February 2023


1 Bourne Street, Kennebunk, ME 04043



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.

British writer Colin Watson was born February 1, 1920, in Croydon, Surrey. Although not much read anymore—except by Ann and a few others—he is best known for his novels set in the town of Flaxborough, placid on the surface, seething with crime underneath. In 1971, his sociological history of British crime fiction, which he described as a cottage industry populated by gentile women, Snobbery with Violence, was published. He died in 1983.

Henning Mankell, who was born in Stockholm on February 3, 1948, and died in Göteborg in 2015, helped make Scandinavian mysteries popular worldwide through his books about Inspector Wallander. He had already written many books by the time the first, Faceless Killers, came out in 1991 (1998 in English). Eventually 10 more followed. Swedish and English TV series were filmed. 


Janwillem van de Wetering, best known for his Amsterdam police procedurals, was born February 12, 1931, in Rotterdam. Two of the books–The Maine Massacre and Just a Corpse at Twilight–were set in Maine, where he spent much of his life. He died in 2008 in Blue Hill.

We may think of him as French, but Georges

Simenon, creator of one of the all-time best detectives, Inspector Jules Maigret, was born February 13, 1903, in Liege, Belgium. Named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1966, he died in 1989.

Margaret Truman, born February 17, 1924, the daughter of the 33rd President of the United States, used her insider knowledge of Washington D.C. to write 25 Capitol Crimes titles. She died in 2008.


Ruth Rendell, aka Barbara Vine, was born

February 17, 1930, in London. Although she wrote numerous psychological standalones, her most enduring books were about Reginald Wexford, a chief inspector in Sussex. She was designated a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1977. She died in 2015.


Maine Has Bookstores for Everyone

Maine has something for everyone—including bookstores. You already know that our specialty is mysteries. And, we think we do that better than anyone.

But if mysteries aren’t your only interest, there are plenty of other wonderful used and antiquarian bookstores from which to choose.

Whether you’re vacationing from away or you’re out exploring your home state, we invite you to check out members of the Maine Antiquarian Booksellers Association. A free pamphletconveniently organized by location throughout the stateis available here.


Thank you!


Thank you for supporting

Mainely Murders 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.  



Winter Well!


We’re back in Paris, after what seems like an eternity. We were last here in those early months of COVID three years ago.

It doesn't take us long to acclimate to life here. We've already returned to our neighborhood shops (the boulangeries, patisseries, etc.), checked to see that our favorite vendors are still at their stalls at the open-air (yes, even in winter) markets, and activated our membership at the American Library in Paris.


Our intention this winter—but we all know about good intentions—is to do a little more traveling beyond Paris. Over the years, Brittany has become a favorite destination. Time and weather will tell.


Despite the distance, we'll keep in touch. The mystery world doesn't stand still just because we're away. For those new to our newsletter—or for benefit of long-time readers who might have forgotten—you will continue to hear from us over the next four months, despite our store's winter closure. We hope we might hear from you, too.

In the meantime, happy reading and winter well.

Au Revoir,

Ann and Paula

Partners in Crime

P.S. Lacking any artistic abilities whatsoever, we send our thanks to Linda Healey of Yarmouth for her contribution to our greetings from Paris.


Our February Picks

Gregg Hurwitz, The Last Orphan (Ann)

The Orphan program was a U.S. government-sanctioned program of assassins, but then it’s decided that killing all the Orphans will prevent any of them from revealing the program existed. Evan Smoak has escaped and so far avoided death, instead helping those in trouble. Unfortunately, the President, not a nice woman, now has him under her control.

In this book, the 8th in the series, Evan is ordered to kill a rich and powerful man the President says is dangerous—or she will have Evan eliminated. But, he has vowed never to kill someone who doesn’t deserve it, and it isn’t clear to him this man does.

Charles Todd, The Cliff’s Edge (Paula) 

Bess Crawford, the World War I British Army nurse, is back in The Cliff’s Edge, the 13th title in the popular series, which started with Duty to the Dead (2009).

It’s the aftermath of World War I, and the former battlefield nurse is uncertain of what’s ahead. But when she’s asked by a cousin to travel to Yorkshire to help a friend through surgery, she agrees. Soon, however, she finds herself caught in the middle of a deadly feud between two families.

Death is nothing new to Bess, but this is no longer on the battlefield. 

Charles Todd—the mother (Carolyn Watgen) and son (David Watgen) writing team—created two of the most fascinating of World War I characters, Bess Crawford and Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge. In all, the two series number 37 titles. 

The Cliff’s Edge is the last Bess Crawford title on which the duo collaborated, before Carolyn Watgen died in 2021. Selfishly, I hope the series, along with that starring Ian Rutledge, continues. But, right now, I’m looking forward to this one.

 MWA To Honor

 Crime Writers of Color

The Mystery Writers of America, the premier organization of the country’s crime writers, has announced Crime Writers of Color will receive one of its coveted Edgar Awards. 

The Raven Award, which honors “outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing,” will be presented to the group at the annual MWA recognition ceremonies in New York City in April.

The Crime Writers of Color is a group of more than 300 crime writers. It was founded by award-winning authors Walter Mosley, Gigi Pandian, and Kellye Garrett in 2018.  

An excellent resource for readers wishing to diversify their 2023 book choices, its website (www.crimewritersofcolor.com) is a virtual celebration of Black mystery writing. 

Book Wisdom

Bookish wisdom from one of the best around, the venerable Paris bookstore Shakespeare & Company:

"Thinking you have to read all the unread books on your shelves before buying new ones is like thinking a wine connoisseur should drink everything in their cellar before buying any new bottles. Some books just need a bit of shelf-time before they (/you) are ready." 

