What I'm Reading by Sian - The Missing Clue - October 2017

First off, many apologies for the delayed newsletter again. Turns out a teething baby who isn’t a good sleeper is not a recipe for a prompt newsletter. We’ll be in Winnipeg for a few weeks in November and December though, so I hope you’ll come by and say hi.

            It was my intention to write a long meaty piece a la Jack about Sherlock Holmes pastiches featuring female protagonists, but please see aforementioned teething non-sleeping baby as well as the fact that one of the books that I want to feature is a front-runner for my Book of the Year (let that be a hint). So expect that from me in February.

            We were on vacation for two weeks in August, so despite the fact that going on vacation with an infant is really just not sleeping in another place, I did manage to get quite a lot of reading done. A customer recommended Anne Perry’s ‘Charlotte and Thomas Pitt’ series to me and when I finally got around to reading the first in the series, The Cater Street Hangman (in stock, used mass market), I wondered why I hadn’t read this series yet, as it is just up my alley (thank you for the recommendation!). There’s little I enjoy more than a smart Victorian woman who does the unexpected and I’m delighted that I have another 31 books to look forward to. I sometimes struggle with books where the narration bounces around among characters, but so far I’m enjoying getting to know Charlotte and her loved ones. If you’ve been meaning to dip into Anne Perry, we’ve got lots of options in used (40 titles at time of printing). If you think you’ve read something that I would enjoy, please don’t hesitate to recommend it!

            I was lucky enough to receive a box of books two days before Penelope was born and I’m ashamed to admit that I’m still working through it. I did however just manage to read several more from that To Be Read pile, including Measured for Murder (available to order, trade paperback) by Janet Brons. This is the third book in her ‘Forsyth and Hay’ series and I really enjoy them. They are fairly short books (this one was 192 pages) and somewhat sparsely written, but they are a quick read and maybe something worth recommending to someone who isn’t a very strong reader. There is murder (obviously) as well as romance, British police, and…Canadian diplomatic politics. Something for everyone, right?

            In that same box was Benedict Jacka’s Bound (in stock, mass market $10.99), book #8 in his Alex Verus series. I’ll admit that I was putting off reading this one because the series was starting to take on a whiff of Jim Butcher’s ‘Dresden Files’ series where it just seemed like endless drama and bad news for our protagonist. That certainly continues to be the case, but I felt like this title finally started moving the story forward a bit more. I’m not sure if it’s this crazy political climate we’re in, but I’m enjoying stories featuring background political machinations, and Bound features those in spades. Book #9, Marked, is coming in June of 2018 in mass market (which is nice to see a series stay in the smaller size and not make the jump to a pricey hardcover).

            Speaking of books moving to pricey hardcover…Caro Peacock’s ‘Liberty Lane’ series switched publishers to Severn House between book #3 and #4. This was good news, as there had been a two year break in the series and Severn House likely kept the series going. The bad news in Severn House titles are inconsistently scheduled and their hardcovers are extremely pricey.  Please know that we do the same mental math that you do when your favorite series moves to hardcover, especially now that hardcovers have got more expensive again. The trouble with Severn House is that it’s not always just a question of waiting for the trade paperback or mass market, so sometimes you bite the bullet and pay the money. In Friends in High Places (in store, new and used trade paperback), Peacock had Liberty Lane finally resolving matters with her gentleman friend. Fool’s Gold (available to order, hardcover) begins with the couple on their honeymoon, but Peacock contrives to ship the husband out of the country (and away from the action) so as not to get in Lane’s crime solving way.

            I have a nice stack of books waiting for me at the store including Tasha Alexander’s Death in St. Petersburg (Lady Emily #12, hardcover $36.99) and Will Thomas’ Old Scores (Barker & Llewelyn #9, hardcover $36.99) and by the time I arrive The Book of Dust (hardcover) by Philip Pullman will have arrived. The question in regards to the Pullman is whether I should re-read the His Dark Materials trilogy again before I read The Book of Dust. Pullman is not calling it a prequel or a sequel but rather an ‘equel’ set in the same world. I found the original series completely captivating and heartrending when I read them almost 20 years ago, so I suspect a reread is in order.

            I have a shortlist of titles to consider for my 2017 Book of the Year, not to mention any of the above titles that could sneak their way into consideration. Any guesses on what any Bumsted’s might choose?

Holiday Orders - The Missing Clue - October 2017

Wendy mentioned the slew of Christmas cozies we’ve already got on our shelves, which is just another reminder that the holiday season is barreling towards us. We’re grateful that so many of you make Whodunit a part of your holiday shopping. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1)      We can order any book that is commercially available for you, regardless of whether or not it is a mystery. You’ll still get stamps too! Some books can be ordered and received within a few days, but some take longer, especially as we get into December. If you have special orders in mind, the earlier the better. You can check our webstore (https://bookmanager.com/117455x/) for title availability, but keep in mind prices and timing may be subject to change.

