What Penelope is Reading

I think we all have grand plans when we have kids about the kinds of books that they are going to read. As a baby, Penny loved the usual books, especially anything by the Ahlbergs (Each Peach Pear Plum, Peepo!, and The Baby’s Catalogue being particular favourites). But now as she has started to watch TV, she loves herself some merch, and this is why you’re starting to see Maisy and Peppa Pig on our shelves. Now, our parents never put any pressure on us to read things that were ‘wholesome’ versus ‘fun’, and reading is the whole point (it could be a grocery store flyer, I think, as long as you’re doing it together), but I do sometimes look longingly at the beautiful picture books we own and await anxiously the day when those are the first thing she picks when she says “read!” and thrusts a book at me. Don’t even talk to me about Baby Shark. Which is to say, if you haven’t spent time in our kid’s section, you’ll find a good combination of high and low and something for everyone.

And speaking (again!) of rereads, I think there are families who read the same books every night and families who pick new ones. I am of the camp that reads the same books every night, so we start with Tuck Me In, move on to Dream Animals, then Sleepyhead, and finally Goodnight Moon (I purposely dropped Goodnight Gorilla down the side of the bed because I can’t deal with the fact it has no words). After almost two years of reading these same books, I know them by heart. In fact, we finish with The Going to Bed Book, which I recite as I zip her into her sleep sack. Imagine my surprise when the other week Penny started reciting it along with me! Turns out she knows a lot of the words to most of the books we read every night. Just another example of the power of words and the time we spend with our kids sharing books.

What I'm Reading by Sian - The Missing Clue - October 2019

I was home for a baby-free weekend in Winnipeg a month or so back and we ran into some customer friends at Polo Park who said they were interested to know how I was going to spin my (lack of) reading progress. No spin required! It’s all bad! I have read a measly 22 books so far this year and it’s both shocking and embarrassing. RIP long transit commutes.

What doesn’t help is that every September I reread Deborah Harkness’ ‘All Souls Trilogy’. I just finished A Discovery of Witches, am about halfway through Shadow of Night, and should be onto The Book of Life by the weekend. Of course, now there is a fourth book to add on with Time’s Convert. All are available in store in trade paperback and rereading them is one of my favourite things about fall.

Speaking of rereads, The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman, the first in the ‘Book of Dust’ series that follows ‘His Dark Materials’ is still on my to read pile. Book #2, The Secret Commonwealth, comes out this week in hardcover (and we’ve got the first in stock in trade paperback), so the pressure is further on. But I think I need a reread of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass before I start the new series. Plus, the new HBO series of His Dark Materials will be released in November. James McAvoy as Lord Asriel? I’m in.

I never really worry about my to-read pile because every book on it will eventually be read and it will have been the right time for that book. I sat on A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman for a year but spent a delightful weekend in August reading it on the porch. It combines all my favourite things: a plucky American heiress, a nascent romance, a know-it-all best friend, and a crime to be solved. We’ve got this first book in the ‘Countess of Harleigh’ series now in trade paperback and book #2, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, in store in hardcover. This time Frances’ sister, aunt, and houseguest join the intrigue.

I had been losing interest in Gail Carriger’s ‘Custard Protocol’ series but book #3 in that series, Competence, really reminded me of the joy that is Carriger. I anxiously awaited Reticence, what I assume is the final book in that series (and maybe that world? She has nothing else scheduled) and it did not disappoint. We have come full circle back to Alexia and Connall and Ivy and all the girls from ‘Finishing School’. I will say here again that Soulless, the first book in the ‘Parasol Protectorate’ series is one of my very favorite books and I reread it this spring. It is a true joy to read and we can order in that series in trade paperback as required.

Fall is of course THE time for big books to be published and my most anticipated reads are certainly included (and my to-read pile will bear the brunt of it, certainly).

