Identify the Laotian doctor whose exploits during the 1970s are covered in a popular long-running series.
Send your answer to
(subject line: quiz). A prizewinner (a $25 gift card) will be randomly drawn from correct submissions.
of Catawissa, Pennsylvania, who identified the late
as the two New England fishing buddies, who included fishing adventures in both their long-running mystery series and eventually wrote three books together featuring their characters, J.W. Jackson and Brady Coyne.
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.
August 3, 1920, in Oxford, England. Adam Dalgliesh, a poetry-
writing Scotland Yard inspector who appeared in 14 books from 1962 through 2008, was her most enduring character. By the time of her death in 2014,
were the most popular contemporary writers of "traditional" mystery novels. The Mystery Writers of America honored her as a Grand Master in 1999.
Swedish crime writer
, born August 5, 1926, was best known for his collaborative work with partner
on a series of 10 novels about the exploits of Martin Beck, a police detective in Stockholm, published between 1965 and 1975 (1966-1976 in English). These books established Sweden as a player on the international mystery scene and greatly influenced Scandinavian crime writing. He died June 22, 1975.
Robert van Gulik
, author of the
Judge Dee mysteries, was born August 9, 1910, in Zutphen, H
olland. His work as a Dutch diplomat in the Far East led to his interest in Chinese history and culture. He wrote 16 novels featuring Judge Dee, a magistrate in China during the Tang Dynasty (600s). He died in 1967.
Dorothy B. Hughes
, one of the first women to write hard-boiled fiction, was born August 10, 1904, in Kansas City. Named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1978, she died in 1993.
journalist and mystery writer, was born August 15, 1954. His famous Millennium trilogy--The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest--was published after his death in 2004.
, more often recognized for her Regency romances than her mysteries, was born August 16, 1902, in Wimbledon, Surrey. Her 12 mysteries, written between 1935 and 1953, are often cited as perfect examples of the classic country house mysteries. Clever dialogue was her forte. She died in 1974.
, born in
, England, on August 16, 1926, was the leading spy novel reviewer and one of the leading spy novelists of the 1970s and '80s. He won the British Crime Writers' Association's award for Best First Novel and his fourth bested
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
for Best Crime Novel in 1974. He retired in 1989 after writing 19 Dr. Audley/Col. Butler books and died on May 30, 2019.
Earl Derr Biggers
was born August 26, 1910, in Warren, Ohio. He is most remembered for his creation of the inscrutable Hawaiian detective Charlie Chan, his attempt to counteract the then-prevailing image of the "sinister Oriental." He died in 1967.
Margaret Caroline Fraser,
CH, DBE, FRSL--was born August 27, 1932, in London. In addition to writing fiction, history, and biographies, she published a nine-book mystery series featuring Jemima Shore, an investigative television journalist in London, who first appeared in
Quiet As a Nun
in 1977. The series later led to a British television series.
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 a signed
While from the beginning our inventory has been focused on readers, not collectors, we occasionally, as was the case recently, come upon discoveries we like to pass along to our customers.
These are signed, mylar-covered first edition runs of some of our customers' favorite authors like
, and others.
Contact us for more information.
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 email@example.com.
Thank you for supporting
and other small independent booksellers. At a time when
you have other choices
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.
Just because you can't be here today, tomorrow, or even next week doesn't mean you can't get your favorite books from us. We happily accept mail, phone, or e-mail orders. You can reach us at 207-985-8706 or
We'll contact you to confirm your order, availability of titles, and method of payment. Unless otherwise requested, we ship USPS media mail.
Our gift cards are available in any amount. The perfect gift for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or "just because."
We're happy to take mail/phone orders and will send to you or directly to the recipient.
It may be August, but as far as we're concerned it's still "high summer." Those pesky back-to-school ads be damned! There's plenty of summertime to be enjoyed.
August is heating up--no pun intended--for a big month of new releases, led by the much-anticipated
A Better Man
15th Armand Gamache title on the 27th.
To counter the heat, whether
generated by new
Mother Nature, join us Saturday afternoon,
, for our second annual
Classic Ice Cream Social.