2)      If there’s a title that you’ve got on your wishlist and you think someone might come shopping for you, don’t be afraid to let us know! We’re always happy to make recommendations, but we can point your Santa to exactly what you’re dying to read if you tell us.

3)      We’ve got gift cards! Gift cards can be purchased in any denomination and we’ll be happy to tuck them in with a newsletter or a book.

4)      Don’t forget the webstore! Your intrepid newsletter editor has lots of work on the website still to do, but our webstore shows our live inventory along with price and format. Find something you want? You can reserve a copy of a book we’ve got in store or that you would like to order without having to pay upfront. We’ll be happy to show you how the webstore works if you need help.

Introducing...Samantha - The Missing Clue - October 2017

Hey there, I'm Sam. I'm the newest staff member at Whodunit? Mystery Book Store, so you've probably seen me hanging around on occasion if you've ever stopped by since I started. I've been pretty passionate about books since I was 12, and I find I just love working with them, and around them, as well as reading them. This being the case, managing to find myself a job at a bookstore just seemed perfect. The best thing about working in a bookstore is, to point out the obvious... books! Other than that, though, it's also really great to meet and talk to fellow book lovers, as well as to broaden my interests. I haven't actually read a lot of mystery books yet, so I haven't got a lot to recommend, but I'm starting to read more of them. I could probably recommend more books from the Kids/Teen/Young Adult section right now than I could the rest of the store.

For many years, I found trying to pick a favourite book impossible. It was like I was trying to pick a favourite child, I just couldn't; that was until a few years ago when I came across Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I never thought anyone could form such a deep, emotional connection to a book before I had read it, but it appears it is possible. I'm actually not sure which books I've re-read the most. I think it's a tie between a couple of series and Thirteen Reasons Why. The two series I've read more than once are ‘House of Night’ by P.C. and Kristen Cast, and ‘Morganville Vampires’ by Rachel Caine; both of which happen to be about vampires. Since working here, I've actually only finished one book, which is Sisters of the Night, edited by Barbara Hambly and Martin H. Greenberg (surprise, surprise, it's also about vampires! Us younger folks and our vampire books, yikes). However, I'm currently reading three books at the same time: Penance of the Damned by Peter Tremayne; Against A Darkening Sky by Lauren B. Davis; and I'm also re-reading Awakened (HoN book #8) by P.C. and Kristen Cast. If I'm honest, I'm struggling not to start yet another book. At this rate, I'll never finish them all.

Fall Reading by Wendy - The Missing Clue - October 2017

While I was collecting books for this newsletter piece, I ended up picking up a couple of books that exemplify what is to me the most annoying current trend in publishing – the book that starts as if you have literally just turned the page on the last chapter of the previous book. I am actually a huge fan of the back story, in fact there are some series I continue to read just for the back story but this is ridiculous. I do not see how anyone can be expected to remember very precise details of a book that was probably read at least a year ago. I am grasping to find an explanation and frankly I have not found a feasible one.

I have not read any other titles by George Mann, and he has written a number of different series, some of which fall into our crossover category, but I thoroughly enjoyed Wychwood, (in stock, trade paper, $19.95) which is I hope the first in a new series. The main character, Elspeth Reeves has just lost her job as a reporter in London and simultaneously broken up with her boyfriend, as a result she is heading back to her mother’s house in the village of Wilsby -under- Wychwood. A traffic snarl up on the way home is the result of a body having been found in the woods behind her mother’s house, and needless to say this piques Elspeth’s attention.

I have been a fan of James Craig, ever since his Inspector Carlyle series started appearing in print as opposed to being ebooks. The latest title, number ten in the series is Acts of Violence, (in stock, trade paper, $15.99). The plot like the previous titles always appears very current this time it involves uber wealthy Chinese who live in Chelsea and yet seem very separate from the milieu. As I have said before, I like Carlyle because he is relatable. He has a normal, happy life, a wife, who works for a charity, a teenage daughter, he goes to the pub but does not drink to excess. Life is not picture book perfect he has grumbles about his job, his bosses, worries about his father’s health but it always feels real. This series is worth a try if you have not read it before and while the back story moves on in each book it is not a barrier to enjoying the story.

Harry Bingham’s ‘Fiona Griffiths’ is another series I really enjoy. The main character is a detective constable in the South Wales police force based in Cardiff. In the latest title, The Deepest Grave, (in stock, trade paper, $24.99) an archaeologist is found dead, decapitated by an antique sword at an iron age fort site she is in charge of excavating. Griffiths is a complex character who has her own demons most of which revolve around the origins of her birth. This is another good contemporary series with believable characters.

Peter May’s ‘Enzo Macleod’ series published between 2006 and 2011, was originally five books long. The series has been re-issued in trade paper over the last eighteen months. The fifth book Blowback, was published at the beginning of September. May has now extended the series with the publication of a sixth novel, Cast Iron, (in stock, hardcover, $32.49). May’s very first series set in China is being re-released and The Firemaker will be available in North America in January (on order, trade paper, $19.49).

