Bestsellers: January to March 2018 - The Missing Clue - April 2018

   Hard Cover

1.      Alan Bradley – The Grave’s a Fine a Private Place

2.      Donna Leon - Temptation of Forgiveness

3.      Peter May - I’ll Keep You Safe

4.      Cynthia Harrod-Eagles - Shadow Play

5.      Charles Finch - The Woman in the Water

Trade Paper        

1.      Jane Harper - The Dry    

2.      Kerry Greenwood - Cocaine Blues       

3.      Felix Francis - Pulse

4.      Peter May - The Firemaker

5.      Andrea Camilleri - The Pyramid of Mud

Mass Market

1.      M.C. Beaton - Death of a Ghost

2.      Shelton Paige - Of Books and Bagpipes

3.      Cleo Coyle - Dead Cold Brew

4.      Joanne Fluke - Banana Cream Pie Murder

5.       Laura Childs - Pekoe Most Poison

Mystery Reading Club: Spring/Summer 2018 - The Missing Clue - April 2018

For the spring Jack has decided to be a little bit selfish and the group will be exploring the theme “Books that Jack Enjoys”:

Tuesday, April 24th – The Late Show by Michael Connelly

Tuesday, May 29th – London Rain by Nicola Upson

Tuesday, June 26th – Dark Saturday by Nicci French

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. New members are always welcome.

Recent Reading by Wendy - The Missing Clue - April 2018

I have always been exasperated by novels where the heroine (usually the heroine but not always) steps into a darkened room, a hidden passage etc., actions that scream out that they are not the sensible or safe thing to do. So when the blurb on the back of Cass Green’s In a Cottage, in a Wood read, ‘When Neve arrives alone in the dark woods late one night, she finds a sinister looking bungalow with bars across the windows…’you might think that I would not pick it up but for whatever reason I did and thoroughly enjoyed it. Cass Green is an English writer and is usually regarded as part of the Grip Lit group of writers, not usually my cup of tea, but this book a good old fashioned thriller with a very interesting and unexpected twist.

After a twelve-year gap Margaret Maron came back to Lt. Sigrid Harald in Take Out, just released in mass market ($10.49). Sigrid Harald had not completely disappeared as she was seen in a couple of the Judge Deborah Knott novels, including Three Day Town and the The Buzzard Table, when Sigrid and her mother are visiting family in North Carolina. The Judge and the Lieutenant are cousins. Take Out set in New York deals with the poisoning of two men, one of whom was homeless, on a park bench. Although I don’t remember where I read it or maybe heard it, I think this is the end of the Sigrid Harald series just as Long Upon the Land was the last Deborah Knott novel, there is a sense in both of them of I’s being dotted and t’s being crossed, If you have not read either of these series they are well worth a try.

Lynda La Plante has written a new series starting with Tennison, which is a prequel to the Jane Tennison/Prime Suspect series. Set in the early 1970s Jane Tennison has just graduated from the Metropolitan Police Academy and is at her first posting in Hackney. The four titles in the series are being published over the space of the next few months. Tennison is in stock and will be followed in short order by Hidden Killers, Good Friday and Murder Mile.

I must admit that to call After the Snow a mystery is stretching it more than a bit. Susannah Constantine’s novel set in 1969 may have some mysteries in it but so far none of them have involved the staples of the mystery novel. I am not sure why I ordered it, perhaps I was carried away by the comment from Elton John on the front cover “A modern day Nancy Mitford” whatever the reason we have it in stock and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A perfect book to get you through these less than perfect “Spring” days.

Gail Bowen has a new book out. Sleuth is not part of her Joanna Kilbourn series but is a non-fiction guide to mystery writing (in stock TP $18.95). The various chapters lay out the nuts and bolts of constructing a mystery novel, Setting, Characterization, Plot etc. But I think that probably the most important piece of advice to the aspiring writer is in the third chapter called Prewriting Your Mystery. Bowen describes how important it is to use the interstices of your daily life, no matter how short, to think about and plan the story you want to write, so that when you do have the time to sit down to write you already have a good idea of what you want to say. I think that many of our customers if pressed would admit to having or have had an idea for a mystery novel. This book might be just the thing to get on with it. The 18th Joanne Kilbourne novel, A Darkness of the Heart, will be released in hardcover ($32) in August. The 17th novel, The Winners Circle will be available in trade paper ($18) in July.

Sarah Vaughan’s Anatomy of a Scandal, (in stock, trade paper $24.00), tells the story of British M.P. James Whitehouse whose own life and that of his wife, Sophie, descends into chaos and newspaper headlines after he confesses an affair to his wife. This is just the first step in what becomes a major scandal with James ending up being arrested for rape and standing trial at the Old Bailey. The book draws the reader in with the wonderful evocations of Oxford University, Houses of Parliament, the Old Bailey and Brighton at the Annual political party convention time. The novel certainly hits many chords in this era of #MeToo, but there is also an underlying plot of something that happened while James and some of his political associates were at Oxford University. Will both these events the present and the past end up being papered over.

