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We recently noted that writer Anne Hillerman will continue on with her late father's Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee series. Name another writer, this one British, whose son continued on with his sporting mysteries following his death. Name the son also.
Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
(subject line: monthly quiz).
Winner, to be awarded a
$25 Mainely Murders' gift
card, will be drawn from
Last month's quiz--in which we asked you to identify today's culinary superstar whose resume includes mystery writer--remains unanswered by readers. We've decided to hold back the answer. Don't be surprised if it shows up in a later quiz.
What We're Reading
F. Paul Wilson
* After 37 years, I should just accept that Ann's favorite authors are rarely my own. But, this month, I'm giving it another try.
** Yes, in case anyone keeps track, this is the same list as last month. I've fallen dreadfully behind.
Look for the
"For Collectors" Page
on Our Website
People ask if we sell online. We don't. But we have put a few books on our website. They're mostly hardcover first editions or signed books.
Happy August Birthday
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 many gems. In August, we celebrate a number of noted writers.
P.D. James, today's
most popular writer of "traditional" mystery novels, was born August 3, 1920, in Oxford, England. Adam Dalgliesh, her poetry-writing Scotland Yard inspector, is one of her most enduring characters.
Robert van Gulik, writer of the Judge Dee mysteries, was born August 9, 1910, in Zutphen, Holland. His years as a Dutch diplomat in the Far East led to his interest in Chinese history and culture.
Georgette Heyer, often recognized more for her Regency romances than her mysteries, was born August 16, 1902, in Wimbledon, Surrey. Her 12 mysteries are often cited as perfect examples of the classic country house mysteries.
Earl Derr Biggers was born August 26, 1884, in Warren, Ohio. His most famous mystery creation was the inscrutable Charlie Chan, an attempt to counteract the then prevailing image of the sinister "Oriental."
Can't find that particular book or author? In our small bookstore, it's a daily challenge to find space for all the books we'd like to feature. So, if we don't have what you want in stock, we're happy to order it for you.
We ship books anywhere within the United States via USPS.
Thank you for supporting Mainely Murders Bookstore and other small independent booksellers. At a time of increased dominance by chains and online giants, 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.
Did You Know?
For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 stays in the local community. For every $100 spent at a national chain, franchise store, or online, only $14 remains in the community.
What better way to carry your books (or anything else) and the same time demonstrate your love of mysteries than with our Mainely Murders' black bag.
Made of durable fabric with reinforced 20-inch handles, the bag sports our recognizable store logo. ($7)
British Penguins and American "mapbacks"
have drawn interest
among collectors recently.
Well into our third year, we're still surprised--but pleasantly so--when people say they just "discovered" us. They might be visiting the area for the first time, or merely passing through. But, sometimes too, they're our Kennebunk area neighbors, prefacing their walk through the door with, "I've been meaning to stop by ever since you opened."
Advertising brings in some people; others say our signs drew them in. But, since
Day 1, our most important marketing efforts have come from word-of-mouth referrals--one happy customer telling another and another and . . .
You've told your mother, your brother, even your cousin Vinnie. You've written about us on your blogs and Facebook pages, not to mention independent review sites. One couple even asked if we have a wedding gift registration. (We do now!!)
As a small, independent, specialty bookstore, Mainely Murders couldn't stay in business without your help--in the shop, at the cash register, and out there spreading the word.
You make it possible for us to continue the time-honored tradition of personal, independent bookselling. You also nurture our passion for mystery and detective fiction.
Thank you for your continued support.
Paula & Ann
Partners in Crime
P.S. Just in case you're one of the last people on earth to hear that the much-heralded "debut," The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, is actually the work of J. K. Rowling, be advised. The original release was a small print run, but the publisher is now scrambling with a new edition. From all we've heard, it's a real page-turner, sure to delight fans of the hard-boiled PI school.
More Bargain Books
Our Summertime Sunshine Sale on hardback editions continues this month with new authors and titles added daily. While we're making room for more books, buyers are leaving happy. So, this month we're adding more authors.
Summertime Sunshine Sale*
Hardbacks, with Dust Jackets, Many 1st Editions
Jonathan and Faye Kellerman
Sue Grafton (L-S)
$3 each or 4 for $10
Sale limited to books in stock. No special orders.
* Outdoor Sale; Weather Permitting
Yes, we do. And, so do plenty of others.
The Wolfe Pack, the literary society that celebrates all
things Nero Wolfe
, was founded in 1977 and is a forum to discuss, explore, and enjoy the 72 Nero Wolfe books and novellas written by Rex Stout
. It promotes fellowship and extends friendship to those who enjoy these great literary works of mystery through a series of events, book discussions, and a journal devoted to the study of the genius detective and his intrepid assistant, Archie Goodwin.