Anna Lee Huber author of the very popular ‘Lady Darby’ mysteries has a new series. In 1919, Verity Kent, thought that no one knew that she had been part of Britain’s Secret Service during the hostilities but someone knows. While grieving for her husband Sidney killed in action, Verity is faced with the fact that nothing is as it seems and maybe her husband was not the honorable man she believed him to be, This Side of Murder (in stock, trade paper, $16.95)

One of my longtime favorite authors is Michael Pearce. I think I have read every one of the ‘Mamur Zapt’ books, now numbering nineteen, set in Egypt at the beginning of the twentieth century. He has a couple of other shorter series and one of them ‘Seymour of Special Branch’ is in the process of being re-released. The period is roughly the same as the ‘Mamur Zapt’ books. The first title A Dead Man in Trieste, (in stock tp $15.99) is set in 1906, and the British counsel has gone missing. The Foreign Office send Seymour, a member of the Special Branch, who has by his talents rather than birth risen up through the ranks of the Metropolitan Police, to find out what is going on, The Foreign Office pooh bahs look down on Seymour as not being one of us. Pearce writes with a light touch and the series is very entertaining but also like the Mamur Zapt books a lot can be learned about the political situation in Eastern Europe and the Middle East in the decade before WWI. Titles will be released over the next two months in trade paper at $15.99.

The end of September brought us a number of Christmas themed books! Frankly, I think this is way too early but if you like to have a Christmas cosy at Christmas you might like to check them out. Leslie Meier’s Holiday Murder, (in stock, mass market, $10.95) this volume contains two of Leslie Meier’s earlier Christmas titles Mistletoe Murder and Christmas Cooke Murder. There will be a new Lucy Stone title for Christmas: Eggnog Murder (on order, mass market, $8.99) will be released at the beginning of November. Hannah Swensen is still busy baking in Joanne Fluke’s Christmas Caramel Murder (in stock, mass market, $8.99) and there are a dozen recipes for you to try. Alex Erickson’s Bookstore Café is serving Death By Eggnog, (in stock, mass market, $8.99) the fifth title in this engaging series and Jennifer David Hesse is promising Yuletide Homicide (in stock, mass market, $8.99) in the third Wiccan Wheel Mystery.

Check the October and November Book lists for more Christmas specific titles.

TV Alert: I have seen some of the trailers for the British TV series ‘Strike’ which is based on the first two Robert Galbraith novels, The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. It was shown in the UK last month, so hopefully we will see it here soon.

Recent Events - The Missing Clue - October 2017

This autumn, we have been very happy to welcome two different authors. First, we had a drop-in visit with Gail Bowen, who was, as always, a wonderful guest. She was happy to talk about her books, the latest of which The Winner’s Circle (in stock $32) is in hardcover. She also let us know that she will be releasing a new book called Sleuth, which is a reflection on her experience writing crime fiction.

Our launch event with Jana Rieger for A Course in Deception (in stock, trade paperback $20) followed shortly after, and was a wonderful chance for us to introduce customers to a new Canadian author. Along with her collaborator Toviyah John, Jana entertained a full house with a reading and with an open willingness to answer questions, not just about her book, but also about the process of transitioning a book into other mediums. We look forward to seeing what she has to offer us next.

Stay tuned for more information about what is going on at WhoDunit? this autumn by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

What I'm Reading by Sian - The Missing Clue - August 2017

And I’m back! Thank you all for your patience with our abbreviated newsletter last month. My to-read list grows ever taller, but I’m happy to say I’ve made something of a dent in it.

First up was Plum Sykes Party Girls Die in Pearls (in store in trade paperback), the first book I read after my daughter Penelope was born. I needed something light but smart and witty and it fit the bill beautifully. I’ve said this before in this space, I really like books where there’s a romantic element but it isn’t something that drives the plot. Ursula Flowerbutton is like my beloved Flora Poste of Cold Comfort Farm and I can’t wait to read more about her adventures at Oxford. You’ll hear it here first when the next one is scheduled.

I had been looking forward to Darcie Wilde’s A Purely Private Matter (in store in trade paperback) and it didn’t disappoint. It was a worthy sequel to A Useful Woman (in store in trade paperback), although it did end with a continuing romantic loose end which I find a little tedious. No third book scheduled, so hopefully we won’t have to wait too long.

Julie McElwain’s A Murder in Time (in store) finally came out in trade paperback so I will continue to wholeheartedly recommend that title as well as the sequel, A Twist in Time (available to order), available so far in hardcover. Both books are lovely and long, which makes them perfect summer reads. Don’t let the time travel element put you off, while it’s a central plot point it’s not at all sci fi like.

