Considering our current location out on the road, this is a quiz we can't resist. Name the bestselling American mystery writer born in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
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 Mary McDermott of Orleans, Massachusetts, who named Lee Harris and Valerie Wolzien as authors known for their lineup of holiday whodunits. Among the other authors cited by respondents were Leslie Meier, Mary Higgins Clark/Carol Higgins Clark, Isis Crawford, Janet Evanovich, Jane Haddam, and Carolyn Hart.
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.
November 9, 1832, in Saujon, France, was a writer, novelist, journalist, and pioneer of detective fiction. His best-known creation was Monsieur Lecoq, one of the earliest detectives in literature, who was said to have been a major influence on Sherlock Holmes, Arsene Lupin, and other fictional characters. He died in 1873 in Paris.
Anna Katherine Green, author of The Leavenworth Case (1878), was born November 11, 1845. This classic novel, among the very first mysteries written by a woman, featured Ebenezer Gryce, a New York City police detective. She died in 1935.
November 24, 1900, in Boston, created one of the most famous clerical detectives, Rabbi David Small. His first book in the series, Friday The Rabbi Slept Late
(1964), won the Edgar for Best First Novel. He died in 1996.
John Dickson Carr, who also wrote under the pseudonym Carter Dickson, was born November 30, 1906, in Pennsylvania. Best known for his locked-room mysteries, he was honored as a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1963. He died in 1977.
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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As most of you know, we're on our annual fall
hiatus, a time we take for recharging both ourselves and our stock. We'll re-open Wednesday, November 20, when we'll resume our Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. schedule through December 28. (Except, of course, for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.)
At the moment, we're in Jonesboro, Arkansas, the place where, more than 40 years ago, we first started talking about a future mystery bookstore. Back then, it was just a germ of an idea. (If you've got a map, we're about 70 miles northwest of Memphis.)
While out on the road, we'll be looking for books to add to our shelves for the last month and a half of the year.
In the meantime, Happy Reading.
Ann and Paula
Partners in Crime
Holidays are a popular theme for mystery writers, and Thanksgiving is no exception, though not ranking up near its neighbors, Halloween and Christmas.
Still there are numerous titles from which to choose, including A Catered Thanksgiving, Turkey Day Murder, Turkey Trot Murder, Wicked Autumn, Fatal Feast, The Thursday Turkey Murders.
Thanksgiving must surely be America's biggest eating holiday. That said, we wonder why there aren't more murders associated with it? The scenarios are limitless: Fights over what's to be served for dinner: "What do you mean no turkey this year?" "You put what in the stuffing?" "Who says key lime pie isn't traditional?"
There's also the availability of weapons. Name your poison; it's a natural. Utensils: the carving knife? Motives abound: after all, it's a family holiday.
Small Business Saturday
It's weeks away, but Small Business Saturday (the
Saturday after Thanksgiving, this year November 30) is the kickoff to the Christmas season and a time to support small, local retailers. Mainely Murders, like other small businesses, greatly appreciates your support. Visit us that day for refreshments, a raffle, and free gift wrapping.
The Oxford Bar, in Edinburgh, Scotland, is a no-frills drinking hole located in a characterless building on a nondescript street, the kind of place one could easily pass by. But readers of author Ian Rankin know the Oxford Bar (or simply the Ox) as the favorite hangout of Inspector John Rebus.
So, when Mainely Murders customers Joanne and Ron Tetu, New Hampshire residents who summer in Wells, recently visited the Scottish capital, they asked a local taxi driver if it was, indeed, real, and if he could take them there.
Long story short, who was there at the bar but Ian Rankin himself, who took time for a chat and a photo with Joanne.
Dent Lynch of Churchton, Maryland, is a fan of Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret. After a stop at Mainely Murders earlier this fall, he headed north to Corea, Maine, where, he said, "A bag full of books, sunshine, and the ocean. Perfect."
Over the years, Simenon's books have anchored our French shelves. Yes, we know that Simenon was actually Belgian, but his most famous detective, Inspector Jules Maigret, was most decidedly French.
From the Cape
We get lots of visitors from Cape Porpoise, Cape Elizabeth, even Cape Cod, but David and Lisa Drewienka were our very first from Cape Town, South Africa.
The couple, who now live in London, came to Maine last month to see the fall colors, and they weren't disappointed. They were also pleased with Mainely Murders' stock of international mysteries, especially those from South African writers Deon Meyer and Malla Nunn.
Talk about generous, Lisa and David invited us to drop in the next time we're in London. Should we head even farther afield, we have an invite to visit with Lisa's mother, also a mystery reader, in Cape Town.
What We've Been Reading (Paula)
After two consecutive months captivated by dark, scary psychological mysteries--I don't know what came over me--my reading this month has gone to the dogs (and horses and foxes).
David Rosenfelt's Dachshund Through the Snow
Maine writer David Rosenfelt's reluctant attorney Andy Carpenter returns with his 20th engaging novel. No one does a better job than Rosenfelt in combining a love of dogs with a good mystery, giving us another Christmas story to boot.
It's almost Christmas--close enough; Andy's wife Laurie starts the season in November--and the couple has taken on a new tradition this year.
Their local pet store has a Christmas tree, decorated with wishes from needy children. One poignant wish leads Andy to a child named Danny, whose selfless plea strikes a chord. Danny has asked Santa for a coat for his mother, a sweater for his dachshund, Murphy, and for the safe return of his missing father, which, turns out, may not be so easy.