On a lighter note Andrew Cartmel’s first title in the Vinyl Detective series, Written in Dead Wax, has just been released in mass market paperback (in stock $10.99). Cartmel’s main character is an avid and extremely knowledgeable collector of vinyl records. As such his expertise is often called upon to track down various rare and often valuable records. This series is extremely enjoyable with an interesting and quirky cast of characters. The third title in the series, Victory Disc, is due to be released in trade paper on May 8th ($16.95).

 

Ms. Sherlock, Part II: YA by Sian - The Missing Clue - April 2018

In April’s ‘The Missing Clue’, I talked about Sherlock Holmes pastiches featuring women. It turns out that as many as there are for adults, there are at least as many aimed at the young adult (YA) market that adults will find equally engaging. Sherlock Holmes apparently has a sister, a granddaughter, and several nieces, among others, who inherited his gift for solving crimes. Please note, some small spoilers about the identity of the protagonists is necessary to discuss the titles in question (and nothing more than you’d find in the description of each book online) but beware if you really want to be surprised.

            We were lucky enough to host Toronto author Angela Misri for an event at the store a few years back in honour of her ‘Portia Adams’ series. After the death of her mother, 19-year-old Portia is whisked to London in high-style by her mysterious new guardian to 221 Baker Street. At first, she believes herself to be the granddaughter of Dr. John Watson, but it soon becomes clear to the reader that she more closely resembles the great detective himself. The end of JEWEL OF THE THAMES, the first book in the series, reveals that her guardian is Irene Adler and that Adler and Holmes are her grandparents. This is a great series for young Sherlock fans, as there’s no objectionable content. I had fun imagining Irene Adler as an older lady. I thoroughly enjoyed JEWEL OF THE THAMES, and I look forward to reading THRICE BURNED and NO MATTER HOW IMPROBABLE. We’ve got all three in the store in trade paperback.

            It’s hard to imagine Sherlock Holmes having a mother, but if he had a brother, he could just as easily have had a sister. Nancy Springer’s ‘Enola Holmes’ series posits that Mrs. Holmes had a much younger daughter named Enola. On her 14th birthday, Enola’s mother disappears, and she is forced to summon her older brothers Sherlock and Mycroft. When it becomes clear that Sherlock is only focused on finding his estranged mother and Mycroft wants to send her away to school, Enola decides to take matters into her own hands. While lots of Sherlock pastiches feature characters who closely resemble Sherlock, the similarity is less obvious to Enola herself, at any rate. I really liked THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS, the first in the series. I enjoyed the inclusion of Mycroft into the mix, as he is a particular favorite of mine (I’m thinking especially of Laurie R. King’s Mycroft). There are six books in this series, all available to order and most for under $11. It’s a little more sophisticated than the Misri series, but will still appeal to young adult readers as well as grownups. If you enjoy a graphic novel, the first book has been adapted into the format and ENOLA HOLMES: THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS will be released in October 2018.

            A confession here: I never actually finished A STUDY IN SILKS by Emma Jane Holloway. Which is a surprise because it ticks ALL my boxes. It’s a Sherlock Pastiche, starring a woman (in this case Sherlock Holmes’ niece Evelina), and it has a steampunk slant. That said, I’m planning on diving back in because maybe it was an off day. I should also mention that I’m including it in this YA roundup rather than April’s Adult titles because I really felt like it read as YA. At any rate, all three books in the series are available for order in mass market and we’ve got a single copy of A STUDY IN SILKS in used for one lucky reader.

            Another niece and another series I haven’t read, but I’m including it because it’s on my ‘To Read’ pile and we have some in stock. Colleen Gleason’s ‘Stoker & Holmes’ series features Evaline Stoker, sister of Bram, and Mina Holmes, niece of Sherlock, so you can expect vampires and detection of crimes. This is another steampunk series and we’ve got two out of four titles in stock (THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB and THE CHESS QUEEN ENIGMA).

            I started reading THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER because Deanna Raybourn recommended it in her monthly newsletter, without any sense it related to my Sherlock Holmes project at all. And yet Sherlock himself turns up as a major character (if I had to take a guess, he’s meant to be a love interest as the series progresses). But don’t read this book for the Sherlock connection. Read it because it’s really excellent and a clever concept. It’s too complicated a premise to explain in a sentence, but it begins with Dr. Jekyll’s daughter finding Mr. Hyde’s daughter hidden away in a nunnery, paid for by Mrs. Jekyll. It’s got very much the same flavor as my favorite book of 2017, Vivian Shaw’s STRANGE PRACTICE, but with a historical setting. Also not technically YA, but appropriate for older readers on the YA spectrum. We’ve got more copies of THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER en route in trade paperback and we’ll be getting book #2, EUROPEAN TRAVEL FOR THE MONSTROUS GENTLEWOMAN, in July.