David Morrell’s ‘Thomas De Quincey Mystery’ series gets better and better with book #3, Ruler of the Night (available to order), an excellent addition. This is not a light series, there is violence, but it’s so interesting. Thomas De Quincey has many flaws, but Morell paints him with such humanity and compassion, not to mention his brilliant and devoted daughter Emily. This is a series to have at the ready on a dark and gloomy weekend. The first two books, Murder as a Fine Art (in store) and Inspector of the Dead (available to order) are available in trade paperback while Ruler of the Night is still just in hardcover (the trade paperback is coming in November).

Every member of the Bumsted family has their strengths in the store and mine is tidying the used shelves (so you’ll have noticed if you’ve been in the last few weeks how tidy they are!). One of the reasons I love that task is that I always find a new series or two while I’m moving books around as it encourages me to look at titles I don’t normally notice. Last time I visited I picked up the first book in Sujata Massey’s ‘Rei Shimura’ series. Sometimes books from the 90s can feel dated because of the transition to technology (it seems odd not to have a smart phone, for example), but because The Salaryman’s Wife (available to order in mass market) is set in Japan, I was distracted enough by the setting not to notice. Rei is a stubborn and independent young woman trying to make her way in Japan, where her Japanase American parentage makes her not sufficiently Japanese for many people. I’m on book #4, The Floating Girl (available in store in used mass market), and I’m learning a ton about Japanese culture. There are 11 books in the series. Massey has a new series launching in January featuring Perveen Mistry, a young female lawyer in 1920s Bombay. The first book is called The Widows of Malabar Hill and I’ve already got my copy reserved!

Speaking of books I’ve reserved, I’m also looking forward to Anna Lee Huber’s (of the ‘Lady Darby Mystery’ series) new series featuring Verity Kent called This Side of Murder, set in post WWI England coming in trade paperback in September. Then in October in hardcover is Death in St. Petersburg, book #12 in Tasha Alexander’s ‘Lady Emily’ series. Also in October, although I sense this may be my Boxing Day read, is the new book in the ‘His Dark Materials’ universe, Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust.

As Seen on TV (sort of) by Wendy -The Missing Clue - August 2017

While Sian and her wonderful new daughter Penelope have been visiting, Sian introduced me to a British quiz show called Pointless. Don’t ask me what the app is that gets this because, honestly, I have no idea (editors note: it’s called Filmon Television). I mention Pointless because last week’s celebrity round featured some mystery writers, Mark Billingham, Val McDermid and Tony Parsons. This gave me a hook for this month’s piece.

Mark Billingham was wearing a very country and western outfit and it seems that he is part of a country and western group, as well as being a standup comic in his spare time. His main series is the Tom Thorne series, the 14th title in the series Love Like Blood (trade paper $22.99) will be in the store on August 15th. We also have a spin off from the main series, featuring D.I. Tanner, Die of Shame, (trade paper $15.99).

Val McDermid is a major force in the British crime fiction scene, in addition to her own writing she was the founder of the Harrogate Mystery Conference, which has become one of the pre-eminent conferences in the United Kingdom. The conference has a number of awards including the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award. The winner receives £3000 and a small hand-carved oak beer cask carved by one of Britain's last surviving coopers. Old Peculiar is Theakstons most popular beer. McDermid’s next new title to be published in Canada is Insidious Intent, the 10th Carol Jordan and Tony Hill title which the will be published in December in hard cover. December also sees the publication of the trade paper of the 4th Karen Pirie title Out of Bounds ($24.95) She does have two anthologies coming this fall, Bloody Scotland, is a collection of stories by major Scotish crime writers; the stories are set between the Iron Age and the present day. Murder on Christmas Eve, is a collection of Christmas stories by writers from the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, we have not yet found a North American distributor for either of these titles but we are working on it.

Tony Parsons writes the Max Wolfe series this is a newer much shorter series. The main character Max Wolfe is a London police detective and as a single father adds a different dimension to the stories. The first novel in the series was The Murder Bag, published in 2014. The fourth title Die Last is arriving imminently. It is based on a relevant topic of people smuggling.

A few other new books which are good summer reads, Connie Willis, Crosstalk, (tp $24), M.C. Beaton’s latest Agatha Raisin, Pushing Up Daisies (mm $10.99) Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies (mm$12.99) which was recently a TV series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, we also have Moriarty’s newest title The Husband’s Secret (mm$12.99). This is also a good time to check out our used section as we have some great used titles at the moment. A good way of finding a new author or filling in gaps in existing series. Feel free to ask for recommendations based on what we have in stock.

Authors Starting Anew by Michael - The Missing Clue - August 2017 -

2017, for many notable writers, seems to be the year to try something fresh. For some, it is a new character in a familiar setting. Most of you will already be aware of Arnauldur Indridason’s new novel The Shadow District (in stock in trade paperback), if mostly because the mystery set in wartime Rekjavik is known originally by the more local friendly title Man from Manitoba. Regardless of its title, Indridason is setting up these characters to be part of what is described as a “major new series”.

Kathy Reichs Two Nights (in stock in hardcover) is an even greater departure from her comfort zone as it marks her first novel solo effort that does not involve Temperance Brennan and the “Bones” franchise. Whether this marks the end of that series, or whether new heroine Sunday Night will be a recurring character remains to be seen.

