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

Thursday, Friday, Saturday
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For your convenience, call or e-mail before you come. 
Bad weather (rain or snow) means no opening.

October 2020

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


As Marilyn Brooks emphasizes in her popular mystery course this fall at the Brandeis Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandais University, detectives come with all sorts of abilities and disabilities. Name the author (and his protagonist) of a series about a blind crime-solving musician.

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

Congratulations to Margie Harkins of Sewell, New Jersey, last month's winner, who named Jessica Estevao the author whose books, Whispers Beyond the Veil and Whispers of Warning, are turn-of-the-19th-century mysteries set in Old Orchard Beach. 

Thanks to all who entered this month (and all the other months). Our mystery readers are rarely stumped for an answer.

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.
Helen MacInnes, the Scottish writer of numerous romantic espionage novels, was born October 7, 1907, in GlasgowHer books were written after moving to the U.S. in 1947. She died in New York City in 1985.
Elmore Leonard,
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).

Evan Hunter 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. Given the Grand Master award by the MWA in 1987, he died in 2005.

John Le Carré 
(David John 
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 nine books. He has received both the Crime Writers Association Diamond Dagger (1988) and the MWA Grand Master award (1984).

Signed Firsts

Signed, first editions have long been held in high esteem by book lovers. Many of us have our own, if limited, collections. For example, we like having signed Sara Paretsky, Val McDermid, Patricia Moyes, Sue Grafton, Louise Penny, and other authors we've met in person or through their books.
While from the beginning our inventory has been focused on readers, not collectors, we do have some special finds. Signed, mylar-covered first edition runs (not all) of authors Louise Penny, Paul Doiron, Tess Gerritsen, Lee Child, David Baldacci, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and others.
Own a signed copy of a favorite title. How about signed copies from each of your favorite authors? Purchase for yourself or as a gift. Prices vary and supply limited. Let us know the author and we'll reply with a list of available signed books.
Book Buying Policy 
We're often contacted by people selling books--whether individual titles or complete collections.
Be aware that we buy books on a limited basis, according to our need for individual titles. Books on our shelves reflect only part of our stock.
We no longer buy hardback editions. 

In order to be considered for purchase, trade paper and mass market paper editions must be in very good-excellent physical condition and must pass the "smell test" (no mildew or smoke).
We continue to accept donated books--as long as they meet our criteria for condition. We do, however, stipulate that such books may be passed along to a library or other non-profit organizations.
If you find yourself with quantities of unwanted books, we suggest you contact your local library. Library sales are great.


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. 

What a treat it was to see so many of you at last month's introduction to "outdoor browsing." Blessed with pleasant weather, some of you brought lists of old favorites, while others were checking out new releases.
Now that fall is officially here, we're hoping for splendid Maine autumn weather, allowing us to continue outdoor browsing and enticing even more of you to visit.
All too soon, we'll be returning to exclusively mail order and curbside pick-up--with, possibly, the addition of indoor shopping by appointment. We hope that you'll stock up now on your winter reading. Or, even get a head start on your holiday shopping.
Up until now, we've managed to weather the storm of the pandemic, thanks in large part to those of you who have who have supported us with mail orders.
Like most other independents, our inventory has been, and will continue to be, severely impacted by Covid-19. While we do have reasonable supplies of our most popular authors, holes are starting to appear. The uncertainty ahead means our ability to purchase additional stock will be limited. Traditional sources of books like library sales are mostly closed and travel to book warehouses is too risky for us.
Continue to stay safe.

Paula & Ann
Partners in Crime
P.S. Fall is perfect farmers market time. With Saturday morning's Kennebunk market only a block outside our door, customers can stock up on books and their favorite market fare. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to show off Paige Shelton's Farmers Market series. 


New This Month

Our Favorite New Reads
The Less Dead, Denise Mina
We've been Denise Mina fans since her Garnethill Trilogy, then following her through her Glasgow newspaper reporter Paddy Meeham and detective sergeant Alex Morrow series, and finally her equally superb standalones.
She's done it again in her latest, The Less Dead. What starts out to be a tale of a woman's hunt for her birth mother, quickly becomes the story of the search for her murderer. And, once again as in last year's Conviction, Mina tackles tough questions:
Are faceless, unsympathetic victims entitled justice? Or, are they the "less dead"?
Still Life, Val McDermid
It's mid-February 2020 when a body washes up on a rocky shore. Alas for the police, the head wounds indicate the man was murdered. When fingerprints show he was once a suspect in the disappearance of a Scottish government official, Edinburgh cold case DCI Karen Pirie and her small team are drawn into the case. Unfortunately for them, they already have a suspicious pile of bones in an old camper van stored in a garage. Given her snarky superior, Pirie is pressed to come up with solutions quickly.
Another wonderful book by McDermid. Indeed, this is fast becoming our favorite McDermid series.

