michael Connelly, The Night Fire [Harry Bosch & Renee Ballard #2]
*John Connolly, A Book of Bones [Charlie Parker #17]
Patricia Cornwell, Quantum [Captain Chase #1]
Deborah Crombie, A Bitter Feast [Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #18]
Nelson DeMille and Alex DeMille, The Deserter [NS]
, Christmas Sweets
[Includes The Twelve Desserts of Christmas
(by Joanne Fluke
), Nightmare on Elf Street
(by Laura Levine
), and The Christmas Thief (by Leslie Meier)]
Nicci French, The Lying [NS]
Tess Gerritsen, The Shape of the Night [NS]
John Grisham, The Guardians [NS]
*Elizabeth Hand, Curious Toys [NS]
Martin Limon, GI Confidential [George Sueno & Ernie Bascom #14]
Adrian Magson, Terminal Black [Harry Tate #6]
Catriona McPherson, Strangers at the Gate [NS]
Nicholas Meyer, The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols [posthumous Memoirs of Dr. John Watson #4]
Joyce Carol Oates, The Pursuit [NS]
James Patterson and Maxime Paetro, The 19th Christmas [Women's Murder Club #19]
Caro Ramsay, Mosaic [NS]
Mike Ripley, Mr. Campion's Visit [Albert Campion #6]
*David Rosenfelt, Dachshund Through the Snow [Andy Carpenter #20]
James Sallis, Sarah Jane [NS]
John Sandford, Bloody Genius [Virgil Flowers #12]
Alexander McCall Smith, To the Land of Long Lost Friends [No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency #20]
Charles Todd, A Cruel Deception [Bess Crawford #11]
*Stuart Woods, Stealth [Stone Barrington #51]
Our Traveling Book Bag
Another journey for our Mainely Murders book bag. Patricia Santos of Valley Cottage, New York, says her 15-day tour of Ireland in September was "amazing." One of the stops was The Giant's Causeway, an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption, located in County Antrim on the north coast of Northern Ireland.