Renee Ballard is the heroine of a police procedural set in Michael Connelly’s Hollywood in The Late Show (in stock in hardcover). Like the Indridason, this too is set up to be a regular character, although it remains to be seen whether she will be interacting with his more established characters.

Up and coming British author Gilly Macmillan will be switching from standalones to a police procedural with a new character entitled Odd Child Out (in stock in trade paperback).

One of the more notable changes takes place with Canadian author Linwood Barclay as he makes his children’s series with Chase (in stock in hardcover), a book, quite traditionally, about a boy and his dog. Fellow Canadian, Jenny Nimmo, best known for her Charlie Bone series is starting anew with Henry and the Guardians of the Lost, also for the younger reader.

Finally, further down the road in 2018, we will be seeing one of the more notable shifts, with Anne Perry not only starting a new series, but doing so with a twentieth century (albeit the early portion). She will be introducing Daniel Pitt, son of Thomas and Charlotte in Twenty One Days (April 2018 in hardcover) .

Recent Women Sleuths by Jack - The Missing Clue - August 2017

Women have always been prominent among the writers of crime fiction; Agatha Christie actually had a character, Ariadne Oliver, who was a female writer that she used as a figure of fun. But apart from Christie who had several female sleuths, the remainder of the Golden Age female writers used male protagonists, often linked to females who were the secondary detectives in many of their books. In more recent times, we can find many females, sometimes cops, more often perhaps private eyes or even professionals connected to the criminal justice system.

Probably the most violent of the authors to be considered in this piece is the South African Jassy Mackenzie, whose character Jade de Jong is taught to shoot by her father beginning at age 13. There is a gap of ten years in Jade’s life, but the hint is that she has done a variety of nasty stuff and she certainly re-enters South Africa with several bangs. Not surprisingly, the villain Jade is after in Random Violence (in stock in trade paperback) has homeowners murdered so that their property can be bought at a rock bottom price. In the end, things get pretty gory.

The American writer Linda Fairstein has created a series featuring an Assistant District Attorney in New York City. Alexandra Cooper likes to keep her nose close to the ground of the cases she technically has nothing to do with. But she occasionally gets caught up in the them. Such is certainly the case in Deadfall (available to order in hardcover) when her boss gets bumped off in her arms. She has two police assistants to help her solve the case.

One of the problems with focusing on gendered authors is that husband and wife teams really mess you up, as in the case of Nicci French (aka, Nicci Gerrard and Sean French). But Frieda Klein is one of my favorite sleuths, working as a psychotherapist which gives her some status in the room without quite turning her into a cop. In Dark Saturday (in stock in trade paperback), Frieda deals with an accusation of murder that has seen a young woman spend 13 years incarcerated for crimes she may or may not have committed. This book is particularly well-plotted with a surprise twist at the end.

Ann Cleeves is one of our more prolific authors. She currently has two series on the go, both now television series as well, one set in the Shetland Islands featuring Detective Jimmy Perez and another set in Northern England featuring DI Vera Stanhope. Vera is by far the more interesting creation. She is older, crankier, and more intuitive than Perez. The two victims in The Moth Catcher (in stock in trade paperback) seem to have in common only a fascination with moths, but it turns out that they have more in common than one might expect. As usual, Vera plunges ahead to come up with a most unlikely solution to a very complicated case.

Margaret Maron began her crime writing career with a series starring a New York Police detective, Sigrid Harald. Sigrid was quirky enough, her boyfriend was a successful artist more than twice her age. At some point in the series Maron moves into the South and shifts her locale and her protagonist. Personally, I always regretted the shift since I found that Judge Deborah Knott was much less interesting than the quirky New York cop that had preceded her. Maron has returned to Sigrid for one last hurrah in Take Out (in stock in hardcover). The famous artist boyfriend is dead (auto accident), leaving Sigrid as executor of his estate. This one has an interesting method of killing: two homeless men are given a free meal which turns out to be dosed with Warfarin. The case leads Sigrid into the thickets of a small New York City neighbourhood which features the widow of a mobster who lives next door to his mistress. It only gets more complicated from there.

Rhys Bowen has specialized for many years in “soft” crime fiction. She set a number of cases in the Highlands of Scotland, but more recently has been extremely successful with her Her Royal Spyness, featuring Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, an impecunious member of the Royal Family who moves from one job to another in her search for steady employment. In Crowned and Dangerous (in stock in mass market), the latest installment of this very popular series, Lady Georgiana is in the process of eloping with her Irish Catholic boyfriend when the couple is brought up short by the information that Darcy’s father is suspected of murder. Elopement is put on hold while they solve the mystery and away we go!

Mystery Reading Club - The Missing Clue - October 2017

The theme for Fall 2017 will be France.  The books are available for purchase in store now. New members are cordially invited to join the fun.