            For all the Sherlock Pastiches, very few have contemporary settings. There is Michael Robertson’s ‘Baker Street Letters’ series, of course, but when we think of modern Sherlock retellings, we think immediately of the excellent BBC reimagining starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Charlotte Holmes is a direct descendent of the great detective (her great-great-great-grandfather). Likewise, Jamie Watson is the great-great-great-grandson of Dr. John Watson. When they end up at the same Connecticut boarding school and a classmate is murdered, the inevitable pairing results.

            A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE was one of those books I wasn’t sure if I liked, but I couldn’t put it down and I immediately went out of my way to read the second book (THE LAST OF AUGUST). In fact, very much my reaction to the recent Sherlock TV series. Like the Leonard Goldberg book THE DAUGHTER OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, it somewhat beggars belief to imagine that generations of Holmes, Watsons, and Moriartys behave the same way generation after generation. Still, that’s what make all of these pastiches so fun: imagining what Sherlock Holmes would be like if he weren’t a middle-aged man. The subject matter of these books is dark and there is sex (both consensual and non-consensual) and drugs. If imagining Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock as a young teenage girl makes you uncomfortable, so too will this book. It’s also the kind of book I would have loved to read as a teenage girl, so there you go. The only reason I didn’t bring back a copy of THE CASE FOR JAMIE from my most recent trip to Winnipeg is the degree to which my To Read pile is backlogged. We’ve got A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE in stock in trade paperback, THE LAST OF AUGUST available to order in trade paperback, and THE CASE FOR JAMIE in stock in hardcover.

            I’ll mention here for want of a better place to say it that YA books are usually priced lower than adult books. So THE CASE FOR JAMIE, for example, is a hardcover priced at $21.99 and A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE in trade paperback at $12.50. If you’re looking for some budget reads, we have some excellent young adult titles that will appeal as much to the adult reader, especially as we grow our children’s section in the new store.

Announcements: Canadian Independent Bookstore Day, Farewell Sam, and Our Upcoming Move - The Missing Clue - April 2018

STORE EVENT - Canadian Independent Bookstore Day - April 28th

For the past few years, we have been thrilled to be included in the celebration of bookselling that was held at the end of April called "Authors for Indies".  Well, this event is evolving, and will now be called "Canadian Independent Bookstore Day".  This year it will be on the 28th of April, and there will be authors, and giveaways, and treats, and all sorts of things that you will need to stay tuned to your email, and our social media to find out more about!

Good-bye and Good luck to Sam

It is with a bittersweet feeling that we are saying goodbye to Samantha Wigston.  We know that many of you have also had very positive experiences on the phone and in the store with Sam, and we have enjoyed having her here this autumn and winter.  Sam is heading west, in an effort to reach her goal of living in Vancouver, and we wish her the best of luck!

Store Moving News - Quick FAQ

For those who have missed our posters, Michael's appearances on the radio, or the headline from February's newsletter, we are moving to 163 Lilac St this summer [yes, that's next door].

For those who want to know more, we do too.  However, the reason that we cannot be more specific about when is that we in fact do not know ourselves Beyond Flowers, who are moving out, have had a number of delays with the renovations on their new location, which have made precise dates difficult for both they and us. Nor do we know how long the renovations to the space will take once they have moved out.

What we DO know is that we will be open at 165 Lilac until it is time for us to move the books next door.  How that will happen, and whether we will be accepting the many kind offers of assistance that you have provided, will be answered in June's newsletters.  

Winter and Spring Mystery Reading Club - The Missing Clue - February 2018

The theme for Winter 2018 is Australia.  Books are available now in store. New members are cordially invited to join the fun.

Tuesday, February 27th – The Dry by Jane Harper (available January 2nd, 2018)

Tuesday, March 27th – Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

For the spring Jack has decided to be a little bit selfish and the group will be exploring the theme “Books that Jack Enjoyed”:

Tuesday, April 24th The Late Show by Michael Connelly

Tuesday, May 29th London Rain by Nicola Upson

Tuesday, June 26th – Dark Saturday by Nicci French

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.