Every Writer Needs a Plan B;
Mary Lawrence Has a Sweet One
Most authors we know admit to having (or having had) a Plan B for their writing careers. We think writer Mary Lawrence has the sweetest of all plans.
Lawrence, whose series is set in Tudor London during the final years of Henry VIII's reign, follows Bianca Goddard in her pursuit of science to create medicines to help the sick. Along the way, she deals with unhealthy doses of both murder and mayhem.
To date, the series numbers five: The Alchemist's Daughter, Death of an Alchemist, Death at St. Vedast, The Alchemist of Lost Souls, and the recent The Lost Boys of London.
While the series has garnered high praise from readers of historical whodunits since its debut in 2015, Lawrence says a writer "never knows." Hence: Rare Berry Farm and its line of jams, all made from fruit grown on her Maine farm.
"I couldn't count on getting published; I always expected farming would happen first. However, you never know in life---I was offered a book contract with Kensington and my first two books launched before any jams did. I'm passionate about both ventures."
Lucky for us Lawrence lives in nearby Limington and sells her line of jams at, among other outlets, the Kennebunk Farmers Market. (Our personal favorite is Damn Good Damson Plum, one of the numerous mysteriously named offerings.)
Fans of both her writing and her culinary skills, we're offering our very own Octoberfest special. Buy any book in the Bianca Goddard series--Lawrence says they needn't be read in order--and you'll be entered into a drawing to win a sampling from Rare Berry Farm.
In the Beginning
How often we've heard it: "I was totally hooked by the opening line." It's happened to all of us.
How important to you are those first few words? Do you have a memorable opening from mystery/detective fiction? Share it at (subject line: opening lines). 

Once a week, I chase men who are not my husband. (After everything, I do this still.)
Lisa Ladd of Thetford Center, Vermont, says she was hooked by that opening line in Liam Callanan's Paris by the Book, described by one reviewer as filled with rich characters, a twisty plot, a bit of mystery, and a heaping dollop of joie de vivre."
Nobody was poisoned at the dinner for the Society of Olive Oil Producers of Baetica--though in retrospect, that was quite a surprise. 
So begins A Dying Light in Corduba, by Lindsey Davis. Bev Eason of Wells is a voracious reader, with a sharp eye for a mouth-dropping opening line like this one from one of 20 titles in Davis' Marcus Didius Falco ancient Roman series.

What We've Been Reading

Our shop shelves are filled with books, most of which are the result of our myriad book-buying excursions. With those trips curtailed in recent months, we've been looking to our own shelves for our reading material.
Archer Mayor (Paula)
Vermont author Archer Mayor's 31st Joe Gunther title, The Orphan's Guilt, was released last month. It's definitely on my list of "must reads." But, the truth is, I just read his previous book, Bomber's Moon. And had already committed myself to a winter re-reading--over the years, I've pretty much read them all--of the entire series.
Bomber's Moon starts out with the murder of a small-time drug dealer, an innocuous enough beginning in a modern-day crime novel.

Two young women--one, an investigative reporter, the other a PI--are at the center of 
the story. They form an uneasy alliance, with a single goal: to connect the murder of the small-town drug dealer and the tangled, political, increasingly dark goings-on at a prestigious prep school. At the same time, Joe Gunther and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation colleagues are also on the case.
Through Joe's eyes, I've been exploring Vermont since 1988 and his debut in Open Season. I suspect many others, Vermonters and non-Vermonters alike, have done so, too.
In many ways, Maine's own Paul Doiron's Mike Bowditch reminds me of Joe, whose been doing it a lot longer. 
Holiday Whodunits (Paula)
I'm a sucker for holiday whodunits, no matter the holiday. So, I'm entering into my trifecta of favorite months: October (Halloween) November (Thanksgiving), and December (Christmas).
Halloween doesn't rank up there with Christmas when counting holiday titles, but it always seems like a natural. Think of all those masked faces. (Oops, that was before Covid-19). Or people pretending to be someone/something they're not.
So, I've already pulled out some favorite titles. Candy Corn Murder, Trick or Treachery, Death of a Pumpkin Carver, Skeleton Key, and more. Even if I read two a day from now until Halloween, I'll have extras to go with the leftover trick-or-treat candy.