Tuesday, October 24th – Murder in the Marais by Cara Black

Tuesday, November 28th – The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas

We know that some non-members of the group do read the assigned titles. If you would like to have the questions that Jack writes, please let Wendy know (via email, phone, or in person). Books will be available for purchase at the store and feature a 10% discount.

The Missing Clue - June 2017 - What Wendy is Reading

I think it is impossible to find a series, where one likes every title. Although interestingly enough, readers do not necessarily agree on which titles are disappointing. I have sometimes had to hold my tongue when customers say how much they enjoyed a title when I hated it and vice versa. Sometimes it is difficult to go back to the series after a disappointing read. I have just finished reading the latest Elly Griffith book, The Chalk Pit (9th in the Ruth Galloway series, HC $39) and I really enjoyed it. I thought that the previous title The Woman in Blue was also excellent. If you have not read this series it is well worth a try. The main character is an archaeologist based in Norfolk in England.

Anthony Horowitz is an author I had not read before, but I really enjoyed his latest offering The Magpie Murders (TP, $22.99). It has an interesting construct in that there is a novel inside a novel. There is a classic village murder ala Agatha Christie built around a contemporary whodunit.

In a different vein is Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent. The book, set in London in 1893, starts when Cora Seaborne is widowed. She has for much of her marriage to lawyer Michael Seaborne been a square peg in a round hall. His death liberates her and with her son Francis, and her maid/companion Martha she retreats to Colchester to pursue her interest in palaeontology. There she hears about the mythical Essex Serpent and then as they say the plot thickens.

Back to where I started this piece, the question of series. I have just rediscovered (thanks to our used shelves) a series that I used to enjoy very much, Janet Laurence’s ‘Darina Lisle’ series. The main character is a food writer. Summer is a good time to try new things and the used shelves are an excellent place to start. Thanks to a few customers who have been downsizing we have a number of almost complete runs of series. So you can either try something new or fill in any gaps in a series that you love or have like me with the Janet Laurence series lost track of.

The Missing Clue - April 2017 - Mystery Reading Club

The book club will be finishing Asian Historical crime fiction in April. The theme for May and June will be Africa, but we can’t announce the titles yet. An email will go out to members and a notice will be posted in store when those titles are available. New members are cordially invited to join the fun.

Tuesday, April 25th – M.J. Carter, The Strangler Vine
Tuesday, May 30th – TBA – Africa
Tuesday, June 27th – TBA - Africa

We know that some non-members of the group do read the assigned titles. If you would like to have the questions that Jack writes, please let Wendy know (via email, phone, or in person). Books will be available for purchase at the store and feature a 10% discount. Questions for discussion should be available a few weeks before the meeting.

The Missing Clue - April 2017 - Spring and Summer Reading Picks by Wendy

With the weather finally perking up a little, my thoughts gravitated towards summer and summer reading. This was in part due to the book that I was reading, Plum Sykes’ Party Girls Die in Pearls. This is Plum Sykes first mystery, launching the ‘Oxford Girl Mystery’ series although she has written a couple of other novels and writes regularly for Vogue magazine. The novel is set in Oxford in the late 1980s. The two main characters, Ursula Flowerbutton and American Nancy Feingold. Both are first year students from somewhat non-traditional backgrounds. It was a really fun read, and for those readers not familiar with 1980s clothing and popular culture the author provides footnotes explaining the reference, I am old enough not to need an explanation of references to various television shows like Dynasty. The book is due for release on May 9th in trade paperback just in time for a good Victoria Day weekend read.

Christina Kovac’s first novel is called The Cutaway. The novel is set in Washington D.C. a place that is probably higher in people’s consciousness these days. The plot revolves around the disappearance of a young female lawyer, she walks out of a fashionable D.C. restaurant and is never seen again. This disappearance catches the attention of a female news producer, Virginia Knightly, at a D.C. television station. Knightly becomes involved in the investigation when it seems that the authorities are not taking it seriously enough. Christine Kovacs was herself a TV journalist who worked on a number of political news shows including Meet the Press. A most enjoyable read with a very believable setting.

Sara Sheridan is a Scottish writer who has written many novels, including a series whose main character is Mirabelle Bevan. The first novel Brighton Belle was originally published in the UK in 2012 but was just released in North America in January of this year. Mirabelle Bevan had worked for British Intelligence during WWII now in 1951 she is living in Brighton, working as a secretary to debt collector, and mourning the death of her wartime boss and lover. When her boss is sick she becomes involved in a routine inquiry but as they say the plot soon thickens and nothing is what it seems. Book #2 in the series, London Calling, was just released in hardcover and is available to order.

Sally Andrew‘s first mystery Recipes for Love and Murder was published in 2015 and is now available in trade paperback. Set in Ladysmith, in the South-eastern part of South Africa, Andrew’s main character Tannie Maria writes the agony aunt column for the local newspaper. This advice column is slightly different as she always includes a recipe. The second novel in the series, The Satanic Mechanic, has just been released, also in trade paperback. It includes the same characters as the previous title. These books present a slightly harsher description of life in Southern Africa, than Alexander McCall Smith’s Botswana series. Andrew herself lives in South Africa and has been an environmental and social activist, themes which are very clear in her books. These are not titles to read when you are hungry.