Stealing Van Gogh and Other Art Mysteries by Wendy - The Missing Clue - February 2018

One night last week Jack and I watched Andrew Graham-Dixon’s television programme, ‘Stealing Van Gogh’. Graham-Dixon is a British art historian and you may have seen some of his other series which includes one on the art collection of the Royal Family. This programme was different in that it not only talked about Van Gogh’s art but also described a crime which took place in December 2002 and followed the story to its final resolution in September 2016. On December 7th, 2002 a daring robbery took place at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, two smallish Van Gogh’s were stolen. The whole thing took three minutes and 40 seconds, from the time the burglars’ dressed as workmen put up their ladder against the museum wall to when they drove away with their ill- gotten gains. The paintings were retrieved 13 years and nine months later in Naples, Italy. Due to carelessness, he lost his hat during the exit from the museum and the police were able to trace his DNA, one of the burglars was easily apprehended but there was no sign of the paintings. Evidently, valuable paintings are used as currency in the underground drug dealing/crime gang world. If a painting is worth say $14 million dollars, the possessor is able to use about ten percent of its value as collateral for purchasing drugs etc. Possession of stolen art is also often used as a bargaining chip by criminals for reduced sentences. “I’ll give you back the paintings, you can knock x years off my sentence.”

Watching the programme got me thinking about mysteries I had read that involved art. The first one that came to mind, probably because of the title, was A.J. Zerris The Lost Van Gogh, (in stock, used MM, $4). This book starts not with the theft of a Van Gogh but with the return of a missing Van Gogh to the Met in New York, in an ordinary UPS package. Timothy Holme’s, The Neapolitan Streak, was another obvious connection with the television show I had just watched. There are five books in this series featuring Inspector Perini. We have a copy of book #4, The Assisi Murders, in used mass market ($7). Iain Pears has written a number of books with art themes. He has a series which features the Italian National Art Theft Squad and British Art historian Jonathan Argyll. In a classic mystery construct the officials and the amateur, are sometimes working together and sometimes working from opposite ends of the problem. I have really enjoyed this series.

Barbara A. Smith, the thriller writer, has started to write mysteries with an art theme. The first title is The Art Forger (in stock, TP, $16.99) which is based in the Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum in Boston, which itself was the site of spectacular art theft. In March 1990, two men posing as policemen gained entry to the museum, tied up the guards and during the course of the night stole 13 paintings valued at $500 million. Despite the offer of a $10 million reward the paintings have never been recovered. There were suspicions that criminal gangs were involved and the museum has made announcements regarding the way the art work should be treated to preserve its value. Shapiro’s second novel is The Muralist (in stock, TP, $19.99) and the third novel The Collector’s Apprentice will be published in hardcover in October 2018.

Many mystery writers have one title in a series that includes an art theft. The 17th title in John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport series, Invisible Prey is one example (in stock, used mm, $5). The plot in sixth title in A.D. Scott’s Highland Gazette series, A Kind Of Grief, revolves around the death of an artist (in stock, new TP $18.50, used TP $10). In other series art and art related crime are a continuing undercurrent and subplot. The hero of Daniel Silva’s long series is Gabriel Allon an art restorer by trade. Inspector Roderick Alleyn, the main character in Ngaio Marsh is in a relationship and then married to painter Agatha Troy. The sixth title in the series, Artists in Crime, takes place in an art class (in stock, used mm, $6). Marsh died in 1982. There was an unfinished manuscript which has now been completed by Stella Duffy. Money in the Morgue will be published in hardcover in March 2018 ($32.99). This book like Died in the Wool (published 1944), is set in New Zealand during the second World War (in stock, used mm, $5).

The first title in Margaret Maron’s ‘Sigrid Harald’ series, One Coffee With, starts with a murder in a university Art Department (in stock, used mm, $8). There are eight titles in the series that were published between 1981-1995. Because of Harald’s relationship with an artist she meets during the first murder investigation there is an undercurrent of art in most of the other titles. Maron stopped writing this series and moved on to the Judge Deborah Knott series. Maron announced that Long Upon the Land published in 2015 would be the last title in that series (in stock, new mm, $9.49). In 2017 after a 22 year gap, Maron published Take Out which is to be the final Sigrid Harald title (mm, $10.49, March 2018).

Michael Redhill won the 2017 Giller prize for Bellevue Square (in stock, hard cover, $32), one of his earlier novels Martin Sloane (in stock, TP, $19.95) which is about a missing artist was also short listed for the Giller. Since 2008 Redhill has been writing the ‘Hazel Micallef’ mysteries under the pseudonym Inger Ash Wolfe. We’ve got books #2, 3, and 4 in stock.

A quick look through the store’s inventory produced many books in stock (both new and used) where the plot had an art theme. I am going to list a few of them here but there are many more which we could point out to you. Janice Law has a series in which Irish born British artist Francis Bacon is the main character. The first title is Fires of London which takes place during the Blitz (in stock, TP, $16.99). Other writers and titles would be Arturo Perez-Reverte The Painter of Battles (in stock, TP, $19), John Malcom A Back Room in Somers Town (in stock, used mm, $6), and Barbara Ewing The Fraud (in stock, new, $14.99).