--both with new releases in their Maine series--will join us at the Kennebunk Free Library Monday, August 19, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Hope to see you there.
Yes, there's still plenty happening this summer. We hope you join in the fun.
Meet the Authors
Mark your calendar now for Monday, August 19, at 6 p.m. to hear Maine mystery writers
The event will be held at the Kennebunk Free Library, 112 Main Street, just one block from Mainely Murders. Books will be available for purchase and signing at the event as well as in advance here.
are two of the very best
among Maine writers. Their long list of titles--plus the fact that each is better than the last--is testament to that.
The writers, longtime friends and mystery-writing colleagues, both have recent additions to their Maine series.
is the 12th in
popular series featuring Jack McMorrow--ex-New York Timesreporter-turned-small town Maine newspaper editor-turned freelance writer.
, who himself began his writing career in newspapers, calls newspapers "the best training ground ever."
Lawyer-turned-writer (and a former Maine assistant attorney general)
is the owner of two series, with her newest,
A Child Shall Lead, the sixth in a series featuring Portland Police Department detective-sergeant Joe Burgess. She also is the author of
Finding Amy: A True Story of Murder in Maine
Joseph K. Loughton
Mysteries Served a la Mode
Join us Saturday afternoon, August 3, from 3:30 to 5, for Mainely Murders' version of a Classic Ice Cream Social.
Like ice cream--whatever the flavor, with or without a cherry on top--mystery classics never go out of style. That's why they're called classics.
While you're enjoying the ice cream (cone or cup), check out writers of the past. Americans like
Erle Stanley Gardner
. Or for the Britophiles, consider
True classics: ice cream and mysteries. They're a Mainely Murders tradition.
Summertime Traffic Up;
And All Roads Lead Here
State officials haven't yet given out their Maine traffic report, but we know we're seeing an uptick in visitors, particularly among first-time customers. Needless to say, we revel in introducing our little bookstore.
We especially thank our many loyal customers for sending (or actually bringing) family and friends this way, and this year they've had some help.
We had a real boost earlier this summer when WMTW-TV in Portland featured us on its Channel 8 News. We're convinced that we're really more charming and well-spoken than we appeared on screen, but that was no fault of anchor/newsman Steve Minich or his camerawoman. It was only later that we learned that the piece was not only shown here in Maine but was also picked up by numerous network affiliates nationwide and
(skip the ad).
Next came a feature article about us by Sisters in Crime/New England. In its
peppered us with questions about everything from our opening in 2011 to what we think sets us apart now from other booksellers.
Kennebunk Beach Realty's recent full-page ad in the
Portland Press Herald
included us in a feature about the best places to visit in the Kennebunks.
Out for a Run
Distance running has always been a mystery to us. Runners tell us they do it for pleasure; we read books.
This foursome came all the way from Northbrook, Illinois, for a three-state (Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts) running-event weekend. While in Kennebunk, they stopped in for a visit.
The Coffee2Run4 team--with an eventual goal of hitting events in every state--is comprised of, left to right,
Debbie Gordon, and
, the bestselling writer who has long anchored our Italian section, died in July at the age of 93.
After spending much of his life working as a
screenwriter and director,
greatest fame came from the mystery-writing career he began at the age of 70.
His popular series featuring Salvo Montalbano, police inspector in the fictional Sicilian town of Vigàta, has been translated into 32 languages and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
The series, first translated into English in 2002, began with
The Shape of Water.
For Montalbano fans who fear that they'll never know the conclusion of this series, don't despair.
wrote the concluding novel in the series many years ago, placing it in the hands of his publisher for safekeeping. "When I get fed up with [Montalbano] or am not able to write any more, I'll tell the publisher: publish that book," he said at the time. "Sherlock Holmes was recovered . . . but it will not be possible to recover Montalbano. In that last book, he's really finished."
In the meantime, we still have books to enjoy. His 26th title, in English, is scheduled for release in the United States in September.
Bookworms From North Carolina
We love welcoming book clubs to our shop. And we had a great time with this Charlotte, North Carolina, group. They call themselves the Charlotte Bookworms--Yvonne Tiedemann,
Diane Black, and
Jennifer Nickel. (At their request, we're in there somewhere, too.)