Kathryn "Ki" Leffler of Kennebunk recently presented us with an official Wolfe Pack sweatshirt. We provided the books, orchid (Wolfe's passion), and beer (his favorite drink). [Photo by L.C. Healey]
|Attention Jack Reacher Fans
If you're a big fan of Lee Child's
Jack Reacher--who isn't?--you'll want to make sure you're up to date on his adventures. He's back in Never Go Back
(Reacher #18) next month.
Summoned home to the headquarters of his old military unit by the new commanding officer, Jack walks into bad news. New CO, Major Susan Turner, isn't there; and now, with everyone from the FBI to four unidentified thugs looking for him, the former Army cop takes off in a desperate effort to clear his name--before it's too late.
Lee Child (and Jack) are continually on our best-seller list. Yes, even after the Hollywood debacle of placing Tom Cruise in Jack's way-too-big shoes.
Phoebe Atwood Taylor:
A New England Classic
Arguably Phoebe Atwood Taylor (1903-1976) originated place-specific mysteries. Taylor spent most of her life in Cape Cod and Boston, and she became popular by writing about what she knew. Her 24 Asey Mayo Cape Cod stories, written between 1931 and 1951, made her name. She also wrote eight Boston-based Leonidas Witherall, somewhat screwball, generally confusing, mysteries and one mystery about the New York World's Fair of 1939 as Freeman Dana, also confusing if clever.
The Asey Mayo series is one of the earliest examples of mysteries that depend on local color for much of their effect. It's common enough now, but in 1931 it surely was not. And, of course, it's that local color that ensures Mayo's enduring popularity. Want to know--more or less--what Cape Cod was like in the 1930s and '40s, just read the books. They're far livelier than many histories.
And just so you know, to find books by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
or her alter ego Alice Tilden, look for the Foul Play imprint. Foul Play, a division of Countryman Press, based in Vermont, reissued all her books in the 1980s.
It also issued the neglected Margot Arnold
[Petronelle Marguerite Mary Cook, born1925]
books about archeologist crime solvers Dr. Penny Spring and Sir Toby Glendower. Arnold
herself was New England-based and set two of the books on Cape Cod.
Each year, one of us "discovers" an author or title that begs the question, "How did I ever miss this?" If you've been in the shop lately, you know that Paula's discovery this year is Martin Walker and his Bruno, Chief of Police series.
An historian and journalist (25 years with Britain's The Guardian), Walker's first Bruno book--aptly named Bruno, Chief of Police--came out in 2008 and has been followed by five others: The Dark Vineyard, Black Diamond, The Crowded Grave, The Devil's Cave, and, soon, The Resistance Man.
Describing Bruno as "chief of police" is a bit of a stretch. Benoît "Bruno" Courrèges is the sole member of the police force in St. Denis, in the Périgord region of southwestern France.
Paula likens her fascination with Walker's books to her love of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache and his oft-visited town of Three Pines. Great character development and a wonderful sense of place. (She's making noises about our soon visiting St. Denis.)
Interested? Don't be surprised if you need to place your name on the list. Paula's been selling the earlier books as fast as Ann can find them. And, she's just as excited about the latest title she's read.
The Devil's Cave finds it's spring in St. Denis. The village choir is preparing for its Easter concert, the wildflowers are blooming, and among the lazy whorls of the river a dead woman is found floating in a boat. With the discovery of sinister markings and black candles near the body, it seems to Bruno that the occult might be involved. And as questions mount, Bruno and his colleagues and friends are drawn ever closer to a climactic showdown in the Gouffre de Colombac, the place locals call the Devil's Cave.
Just So You Know
It's always fun to come across rare finds in our book-hunting travels. For those people whose likes don't extend beyond the current "big names," it might seem odd. But, for us, this is like waking up on Christmas morning.
Recently, we obtained fairly long runs of somewhat hard-to-find authors: Freeman Wills Crofts (though a couple are just reading copies), W.J. Burley (for those who love to read about Cornwell), and Patricia Wentworth (for those who just like "nice").
Happy to Recommend
With scores of new mysteries being published each month--not to mention the shelves of earlier published titles--it's often difficult to know where to start in making recommendations. But, lately, we've turned to authors that we think haven't garnered the popularity they deserve. Some are old classics (Paula chose Dorothy Gilman
while Ann selected Alan Hunter), and others are current writers.
Dorothy Gilman (Paula)
Dorothy Gilman's 14-book Mrs. Polifax series starts with a most unlikely, improbable, unbelievable of premises--a 60-something, card-carrying garden club member, New Jersey grandmother is a part-time CIA agent.
