January 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.

Grace F. Edwards, born January 3, 1933, in New York City, was, in addition to being a mystery writer, director of the Harlem Writers Guild. She died in 2020, in Harlem, where she was born and spent much of her life.

Wilkie Collins, author of The Woman in White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868) among others, was born in London on January 8, 1824. He died in 1889, having written some of the earliest "mystery" novels.

Manfred B. Lee, born in Brooklyn on January 11, 1905, was one of the two cousins who were Ellery Queen for 42 years, until Lee's death in 1971. Through their anthologies and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, they were the major influence on mystery short stories in America. Their novels and short stories about Ellery Queen provided reading and viewing pleasure to generations.

Amanda Cross, a noted feminist academic (Carolyn Heilbrun), was the queen of American academic mystery writers. Born on January 13, 1926, in East Orange, New Jersey, she was the first woman to get tenure in the Columbia University English Department. Her mysteries reflect her feminist beliefs and are often extremely critical of universities' treatment of women. She died in 2003.

Edgar Allan Poe, the father of detective fiction, was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston. His The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) is recognized as the first detective story. Since 1946 the Edgars, awarded each year by the Mystery Writers of America, honor the best in the genre and his memory. He died in 1849.

Patricia Highsmith, best known for her dark psychological mysteries, was born in Texas on January 19, 1921. The author, who spent most of her life living abroad, was

best known for her Strangers on the Train (1950) and later her series featuring Tom Ripley. She died in 1995.


Signed Firsts

Signed first editions have long been held in high esteem by book lovers. Many of us have our own, if limited, collections.


While from the beginning our inventory has been focused on readers, not collectors, we do have some special finds. Signed, mylar-covered first editions of authors Louise Penny, Tess Gerritsen, Lee Child, David BaldacciMichael ConnellyRobert 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.


Maine Has Bookstores For Everyone

Maine has something for everyoneincluding 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!


The last remnants of the holidays have been cleared away. Throughout December, you arrived with cookies, candy, flowers, gifts, etc., but, mostly you arrived in search of books--for those on your shopping list, as well as yourselves.

Between pre-holiday gift buying and four days after-Christmas inventory reduction sale, our shelves were looking pretty thin as we shut the doors on 2022 yesterday afternoon.

As we’ve intimated over the last few months, the future of Mainely Murders is in flux. Everything is on the table: Are we going to reopen? If so, when and for how long? Is our health up to running the shop?

In the meantime, it’s winter and that means we’re in full-blown travel planning. We’ll let you know about that next month. 

Winter Well. Happy Reading!

Ann and Paula

Partners in Crime

P.S. Mystery enthusiast Linda Healey of Yarmouth has been collecting the quotes of famous fictional crime solvers. Two appear below—with, hopefully, more to come in future issues. Thanks, Linda.


What We’re Reading 

With the busy holidays behind us, we know what we’ll be reading in the days ahead--all those books we haven’t had time for in the last few months. 

Many are recent releases. Ann’s bedside to-be-read pile includes C.J. Tuder’s The Drift about three groups of people in precarious situations, but only one includes a killer; Tracy Clark’s Hide about a black woman detective in Chicago who’s getting a little too close to some very bad people; and Thomas Perry’s Murder Book, a standalone from one of her favorite authors.

Paula uses her winters to re-visit the classics. Sometimes she selects a single author--one year it was Rex Stout--reading his or her entire output. (For Stout, she read through the nearly 50 Nero Wolfe titles.)

This year, she’s decided to take on, not a single author, but, rather, books inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle and his most famous character, Sherlock Holmes. Pastiches--books inspired by or which include Sherlock Holmes as a character--abound. 

Most of us “discovered” Holmes via the Conan Doyle originals, including A Study in Scarlet (1887), in which Holmes made his debut. In all, there were four books and 56 short stories.

Paula’s favorite of what we call “Sherlockiana” is the Laurie R. King series that introduced (in The Beekeeper’s Apprentice) Mary Russell, who would eventually become Holmes student, partner, and, later, wife.

So, while some people have a to-be-read pile of books, Paula is looking at several shelves of possibilities.

For many of us--especially those in northern climates--winter is prime reading season. We’d like to hear about your winter reading plans. Looking forward to catching up with your favorite authors? (“How did I miss that one?”) Exploring the classics--whether for the first time or “re-visiting”? Or, maybe, working your way through that to-be-read pile next to your favorite chair or on your bedside nightstand?

Tell us about your reading plans for the months ahead. Write to us at info@mainelymurders.com (subject line: winter reading).

Our Traveling Book Bag

The last time we heard from customers Sue Foye (pictured here) and Ann Boulanger (the woman behind the camera), they were in Nordkapp, Norway, the country’s most northern point. Indeed, the northernmost point in all of Europe. 