Think about that the next time someone tells you or you say it to yourself–that you’ve got plenty of un-read books at home. 

What We’re Reading (Paula)

What better way to prepare for our Paris winter than to steep myself in the tales of the most famous of fictional Parisian detectives, Georges Simenon’s Inspector Jules Maigret.

Between 1931 and 1972, Simenon, a Belgian by birth but sometimes touted as one of the greatest of “French writers,” wrote some 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring the Paris detective.

The Strange Case of Peter the Lett—originally published in 1931 as Pietr-le-Letton—was the introduction of Maigret. His final case, published in 1972, was Maigret and Monsieur Charles (Maigret et Monsieur Charles). In all, the books and short stories were translated into more than 50 languages.

Despite the last Maigret title being published more than 50 years ago, the books are as enjoyable now as they were when originally written. Even if you’re not planning a trip to Paris, being in the company of its most famous detective will make you feel like you’re almost here.


Q: Which authors were your biggest sellers last year?

A: 2022 was once again a year of international authors.

Canadian author Louise Penny, our perennial best-selling author whose 18th Armand Gamache book, A World of Curiosities, was released in November, again topped the list. Other top sellers were British authors Ann Cleeves, Elly Griffiths, and Martin Walker and American authors Charles Todd and Michael Connelly.

Among the classics, Agatha Christie was the No. 1 favorite. Rex Stout was the runner up.

In our Maine/New England section, Paul Doiron’s series featuring game warden Mike Bowditch was the biggest seller. His 13th book, Hatchet Island, was released in June. Barbara Ross and Bruce Coffin were also very strong.

Coming in February

Three years into the pandemic, new releases are still being impacted. Publication schedules have been alteredfrom dates being pushed back to outright cancellations. Find more at www.stopyourekillingme.com and https://www.cozy-mystery.com/blog/soon-to-be-released-mysteries.

Steve Berry, The Last Kingdom [Cotton Malone #17]

C.J. Box, Storm Watch [Joe Pickett #23] 

Ellen Byron, Wined and Died in New Orleans [Vintage Cookbook #2]

Peter Colt, The Ambassador [Andy Roark #4]

Deborah Crombie, A Killing of Innocents [Duncan Kincaid & Gemma Jones #19]

Tim Dorsey, The Maltese Iguana [Serge Storms #26]

Alice Duncan, Domesticated Spirits [Daisy Gumm Majesty #18]

Mark Greaney, Burner [Gray Man #12]

David Handler, The Girl Who Took What She Wanted [Stewart Hoag #14]

Rupert Holmes, Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide [NS]

Gregg Hurwitz, The Last Orphan [Orphan X #8]

Stephen Graham Jones, Don’t Fear the Reaper [Indian Lake #2]

Jonathan Kellerman, Unnatural History [Alex Delaware #38]

Diane Kelly, Primer and Punishment [House-Flipper #5]

Mike Lawson, Alligator Alley [Joe DeMarco #16]

G.M. Malliet, Invitation to a Killer [Augusta Hawke #2]

J.D. Robb, Encore in Death [Eve Dallas #56]

Michael Robotham, Lying Beside You [Cyrus Haven #3]

Tom Rob Smith, Cold People [NS]

Charles Todd, The Cliff’s Edge [Bess Crawford #13] 

Customers Recommend

Everyone, it seems, has their own list of “best books” of the year.

Customer, friend, and mystery blogger Marilyn Brooks of Needham, Massachusetts, shares with us her personal favorites from 2022:

Best movies, best television shows, best podcasts. Now it’s time for my list of best mysteries of the past year.

As always, my choices for the best of the best are a mix of domestic and foreign mysteries–police procedurals, private detectives, and amateur sleuths. Interestingly though and for the first time, more than half of the 14 books take place either partly or totally outside the United States.

That statistic definitely speaks not only to the increasingly important role that mysteries/thrillers/crime novels play in today’s publishing business but also to how widely the genre has reached across the globe. Certainly, even 10 or 15 years ago, a grouping such as this would have consisted almost exclusively of American mysteries, with perhaps a British one or two completing the list. But notice the various countries that have a place on my list now.

The Gatekeeper, James Byrne (Algeria/United States)

Girls Who Lie, Eva Björg Egisdóttir (England/Iceland)

Look Closer, David Ellis (England)

Silent Parade, Keigo Higashino (Japan)

Portrait of a Thief, Grace Li (United States/China)

The Dying Day, Vaseem Khan (India)

Gone By Morning, Michele Weinstat Miller (United States)

The Shadows of Men, Abir Mukherjee (India)

Do No Harm, Robert Pobi (United States)

Die Around Sundown, Mark Pryor (Germany)

The Left-Handed Twin, Thomas Perry (United States)

Killers of a Certain Age, Deanna Raybourn (England/Europe/Caribbean)

• Cold As Hell, Lilja Sigurdadóttir (Iceland)

Nine Lives, Peter Swanson (United States)

All of these novels, not surprisingly, are reviewed on my blog (www.marilynsmysteryreads.com). I invite you to take a peek at my reviews; hopefully, you’ll be intrigued enough to read one, several, or even all of them. I promise that regardless of the book(s) you choose, you are in for a treat.

Whether you wish to weigh in on your year’s top books–or a review of a single favorite–you’re welcome to share your enjoyment of mysteries here. Write to us at info@mainelymurders.com (subject line: customer recommendation). Our policy is to print only favorable reviews. There are so many wonderful books out there, we choose to share only the positive.

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.