Like all of Rosenfelt's books, Dachshund Through the Snow will engage you from the start. (The title itself captured my attention.) If that isn't reason enough to buy the book, the promise of helping buy beds and kibble for the senior dogs the Rosenfelt household rescues, through its Tara Foundation, just might be.
Rita Mae Brown's Scarlet Fever
I've long been a fan of Rita Mae Brown's output of mysteries, starting with her Mrs. Murphy series written with her feline collaborator Sneaky Pie Brown.
But, it's the author's (Rita Mae, not Sneaky Pie) Sister Jane Arnold series, set in the foxhunting and horse country of Virginia, that's my favorite. Brown herself is an avid horsewoman and a master of the hounds (Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club in Charlottesville, Virginia). That, and her love of the land and its animals, come through in every book.
Scarlet Fever, #12 in the series, is no exception. While it's release isn't until November 26, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek.
It's winter in Virginia horse country, but that isn't likely to deter Sister Jane, master of the hounds of the Jefferson County Hunt Club, from carrying on with the season. But the suspected murder of one of its members might.
With its familiar cast of characters--both two-and four-legged--Scarlet Fever gives readers a glimpse of American fox hunting (not killing, which the author always makes clear).
Like her Mrs. Murphy books co-written by Sneaky Pie, Brown gives voice (literally) to all her characters: hounds and foxes. It's no mystery to me why her popularity continues.
Boris Akunin, Not Saying Goodbye [Erast Fandorin #13]
Ace Atkins, Robert B. Parker's Angel Eyes [Spenser continuation #8]
David Baldacci, A Minute to Midnight [Atlee Pine #2]
Frances Brody, The Body on the Train [Kate Shackleton #11]
Rita Mae Brown, Scarlet Fever [Jane Arnold #12]
Ken Bruen, Galway Girl [Jack Taylor #15]
Max Allan Collins, Killing Quarry [Quarry #15]
Ellen Crosby, The Angels' Share [Wine Country #10]
Clive Cussler and Boyde Morrison, Final Option [Oregon Files #14]
Allen Eskins, Nothing More Dangerous [NS]
Alan Furst, Under Occupation [NS]
Sally Goldenbaum, A Murderous Tangle [Seaside Knitters #14]
Robert Harris, The Second Sleep [NS]
Michael Jecks, The Dead Don't Wait [Jack Blackjack #4]
Joseph Kanon, The Accomplice [NS]
M. L. Longworth, A Noel Killing [Provencal #8]
Catriona McPherson, A Step So Grave [Dandy Gilver #13]
Margaret Mizushima, Tracking Game [Timber Creek K-9 #5]
Paula Munier, Blind Search [Mercy Carr & Elvis #2]
Otto Penzler, The Big Book of Reel Murders: The Stories That Inspired Great Crime Films [SS]
Anne Perry, A Christmas Gathering [Christmas #17]
James Rayburn, Ash [NS]
Rosemary Simpson, Death Brings a Shadow [Gilded Age #4]
Martin Cruz Smith, The Siberian Dilemma [Arkady Renko #9]
*Lea Wait, Thread and Buried [Mainely Needlepoint #9]
Mysteries may allow readers a temporary "escape from reality," but today's writers are increasingly tackling real social issues. The nation's opioid crisis is one that stands out.
Writer Julia Keller is one of the very best, something that hasn't escaped mystery reviewer/blogger (and Mainely Murders customer) Marilyn Brooks
of Needham, Massachusetts. Indeed, it was Marilyn who first introduced us to Keller, who, before turning to mystery writing, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the Chicago Tribune.
Julia Keller is absolutely one of my favorite authors.The Cold Way Home is the eighth book in the Bell Elkins series and, like the others, it doesn't disappoint.
There is a lot of backstory in each of the Elkins books, but Ms. Keller does an excellent job of bringing the new reader up-to-date without boring those who have read previous novels. The most important thing to learn is that Bell was formerly the district attorney in the small rural town of Acker's Gap, West Virginia; a felony she committed as a child and was unaware of has recently come to light and caused her disbarment, the loss of her position, and a prison term.
Trying to put all that behind her but still use her legal and detecting skills, she has opened INVESTIGATIONS, a three-person firm that also includes Nick Fogelman, the former sheriff, and Jake Oakes, the former deputy sheriff.
The skill level of each is high but so are the burdens each carries. For Bell, it's knowing that her older sister had protected her from the knowledge of Bell's crime at a great cost to herself. For Nick, it's the end of his 40-year marriage. For Jake, it's the reality that he will be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life due to a shooting in the line of duty.
In The Cold Way Home, Keller again deals with legal and illegal drugs in West Virginia. Her last three mysteries have focused on the opioid crisis that is rampant in West Virginia, the writer's home state.
In 2017, West Virginia had the highest percentage of deaths due to drugs in the United States; the state held that title in 2016 as well. So, when Bell tells district attorney Rhonda Lovejoy, "Fate doesn't need to be tempted. . . . Expect the worst and you're never disappointed," it's all too true.
Starting from the beginning of this series would be ideal, but starting is the operative word. Each book is well worth reading, and together they form a picture, although a sad one, of the hardscrabble life all too prevalent in rural America today.