What survey of mysteries would be complete without one of the major figures in the genre Ian Rankin. And yes, he also has an art mystery. Back in 2007 when Rebus had departed, supposedly had his last stand in Exit Music, Rankin published a completely different mystery Doors Open (in stock, used TP, $8/$9). This is a classic heist story revolving around millionaire Mike Mackenzie and the National Gallery of Scotland.

Ms. Sherlock by Sian - The Missing Clue - February 2018

I will first confess that I was never much into Sherlock Holmes. I never read any of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, although I think I may have tried as a teenager. Before we owned Whodunit? I read some mysteries. I remember buying a number of Stephanie Barron’s excellent ‘Jane Austen’ series at Whodunit? as well as the riotously funny (though likely now very dated) ‘Sam Jones’ series by Lauren Henderson. But once we bought the store I started expanding my palate, often just by perusing the used shelves and seeing what jumped out at me. I can’t recall what prompted me to pick up a copy of Carole Nelson Douglas’s Good Night, Mr Holmes, but Goodreads indicates it was in July of 2010. It was around this time that the first Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downie Jr. came out featuring Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler as well as the modern BBC series starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Irene Adler doesn’t appear in that series until Series 2). However, I got there, Carole Nelson Douglas was my introduction to the genre of Sherlock Holmes Pastiche and I haven’t looked back since.

I remember being confused by Good Night, Mr Holmes originally, as I had understood Irene Adler to be the protagonist. As it turns out she is  not the narrator of the books. That honour falls to Nell (or Penelope, who could possibly have been the inspiration for my daughter’s name), who is Irene’s sidekick throughout her various adventures. I have very fond feelings for this whole series, there are 8 books in total, but my Goodreads ratings indicate things really picked up around book #4 (Another Scandal In Bohemia). Sherlock himself pops up throughout the series but is by no means a main character. I do love a recasting of villain though, and this is an excellent example of it with Irene as the heroine. These are long and meaty books. Not hard to read by any means, but wordy and detailed. Unfortunately, two things make it difficult for me to easily recommend these books. Firstly, they are very difficult to find, particularly book #2 (which is entirely out of print). Secondly, books #2, 3, and 4 have all had title changes since their original publication. It would appear that Nelson Douglas is getting back the rights as they go out of print through her original publisher and is selling certain titles as ebooks. If you’re interested in this series, we are able to get Good Night, Mr Holmes in new trade paperback. We also have book #3 new and books 5 and 7 in used. If you enjoy looking for a hard to find series in used bookstores, this is a good one to pick.

            Similarly, I can’t remember how I came to pick up Laurie R. King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, the first in her Mary Russell series. I know I’d heard about it, but finally in July of 2011 I read it and was instantly hooked. Like Carole Nelson Douglas’s Sherlock, King doesn’t ask us to do much reimagining of the great detective. He is retired now, of course, but also falls in love with his protegee, young Mary Russell. He has also given up some of his more dangerous vices. Mycroft is a regular character, Uncle John (Watson) is often referenced, and Mrs. Hudson still tends the house (and is the main character in book #14, The Murder of Mary Russell). Like any series, there are wonderful books and not so great ones. I don’t think I was alone in feeling like Pirate King was a weaker story. But the subsequent books redeemed themselves and the series continues with book #15, Island of the Mad, being released in hardcover in June. The Mary Russell books really captivated me because they inserted a female perspective into the canon without asking the reader to completely reimagine Holmes. We have most of the books in stock at any given time in new (mostly in trade paperback) and used (often in used), as well as the collection of short stories that had previously only been available online (Mary Russell’s War). The early books are my favorite and I envy anyone who has the opportunity to discover them anew.

            The first book in a new series by Leonard Goldberg called The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes was released last summer. The premise here is that the son of John Watson, the daughter and grandson of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, and the son of Inspector Lestrade all find themselves thrown together to solve crimes. I will admit to finding it a bit silly and contrived that these original characters should all have children who do exactly the same things that they do, but it was an easy read and might scratch an itch if you enjoy Holmes pastiche and none of your favourite authors have anything new. The second book in the series, A Study in Treason, will be released in hardcover this summer.

            But now I want to come to the inspiration for this piece: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas, the first in her ‘Lady Sherlock’ series. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything that reading a blurb about the book wouldn’t tell you, but if you haven’t read the book and want to be surprised, skip to Wendy’s piece about art theft.