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss is the first in a new series by Max Wirestone, available in store in trade paperback. Set in present day California Dahlia is an un/underemployed 20 something. Being chronically short of money she agrees to act as a private detective for a friend of a friend who is trying to recover a stolen icon in a video game. I enjoyed the character and the plot but I did find the intricacies of online gaming somewhat beyond me. But it is an enjoyable read. Book #2 in the series, The Astonishing Mistakes of Dahlia Moss, was just released in trade paperback and is available to order.

My book of the year for 2016, Susie Steiner’s Missing, Presumed, will be released in the mass market size on April 25th, ($12.50). Highly recommended. If I haven’t sold you a copy yet and you can’t wait for the mass market, we still have the trade paperback in stock. Also highly recommended Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, is now in a smaller size ($15.99). If you missed either of these the first-time round, great titles to slip into a beach bag or take on a plane.

The Missing Clue - April 2017 - What I'm Reading by Sian

I was lucky enough to spend several weeks in Winnipeg, and at Whodunit? in January and February and was delighted to be able to chat with many of you. I’m grounded now until the baby comes, but don’t worry, Mum is sending me care packages of books and we’ll be around a bunch in the summer and fall.

Genevieve Cogman’s ‘Invisible Library’ series had been on my radar since it was first released, but I never dipped into it, despite it residing on the shelves of Whodunit. I finally picked up a copy of The Invisible Library when I was home in February and I was hooked! I instantly bought The Masked City and The Burning Page and well…burned through them. Librarian/spy Irene’s job is to collect important books from alternate dimensions to house them in the Library. The first book has her sent to a new dimension, an alternate London, with a new assistant in tow but before she even makes it out the door another Librarian is trying to steal her mission. I would classify this series as less literary and whimsical than Jasper Fforde’s ‘Thursday Next’ series, so a little more serious but easier to read. Book #4, The Lost Plot, will be available in November. All available in trade paperback.

Speaking of libraries, I also tried Rachel Caine’s new ‘The Great Library’ series, which begins with Ink and Bone. This one is classified as YA, which is good news as it means the books are cheaper, although the content (and violence) are fairly adult. In this series, the Great Library of Alexandria still exists, personal ownership of books is forbidden, and only the most special young people have the opportunity to test to enter the Library’s services. The main character is a young man and this is a dystopian universe, both of which would often be huge turnoffs for me, but I found myself really enjoying the book. Book #2, Paper and Fire, will be available in trade paperback in May with book #3, Ash and Quill, coming in hardcover in July.

Darcie Wilde’s A Useful Woman was one of my books of the year for 2016 and I’m heartened that many of you took my recommendation (and hopefully enjoyed it). The second book in the series, A Purely Private Matter, is due May 2nd (just a few days before my daughter), so I’m looking forward to receiving it in a post-baby care package (hint hint, Mum).

I’ve eagerly read the first seven books in Benedict Jacka’s ‘Alex Verus’ series, but each book ends of such an increasingly massive cliffhanger than I’m not sure I have the nerve anymore. It feels like poor Alex just can’t catch a break and much like Jim Butcher’s ‘Dresden Files’ it can feel like one catastrophe after another without a pause to develop the characters or story. Still, if book #8 Bound arrived in a care package, I’m pretty sure I’ll read it. Can’t blame a girl for wanting a happy ending once in a while, can you? You can pick up your copy in mass market on April 4th.

I am really looking forward to another 8th book in a series though, May’s release of Caro Peacock’s 8th ‘Liberty Lane’ book Fool’s Gold. This can be a frustrating series to track because the book releases are erratic (often two years apart) and usually in a very expensive hardcover that sometimes take forever to get into trade paperback and sometimes are released in both formats nearly simultaneously. So I can’t suggest you buy the hardcover, although I will, and I’ll be sure to let you know when the trade paperback is available. This is such a smart series with a woman getting by on her own brains and ingenuity, rather than her looks and husband, the same reason I like the Darcie Wilde series.

I am, as ever, open for recommendations on what I should read when I’m on maternity leave. I’m going to have lots of time to read, right?

The Missing Clue - April 2017 - Nain's Book Club Reviews

Turns out having a Nain (Welsh for Grandmother) who owns a bookstore is pretty awesome, especially if she starts a book club for you and sends you books in the mail on a regular basis. Here are a few reviews for her recent picks.

The Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Reviewed by Henry R.