Stock Up for Fall/Winter 
One of the things we've learned from Covid-19 is that those things that we count on most can quickly become inaccessible. Think libraries and bookstores.
We try not to think about it, but winter is coming. Time to stock up on cold weather reading--as many of you already are.
Our trademark $5 mystery gift bags, each containing three books tied to a single clue, make a perfect reading surprise--for yourself or others.
Currently in stock: Murder Most British, Murder Is Academic, Death by the Glass, Canine Crimes, Meow for Murder, Passport to Crime, Historical Whodunits, Crime Scene: New England, Murder in Beantown, Antiques Road Show, Garden Variety Murders. If you're thinking ahead a few months, there's also Ho-Ho Homicide.

Special October Sale
Cooler 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 café-au-lait mug inspired by Louise Penny and her Three Pines "family." 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.)
Coming in October

Please be aware that publication schedules in both the U.S. and Great Britain have been greatly impacted by this pandemic. Find more at and 

Donna AndrewsThe City of the Magpie [Meg Langslow #28]
John Banville, Snow [NS]
Frances Brody, Murder is in the Air [Kate Shackleton #12]
Andrea Camilleri, The Sicilian Method [Inspector Montalbano #26]
Lee and Andrew Child, The Sentinel [Jack Reacher #25]
Agatha Christie, Midwinter Murder [Winter-themed short stories]
Lauren Elliott, A Page Marked for Murder [Beyond the Page Bookstore #5]
Nicci French, House of Correction [NS]
Tana French, The Searcher [NS]
Sally Goldenbaum, A Crime of a Different Stripe [Seaside Knitters Society #4]
John Grisham, A Time for Mercy  [Jake Brigance #3]
Lisa Jackson, A Death Long Overdue [Lighthouse Library #7]
Alexander McCall Smith, How to Raise an Elephant [No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency #21]
Val McDermid, Still Life [Karen Pirie #6]
Stuart Neville, The Traveler and Other Stories [SS]
James Patterson and Shan Serafin, Three Women Disappear [NS]
Ian Rankin, A Song for the Dark Times [John Rebus #23]
*David Rosenfelt, Silent Bite [Andy Carpenter #22]
Victoria Thompson, City of Schemes [Counterfeit Lady #4]
*Stuart WoodsShakeup [Stone Barrington #55]
*Maine Tie

Customers Recommend
Marilyn Brooks of Needham, Massachusetts, has developed quite the following among mystery readers for the courses she teaches at the Brandeis Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandais University.
As a customer and friend of Mainely Murders, Marilyn ( kindly shares her course syllabus with our readers who might wish to follow along on their own. Last month, she began another of her unique looks at the mystery genre with WHODUNIT?: Detectives With Disabilities.
We asked her to explain her selection of the topic.

I've read a number of excellent mysteries featuring disabled/differently-abled/handicapped protagonists and wanted to bring the books to the attention of those enrolled in my class. Truly, I think we are more aware of disabilities now than we were in the past, due in great part to the work of advocates who have pushed for greater inclusivity and accessibility.
That, in turn, made people realize that disabled people all around us are leading happy, productive lives. Once we realized that a child in a wheelchair was capable of navigating the halls of a school, that an adult with Attention Deficit Disorder developed coping strategies to improve concentration and work skills, we realized that disabilities can be overcome.
Also, the class will put the spotlight on abled/non-handicapped people as well. Even choosing the course's title shows how fraught with difficulty the subject is. What is the correct term, and do all "disabled" people view themselves in that light?
In a recent article in Time magazine, "What Does Kindness Look Like?" that I share with my class, the author talks about how people, seeing her in a wheelchair, rush to help, assistance she doesn't want or need. The "help" offered is really an intrusion, a well-meaning thought by the "helper" that being in a wheelchair means needing assistance for everyday tasks. Thus, I thought that non-disabled people perhaps need a more sensitive look into how they relate to those they view as needing their assistance when that may not be the case at all. I hope that this course will lead into a discussion of this important topic.
We will be reading and discussing disabilities both visible and invisible, some obvious and some not. Our reading list: The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith (amputation); After She's Gone, Camilla Grebe (memory loss); Love Story, with Murder, Harry Bingham (Cotard's Syndrome); Odds Against, Dick Francis (deformed hand); A Cold Treachery, Charles Todd (PTSD); Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem (Tourette's Syndrome); The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (Asperger's Syndrome); and Little Black Lies, Sandra Block (ADHD).

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
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