            As I was saying…I didn’t read this book until this summer, almost a year after it was published, because Wendy said she couldn’t get into it and I trust her judgment. She kept promising me her copy and we couldn’t find it but when we were on vacation this summer I borrowed a digital copy from the library (yes, it’s ok to do that sometimes, we aren’t offended). The first few chapters were slow as Thomas built to the premise of the book. I could absolutely see why Mum gave up. But. Once we have the big reveal that Charlotte Holmes has created Sherlock as a fictional creation to allow her to solve crimes, it’s really wonderful. Ms. Holmes benefactor is named Mrs. Watson while her sister Livia plays the part of the writer of Sherlock’s exploits. I love that the series doesn’t require Sherlock Holmes to be real at all, so we aren’t required to suspend any disbelief about what Holmes might or might not do. Book #2 in the series, A Conspiracy in Belgravia, is just as good and includes a sub-plot featuring the stand-in for Mycroft. Book #3, The Hollow of Fear, will be released in October 2018 and it is the book I am most looking forward to in 2018. I won’t pretend this series has universal appeal, but if you love a Sherlockian pastiche and well-written female characters, you will enjoy it.

            In April I’ll be talking about lady Sherlocks (and Watsons) in young adult titles, including the new modern ‘Charlotte Holmes’ series that begins with the excellent A Study in Charlotte.      

We're Moving! - The Missing Clue - February 2018

That's right! As some of you have already heard, we will be moving the store this spring/summer.  All the way from our current address at 165 Lilac St to [drumroll please]...163 Lilac St. Next door!

While there will be more details that we have not fully worked out, and others that will no doubt come up that we cannot predict, the things we can tell you now are as follows:

1) This moves allows us to be twice as big, without having to leave the neighbourhood.

2) It means that there will be more space for us to display what we have, and stock more of what you, the customers, want.

3) It will provide us with a better space to host more events, both public and private, on a more regular basis.

We would like to thank you, our newsletter subscribers, first and foremost, because it is your support that has allowed this to happen.  By shopping with us, telling us what you do and do not like, and participating in the events and promotions that we have run in the past you have made it so that growing the store not only seemed possible, but necessary.  We look forward to your continued support in the future as we move into this exciting new phase.

Obviously, these changes will have effects that we cannot predict, but we are thrilled that we are going to be moving forward into this exciting new phase for Whodunit?

Holiday Special Orders - The Missing Clue - December 2017

Of course, if we do not have what you are looking for, we are also happy to order it for you. The last day for ordering (to guarantee in-store availability for Sunday, December 24th) is December 10. We can also ship wrapped books for you, in case you need to get it further afield. The last day for guaranteed shipping arrivals is December 20th.

Top Selling Authors at Whodunit

We love a bit of sales analysis trivia! Here are the top selling authors at Whodunit. Did you rediscover Agatha Christie this year too?
 

Rank  Author                       Change from 2016                                           

   1.      Rankin, Ian                                                                     =                                        

   2.      Robinson, Peter                                                             =                                        

   3.      Beaton, M.C.                                                      =                                       

   4.      Christie, Agatha                                                    +4                                         

   5.      Smith, Alexander McCall              -1                                     

   6.      Perry, Anne                                      -1       

   7.      Mankell, Henning                           -1              

   8.      Penny, Louise                                 +2         

   9.      Connelly, Michael                           -2              

  10. Leon, Donna                                  -1         

  11      . Bowen, Rhys                                   =        

  12      . Childs, Laura                                   =        

  13      . Evanovich, Janet                          +1           

  14      . Doherty, Paul                                -1        

  15      . Parker, Robert B                           -2          

  16      . James, P.D.                                     =      

  17. Granger, Ann                                  =         

  18      . George, Elizabeth                          =            

  19      . Marric, J.J.                                       =   

  20      . Bowen, Gail                                   +1       

  21      . Rendell, Ruth                                 -1          

  22      . Grafton, Sue                                   =        

  23      . Benison, C.C.                                   =       

  24      . Crombie, Deborah                       +2              

  25      . Reichs, Kathy                                  =         

  26      . Purser, Ann                                   +2        

  27      . Albert, Susan Wittig                     -3              

  28      . Jardine, Quintin                            +3          

  29      . Braun, Lilian Jackson                    -2               

  30      . Tremayne, Peter                           -1           

2017 Bestsellers - The Missing Clue - December 2017

Hard Cover

1.               Louise Penny, Glass Houses

2.               Jo Nesbo, The Thirst

3.               Donna Leon, Earthly Remains

4.               Peter Robinson, Sleeping in the Ground

5.               Gail Bowen, The Winner’s Circle

6.               Anne Perry, Christmas Return

7.               John Le Carre, A Legacy of Spies

Trade Paper

1.               Michael Bussi, After the Crash

2.               Jacqueline Winspear, In This Grave Hour

3.               Deborah Crombie, Garden of Lamentations

4.               Peter May, Blacklight Blue

5.               Jana Rieger, A Course in Deception

6.               Peter Robinson, When The Music’s Over

7.               Peter May, Blowback

8.               Ann Cleaves, The Seagull

9.               Plum Sykes, Party Girls Die in Pearls

10. Anne Perry, Revenge in a Cold River

Mass Market

1.      M.C.Beaton, Death of A Nurse

2.      Victoria Thompson, Death in Morningside Heights

3.      Louise Penny, A Great Reckoning

4.      M.C. Beaton, Pushing Up Daisies

5.      Lee Child, Night School

6.      Lorna Barrett, Title Wave

7.      John Grisham, The Whistler

8.      Laura Childs, Devonshire Scream

9.      Kate Carlisle, Books of A Feather

10.  Ben Aaronovich, The Hanging Tree

Spring 2018 Mystery Reading Club - The Missing Clue - December 2017

The theme for Winter 2018 is Australia.  Books are available now in store. New members are cordially invited to join the fun.