This fall, they sent this from the Glacier Express, a direct train connecting railway stations of the two major mountain resorts of Zermatt and St. Moritz via Andermatt in the central Swiss Alps.

These women know how to travel. And, always in style, with their Mainely Murders book bag.


Q: Do people still read Agatha Christie?

A: Yes. Indeed, we sell hundreds of Christie titles every year, making her by far the bestselling of all our classic mysteries. Our Agatha Christie-theme grab bags are among our most popular.

Of the author’s 66 mystery novels and 14 short story collections, Miss Jane Marple and Hercules Poirot have long taken center stage. Conservatively numbered at 2 billion copies sold—translated into some 100 languages—Christie’s sales are surpassed only by the Bible and the works of William Shakespeare.

Coming in January

Nearly 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.

Peter Blauner, Picture in the Sand [NS]

Tracy Clark, Hide [Harriet Foster #1]

Max Allan Collins, The Big Bundle [Nate Heller #18]

Colin Cotterill, The Motion Picture Teller [NS]

Maurizio de Giovanni, Winter Swallows [Commissario Ricciardi #10]

Vicki Delany, The Game Is a Footnote [Sherlock Holmes Bookshop #8]

Jessica Fellowes, The Mitford Secret [Mitford Murders #6]

James Grippando, Code 6 [NS]

Jane Harper, Exiles [Aaron Falk #3]

Stephen Hunter, The Bullet Garden [Earl Swagger #4]

Mary Kubica, Just the Nicest Couple [NS]

Lynda La Plante, Dark Rooms [Jane Tennison #8]

Alyssa Maxwell, A Fashionable Fatality [Lady and Lady’s Maid #8]

Thomas Perry, Murder Book [NS]

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, The Cabinet of Dr. Leng [Agent Pendergast #21]

Laura Joh Rowland, River of Fallen Ages [Victorian Mystery #7]

Sally Spencer, The Final Beat of the Drum [Monika Paniatowski #15]

P.J. Tracy, The Devil You Know [Det. Margaret Nolan #3]

M.J. Trow, Breaking the Circle [Margaret Murray #2]

C.J. Tudor, The Drift [NS]

Customers Recommend

Customer and mystery blogger Marilyn Brooks of Needham, Massachusetts, zeroes in on the latest title by Irishman (and part-time Mainer) John Connolly

The Furies, John Connolly

It’s no small thing for an author to create a sense of unrelenting doom and violence simply by the use of language and mood. This is what John Connolly does in his latest novel, The Sisters Strange, the first of two books in the volume titled The Furies.

Charlie Parker is a private investigator in Portland, Maine, but the story opens in the small Pennsylvania town of Athens. Edwin Ellerkamp has spent his entire life there, a life that is soon to end, not because he is 80 but because of the coin collection he has accrued over the years. When Ellerkamp is found by his part-time housekeeper in the living room of the house he lived in by himself, coins are spilling out of his mouth and onto his chest.

The story switches to Portland. Parker and a friend are drinking in the Great Lost Bear, bemoaning the trendy city that is the new Portland. No more decrepit wharfs on Commercial Street or empty lots on Congress Street, he thinks to himself. But still, some things never change is his next thought, as Raum Buker walks into the bar.

Charlie has known Raum for years, and he has never found anything good to say or think about him. He describes him as a “toxic, inverted deity” who has never forgotten or forgiven a slight, real or imagined.

Now a friend of Charlie’s, Will Quinn, comes to the private eye for help. Will has been dating a woman named Dolors Strange, perhaps the first woman with whom he has ever been romantically involved. That would be fine except that she is also romantically linked to Raum; to make the situation even more bizarre, so is her sister Ambar.

To add to the strangeness of the situation, Dolors tells Will that although she likes him, she doesn’t want to see him any longer, and Will believes it’s because she’s afraid that word will get back to Raum.

Back in Athens, Pennsylvania, Reuben Hapgood is about to open his small store. It’s a shop with a bit of everything of value to collectors, but his specialty is coins. Waiting for him one morning is a man who doesn’t look in the best of health, but his physical appearance is made intimidating by the small pistol he holds in his hand. The man introduces himself as Kepler and tells Hapgood, “I think you may have something that belongs to me.”

It takes a while for readers to make the connection between Charlie Parker, Raum Buker, and Kepler, but John Connolly connects the dots so masterfully that one doesn’t mind waiting. There’s an incredible menacing cloud hanging over all the characters in this novel, and while you may not be certain of just what will happen, you sense it will be really bad.

John Connolly has written another outstanding crime novel with a remarkable protagonist and cast of characters. 

To see what else Marilyn’s been reading lately, check out her blog, www.marilynsmysteryreads.com.

We enjoy hearing what our customers have been reading. If you’d like to share your enjoyment with others, 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.