We have been reading a mystery called The Greenglass House. It is set in a big house that is an inn. It is winter vacation but the inn is filled with mysterious guests. Milo, the son of the innkeepers, decides to snoop with the daughter of the cook, Meddy. They want to solve the mystery of a map that Milo finds outside in the snow. We don’t want to spill the beans any more but we are loving the book and think you will too.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Reviewed by Joenna D., age 9

My book is called Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. It’s about a girl that lives in a village with her family. They are poor the only money in the house are two copper coins. The girls name is Minli. Minli wants to change her families fortune. So she goes on a adventure to try to change it. Minli meets creatures that tell her stories about where she is going as she tries to get up to the mountain. I liked the story of the village of the moon rain. In the story there was a village, everybody worked as hard as they could but nothing would grow. Then something happened. It started to rain!! But the rain wasn’t water it was little white balls. The villagers thought they were pearls and started to collect them in baskets. But the other white balls they didn’t collect started to grow into trees, then the villagers realized they weren’t pearls they were seeds! So they planted the seeds to make trees. I think other children my age might like this book.

The Missing Clue - April 2017 - Whodunit Frequently Asked Questions

Jack and Michael needed a break this month to work on some other projects (something about a textbook…) so we gave them this newsletter off and decided to answer some of the questions we’re often asked about goings on about the store.

Are you buying used books?

Yes! Except when we’re not! And only by appointment! Clear as mud, right? We’re trying to be more mindful of the space available to us and thus be more selective in the books we bring in, even as used. So that means we’re being a lot pickier about what we buy. If we’re sitting on copies of the book already, for example, we may have to say no. Still, always check in with us first. The easiest thing to do is send Michael (our Chief Book Buyer) an email (mystery@whodunitcanada.com) and give us some information about what you’re looking to sell. You needn’t type out a list of books, but the authors and formats (mass market or trade paperback) is useful. You can also call Michael at the store (204.284.9100) and talk about what you’ve got and he’ll set up an appointment from there.

Why don’t you buy used hardcovers?

We don’t buy used hardcovers because you don’t buy used hardcovers. We have shelves of used hardcovers, most in beautiful condition and affordably priced and they just don’t make their way off the shelves. Next time you’re looking for something specific, especially if it’s hard to find, check out the hardcover shelf (in the back corridor) or ask us to look in the computer to see if the book you’re looking for is available in hardcover.

Is Jack in?

As much as Jack is trying to keep to a regular schedule at the store, the intricacies of HandiTransit and wheelchair living mean that his plans change,  sometimes at the last minute. If you particularly want to chat with Jack, give the store a call first to find out if he’ll be in. We know he gives the best recommendations and many of you have come to trust him, so we’re never offended if you’re looking for him specifically. (Plus he’s so lovably grumpy!)

Can you order me a book? Even if it’s not a mystery?

Not only can we, we would LOVE to. We can order just about any book commercially available that’s still in print. You can either order by phone, email, in store, or through our Webstore (http://bookmanager.com/117455x/?q=h). We never require you to pay up front, even on the Webstore, although we will make sure you know the price and the timeline for the order coming in before you pull the trigger. Then we’ll call or email you, depending on your preference, when your order arrives. If you’re looking to ship a book somewhere, particularly through the webstore, we’ll get back to you with the postal costs.

I thought you were a mystery bookstore. Why do I see so many picture books and science fiction/fantasy?

The best thing about owning your own bookstore is that you can sell whatever you want. We want to sell you books that we love and that we think you’ll love too, so that increasingly means picture books for kids (approved by Jack and Wendy’s own grandchildren) and the science fiction and fantasy titles that we’re all enjoying. More often than not there will be a criminous or mysterious element, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves (have you met King Baby?).

The Missing Clue - April 2017 - Authors for Indies

Authors For Indies: Saturday, April 29th

For the third year in a row, we are proud to be involved in Authors for Indies! This year it will be held on Saturday, the 29th of April, and we will be happily announcing more details soon.  One exciting addition to this year is an increased participation from the publishers.  Follow us on Facebook, twitter, or by visiting the store for more information about the offers and details of the day! We’ll also send out an email blast closer to the date to remind you.

The Missing Clue - February 2017 - February 2017 Used Book Sale

Don’t forget! Friday, February 17th to Sunday, February 19th, all used books will be 50% off. Please note, any used books being held behind the counter on those days will be charged at full price with no discount offered. If we’re holding something for you (new or used) that you no longer require, please let us know so we can send it back into the wilds of the store.

The Missing Clue - February 2017 - Mystery Reading Club

The book club will be spending the winter examining Asian Historical crime fiction. New members are cordially invited to join the fun.

*PLEASE NOTE CHANGES TO DATES*

Tuesday, February 21st – Elsa Hart, Jade Dragon Mountain

Tuesday, March 28th – I.J. Parker, The Dragon Scroll

Tuesday, April 25th – M.J. Carter, The Strangler Vine

We know that some non-members of the group do read the assigned titles. If you would like to have the questions that Jack writes, please let Wendy know (via email, phone, or in person). Books will be available for purchase at the store and feature a 10% discount. Questions for discussion should be available a few weeks before the meeting. We’ll be heading south of the equator for May and June to catch up with their winter months.