Tuesday, January 30th – Bad Debts by Peter Temple

Tuesday, February 27th – The Dry by Jane Harper (available January 2nd, 2018)

Tuesday, March 27th – Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

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.

Children's Books at Whodunit - The Missing Clue - December 2017

Over the past year or so we have expanded our children’s book section both physically and in the kinds of books that we have been selling. This came about partly because of our grandchildren. I would see books in catalogues that I thought they would like, and, after a number of them were bought by customers who saw them as we were first receiving them, I then started to order more than one copy of the books I was ordering for my own. In the fall of 2015 our Harper Collins rep, Terry Toews, told us about a book that Harper Collins were publishing which had local interest, which he thought it might be worth us ordering a few copies. The book was Finding Winnie, we ordered an initial five copies but of course that was just the beginning, it has been a consistent seller. The book went on to win the prestigious Caldecott Award. If you have children or grandchildren and have not seen this book, you really should check it out (in stock $19.99); our grandsons Henry and Bram (from Washington, D.C.) marked it as one of their favourites when they visited at Thanksgiving. More picture books began to arrive when one of Michael’s fellow Mount Allison alumni, Kate Beaton, released The Princess and the Pony, and then King Baby (both at $22.99), but gradually, we have also added books that are grandkids are telling us about.

Like their grandfather, Henry and Bram are great baseball fans so they have really enjoyed David A. Kelly’s Ballpark Mysteries, one of which even has a Christmas theme, Christmas In Cooperstown (in stock $ 7.99). Their mother has been a big proponent of Kate Milford, who has most recently released the second book in her ‘Greenglass House’ series Ghosts of Greenglass House, although she feels that they are for slightly older readers. Nor are our family the only sources of new information. One young reader from the neighbourhood visited us to order Jonathan Stroud’s ‘Lockwood and Co.’ series, which proved a great fit for our section, as did the Arthur Conan Doyle adaptations that the author wrote for younger readers.

When I was growing up Enid Blyton was probably the bestselling children’s author in the U.K. Many of her books have been recently repackaged. The characters from the Secret Seven and the Famous Five series are now available in books designed for starting readers with lots of integrated illustrations, as well as in more regular formats. We have had good reports of these books from our Vancouver grandchildren (Lily, Joenna and Oliver). Other extremely long running series Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are also now available in a number of different formats. We also have quite a collection of these two series in used, so if you had a favourite Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys title we might have a copy you could use to introduce your children or grandchildren to the series.

At the moment, probably because of the arrival of Penelope Eleanor, we have a number of Christmas themed board books, including Eric Carle’s Merry Christmas From the Very Hungary Caterpillar and Beatrix Potter’s A Christmas Wish, featuring Peter Rabbit. Talking about board books I must include Olivier Tallec’s Who Done It? and Who? What? Where? Who Done It? has been one of our family’s favourite gifts for baby gifts, early birthdays and holidays for some time.

You may have noticed that in the last couple of issues that at the end of each month’s book lists there has been a Juvenile and Young Adult section. I hope that this will be increasingly useful for readers to track series, and authors in this section as it is in the other sections. Colin Melloy’s Wildwood Chronicles, for example, was a very popular young adult series, and so you will see his new book Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid, listed there, as well as the mass market edition of Nicholas Gannon’s Doldrums, as well as its hardcover sequel Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse.

New and Forthcoming Books by Wendy - The Missing Clue - December 2017

I’ve just finished reading Elizabeth Wilson’s She Died Young (TP, $20.50). Set in 1956 much of the plot revolves around Hungarian student refugees who were based in Oxford. Some of them were attending classes at Oxford while others were waiting to go on to universities in other countries, including Canada. Elizabeth Wilson has written other standalone novels but this one seems to be set up as the first in a series. The two main characters are policeman DCI Jack McGovern and journalist Gerry Blackstone. I really enjoyed this book.

Reading She Died Young, reminded me of a book that I read back in January, Sara Sheridan’s Brighton Belle (TP, $16.95). That novel was set in Brighton in 1951, the main character Mirabelle Bevan, had formerly been a member of the British secret service. The second title in the series, London Calling, is being published in January (TP, $17.95). This time Mirabelle and her friend Vesta investigate the disappearance of debutante Rose Bellamy Gore, from a seedy Soho night club.