When last we saw them, they were discussing how they'd manage to pack all their book purchases for the flight home. We suggested our strategy: leave behind some clothes; they're available anywhere.
eries, Big Prices
Every collector hopes for a rare find amidst the forgotten detritus in grandmother's attic, among the $1 books outside a charity shop, or gleaned from the curbside "Free" pile the day before trash collection.
So, just in case, rest assured there's money in the rarest of books. On the auction block in March:
* A rare first edition in its original first-printing dust jacket of
second book, was sold for $27,500.
* A signed first edition of
The Big Sleep
went to a bidder for $57,500.
The books were part of the personal collection of
, editor, bookseller, and founder of Mysterious Press.
What We've Been Reading
We admit that our reading has suffered the last couple of months. Big birthdays (70th for Paula and 75th for Ann) got in the way. When the numbers get that big, they merit more celebrating.
Instead of diving into new books, we both took time to re-read old favorites.
Our June mystery question about steeplechase jockey-turned-bestselling mystery writer
got me thinking about how much I enjoy blending my lifelong passion for mysteries and my love of horses.
No one has ever come close to matching
. His first novel,
, was published in 1962, followed by an internationally bestselling book in each of the next nearly 40 years.
Fast-paced, cleverly plotted, and highly believable. Those terms describe virtually all of his books. Quite simply,
was one whose success on the race track translated to the written word.
With 40-plus books to choose from, it's difficult to pick a favorite, although many critics have sought to list theirs. But, rest assured, there isn't a bad one in the bunch.
One series does stand out--indeed only one of three continuing stories. Sid Halley, an injured steeplechase jockey-turned-PI, stars in five
titles, more than any other character.
But, the lack of a "career character" actually worked to the author's (and readers') advantage, allowing the stories, while all centered on horse racing, to be told from a variety of voices. Narration can come from riders, owners, and trainers--all obviously track characters--but also from others only tangentially connected to racing.
A word of warning. Horse racing is not without its share of shady characters and elicit practices, something that even a racing legend like
recognized. Those who are horse lovers, and not necessarily fans of the "business" of big-time horse racing, beware.
Since his death in 2010,
has picked up the reins of the series. But, the "new
" seems to lack the feel of the track and its horses and people--something the original did so very well.
is one of my go-to authors when I'm feeling like something in the classic British line, i.e., gentle, with an understated sense of humor (as opposed to
who prefers to club you over the head with the humor in his books about his corrupt little town). They're perfect "before sleeping" books because nothing reminds me of real life.
, in fact, writes the literary equivalent of
Midsomer Murders. Over the last 53 years she has left bodies all over fictional West Calleshire while writing 24 books (as of today with the publication of
Inheritance Tracks). Poor inspector Sloane works in one of the most crime-ridden areas of Britain and has a superintendent not noticeable for his flexibility.
I favor reading her earlier books--perhaps because I have them available. They take place in "typical" classic mystery locations--nunneries (her first,
The Religious Body), stately homes (retitled appropriately,
The Stately Home Murder), a manor house with new owners (A Most Contagious Game), a flower show (Passing Strange), and an old college (Murder in the Quadrangle).
I reread them endlessly, adrift in a world that never was--but such a pleasant vision.
[Sloan & Crosby #25]
Terns of Endearment
[Meg Langslow #25]
A Killer Edition
Love and Death Among the Cheetahs
[Royal Spyness #13]
[Cassie Dewell #4]
Invitation to Die
[John Redfyre #2]
[Inspector Sejer #13]
Dead At First Sight
[Roy Grace #15]
[Will Rees #7]
A Better Man
[Armand Gamache #15]
Old Bones[Nora Kelly #1]
Hank Phillippi Ryan
The Twice-Hanged Man
The Turn of the Key
[Stone Barrington #50]
* Maine authors or locations
It's summer in Maine and that means frolicking at
the beach or lake, days on the golf course or out on the boat. Meeting up with friends at the local lobster pound.
of Portland means being outdoors on his deck reading. For Charlie, that can be books as varied as a
thriller or a
Maine Clambake Mystery.