If you can get past that--and I've been happily doing so since the 1960s when she started writing these wonderful books--you're in for a real treat. Indeed, re-reading the books as Mrs. Polifax experiences one dangerous and intrigue-filled escapade after another across Mexico, Turkey, Thailand, China, Morocco, Africa, Sicily, and beyond is a treat I give myself every few years.
According to Wikipedia, today's uber-source of all knowledge, Mrs. Polifax was very likely the only spy in literature to belong simultaneously to the CIA and the local garden club.
Give yourself a treat. Pick up a Mrs. Polifax book--from The Amazing Mrs. Polifax (1966) to Mrs. Polifax Unveiled (2000)--and come by and talk with me. Understandably, the CIA will disavow all knowledge of our conversation.
Alan Hunter (Ann)
Sometimes compared to Georges Simenon, perhaps because of his steady production of George Gently books--48 between 1955 and 1998--Alan Hunter (1922-2005) is reclaiming his popularity in Britain. His books have enjoyed a revival, with reissues in Britain, at least partly because of the George Gently BBC series.
As usual, much is changed in the TV series, including the location (northern England rather than Hunter's beloved East Anglia), now melancholy tone, and characters. Gently even smokes cigarettes rather than a pipe.
In both the books and the TV shows, however, Gently is a thoughtful, not rough-'em-up, policeman--big but not a brute. He's also a good read, with strong dialogue. Reliable and fun.
Qiu Xiaolong (Paula)
If you don't know by now, let it be said again: my top criteria for a great mystery read are well-developed characters and a strong sense of place. Few writers accomplish both better than Qiu Xiaolong (surname Qiu, if you're looking up his books).
An accomplished writer/poet, Qiu burst onto the mystery scene in 2000 with his much-heralded Death of a Red Heroine. Since then, his books--each featuring poetry-writing/poetry-quoting Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department--have continued to paint a vivid picture of modern-day Shanghai.
Thoughtful. Suspenseful. Poetic. These are some of the adjectives that come to mind as I read this series. I haven't yet read No. 8, The Enigma of China, published earlier this year. But, I expect nothing less than excellence from the author and his protagonist.
F. Paul Wilson (Ann)
Enough about sensitive. It's time to talk about Repairman Jack, who
fixes wrongs (or tries to). Because there are very bad people--and things--in this world, Jack sometimes has to eliminate the bad ones to make the world a safer place. OK, he kills them.
Repairman Jack lives completely outside the system. He has no identification in his own name. Like Andrew Vachss's Burke (another of my favorites), he does not exist legally. It's just as well because the bad people he fights often have the help of the supernatural Rakoshi, who are really, really bad and really, really hard to kill.
Originally Jack was a one-off, but 12 years after he appeared in The Tombs, he reappeared in Legacies. Now there are 15 books. Obviously they walk the line between mysteries and horror stories (which I don't usually like). I like Jack, but I know I missed my chance to disappear from the system. I'll have to limit myself to shredding everything with my name on it, always using private browsing, and maintaining a certain paranoia about being tracked.
Our Customers Recommend
Susan Stewart of Kennebunk has contributed a trio of recommendations this month.
Mari Jungstedt's Unseen is interesting and provocative, although I would have preferred a little less romantic twiddle and a little more emphasis on the meat and bones of the police work. Working a love story into a murder investigation doesn't usually end well. Nevertheless, the storyline is compelling and even though the identity of the killer is pretty evident by the last chapter or two, mainly by process of elimination, the author will keep you guessing for a long time. This is one of those "common denominator" mysteries--what is the thread linking the murder victims?--and the author does a good job of taking us back in time to see where their lives converge. All in all, it's an enjoyable excursion in Scandinavian noir.
Back in the good old USA, Thomas Perry is in fine form with The Boyfriend, as his retired policeman-private detective Jack Till chases a serial killer who preys on high-end prostitutes. The prose is lean and spare; Perry doesn't go in for much extraneous detail. Like Lee Child's Jack Reacher, Till is big, strong, an expert marksman, and a man who never backs down in the face of danger. As he follows the killer across the country, the suspense ratchets up until the inevitable denouement, which occurs deep in the California desert. It doesn't disappoint.
Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole is quite possibly my all time favorite policeman (Ian Rankin's Rebus a close second) so I was thrilled to catch up with him again in The Redeemer. This is a long, multi-layered book with a weighty backstory, probably not your choice for a summer beach read, but well worth delving into. Harry is still fighting his usual battle with the bottle, but his determination to solve this complex mystery and bring the killer to justice never flags, and his basic decency is never in doubt. Gotta love him!
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.