Both these books presented a very realistic description of postwar England and seem well rooted in the period with references various political and news events.

Minette Walters has set her first novel in ten years in quite a different period. The plot of The Last Hours, revolves around the arrival of the Black Death in the Dorset village of Melcombe in 1348. This is quite a departure from the author of The Scold’s Bridle. It is being published in April of 2018 (TP, $24.99).

Books as Gifts from Whodunit for People Who Don’t Read Mysteries - The Missing Clue - December 2017

We have tried to bring in some interesting gift ideas to fit all appetites, even those who do not love mystery novels. New York Times Bestselling author Shea Serrano has two coffee table style books The Rap Yearbook and this years Basketball and Other Things. Both are great looking, humorous and colourful; perfect for anyone on your list whose typical reading stems from magazines or shorter works on popular culture, even if they are interested in neither basketball, nor hip-hop music.

For the Potter-heads, we have a wide range of options, including the newly released Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as well as the British Library's Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History of Magic.

We also have a range of colouring books, cooking books, and travelogues that can appeal to a wide range of moods, types and styles. Len Deighton's Action Cookbook, for example, is a wonderful resource for the culinarily challenged, as it does not just include recipes, but instructions on how to stock a kitchen, directed especially at bachelors. Although the contents are more focused on the kitchens of London in the Swinging Sixties, and the majority of us are no longer using iceboxes, or unfamiliar with in house refrigerators, it also includes the cartoon strips that Deighton drew to accompany these tips to better illustrate the concepts he describes.

Michael's Pick - Bumsted Picks of 2017 - The Missing Clue - December 2017

Righteous by Joe Ide

(HC, $34.00, order here)

Joe Ide has had quite enough acolades in 2017 for his first novel IQ, having been nominated for the Anthony, the Barry, the Edgar and the McAvity for Best Debut Novel.

His second book, Righteous, is better. 

Untethered from the shackles of origin story and protagonist introduction, Ide is freed in his sophomore effort to expand his scope and paint a picture of Los Angeles as complex melange of cultures and classes.  Ides’ obvious, and open adoration of Conan Doyle has allowed him to present a modern, African American hyper-intelligent character that evokes Holmes honestly and effectively, and surrounds him with characters that compliment him admirably. 

For those who are reluctant to start with the second book, we do have the first in trade paperback ($20.99).  However, it is in Righteous that Joe Ide has made a world I cannot wait to revisit. 
 

Sian's Pick - Bumsted Picks of 2017 - The Missing Clue - December 2017

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

(TP, $19.49, order here)

I rated 12 books with 5 Stars last year and 6 of those are books we sell at Whodunit. Mum already picked Party Girls Die in Pearls, one was published in 2016, two were the second in a series, and one isn’t technically available in Canada yet. So I was feeling a little unsure about what to pick as my book of the year. But when I was in the store in November, a book kept catching my eye. I looked at it a few times. I started to read the first chapter, but with Bookstore Baby on the loose it was hard to get very far. Then, one day, Penelope was napping in the store and I remembered the book and…I couldn’t put it down. I even reported to Mum after the first chapter that I was pretty sure it was going to be my book of the year. And here we are.

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw is everything I want in a book. A strong female protagonist. A fantastical spin. A little bit of smouldering romance in the background. The first in a series. And, most importantly, spectacularly well-written. Dr. Greta Helsing is a London doctor who’s Harley Street practice specializes in the monstrous undead. Vampires, demons, mummies, and ghouls to name a few. But a serial killing sect of murderous monks has trained their mania on the monsters and Dr. Helsing and her friends (living and undead), must get to the bottom of it and keep London’s monstrous population safe (and healthy).

This is truly a special book that is not only unputdownable, but also makes you insanely jealous that you didn’t come up with the idea first. I cannot wait to see where she takes the story in the follow-up due in July of 2018 called Dreadful Company.

Wendy's Pick - Bumsted Picks of 2017 - The Missing Clue - December 2017

Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes

(TP, $22.99, order here)

My book of the year is Plum Sykes, Party Girls Die in Pearls. This is a fun read. Set in the 1980s the plot centres around a disparate pair of students Ursula Flowerbottom, a studious girl from rural England and Nancy Feingold, an American exchange student from Saddle River, New Jersey. Neither of whom are really au fait with the lifestyle and expectations of the group of wealthy and/or aristocratic students with whom they are mixing. Sykes adds a few footnotes to inform readers who do not remember that far back e.g. comparison of outfit to one Sue Ellen might wear, Sue Ellen Ewing from the prime-time soap Dallas, which was the epitome of 80s glamour.