I believe I already have a copy of Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw, book #3 in her ‘Dr. Greta Helsing’ series sitting on the shelf at the store waiting for me to arrive at Thanksgiving. Equally anticipated, and hopefully arriving just in time, is The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas (book #4 in the ‘Lady Sherlock’ series). Then we’ve got Penny for Your Secrets by Anna Lee Huber and most excitedly (it’s been a while!), And Dangerous to Know by Darcie Wilde. I won’t even mention what’s coming in January.

I have a list of the authors I read and whenever I have a few hours in the store, I like to hunker down and make sure I know what’s coming next. There are always a number of authors who just sort of trailed off, for reasons that aren’t necessarily clear. The last ‘Dresden Files’ book by Jim Butcher came out in 2014 (Skin Game). When I checked in August, there was suddenly book #15, Peace Talks, scheduled for June 2020. I haven’t seen an ISBN, which is the equivalent of waiting to see the whites of their eyes, but it is still something to maybe look forward to for those of us who miss Harry Dresden (although Ben Aaronovitch, Benedict Jacka, and Andrew Cartmel have certainly filled a part of that hole).

Book Blurbs by Hannah - The Missing Clue - October 2019

Singapore Sapphire, A.M. Stuart

This is a well-written and engaging period mystery. The characters are three-dimensional and believable, the plot is filled with twists and turns, and turn-of-the-century Singapore comes to life in vivid detail. Tackles issues associated with colonialism and gender in a way that feels true to the period but consistent with a more modern perspective. 

The Testaments, Margaret Atwood

A wonderful sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. I think the plot stands alone and could be read in isolation but it will be particularly appreciated by fans of the first novel and of the wonderful television adaptation. Very different in pace and tone from the first novel, it moves more quickly, is more plot and character driven, and less elegiac in its prose. If the first novel was intended as a cautionary tale, this one is intended to inspire and rally us all to continue to fight against oppression and tyranny.  

The War in the Dark, Nick Setchfield

A good occult spy novel. For fans of The Clown Service who wished it was a little more like John le Carre. The plot twists and turns are absorbing and the prose is spare and clean. I’m excited to read the sequel!

Wendy's Recent Reads and Bits & Pieces - The Missing Clue - October 2019

Series I Missed

It is not that I did not know of the existence of M.L. Longworth’s series featuring Antoine Verlaque, the chief magistrate of Aix-en-Provence and law professor Marine Bonnet, after all I do a lot of the ordering. However, I had never actually read any of the series until last month when I read an advanced reader’s copy of the eighth in the series, A Noel Killing, which is being released in November (TP $22). I really enjoyed it and went on to search out and read the already published titles. What back story there is revolves around the relationship between the main characters and the people in their social and professional circles. The series is realistic and believable and quite charming. A definite thumbs up.

Series I Recently Reread – Which You Might Not Have Read

Emma Lathen is, as is not uncommon, really two people, American writers Martha Henissart and Mary Jane Latsis. The first title in the series, Banking on Death, appeared in 1961 and introduced us to her main character John Putnam Thatcher, a Wall Street banker. Some of plots deal with different businesses, e.g. Murder to Go deals with the growth of fast food franchising, Murder Without Icing deals with the NHL and professional hockey. Some plots deal with world events, When in Greece, takes place during the Colonels Revolution of the 1960s, Double, Double, Oil and Trouble has John Putnam Thatcher embroiled in the North Sea oil ventures of the 1970s. The twenty- four books in the series, published between 1961 and 1997 are good reads and as the back story is minimal there is no need to worry about reading a book out of order.

New Author to Whodunit

Author J.P. Carter writes a police procedural series set in London. The main character is DCI Anna Tate. I did not read the first title in the series, In Safe Hands (tp$17.99) but I have just finished the second title At Your Door (tp$19.50). There were no problems in not having read the first title. The story and the plot move right along. It was an enjoyable read set firmly in the present time.

Upcoming Events - The Missing Clue - October 2019

Mike Martin – Thursday Nov 7

We are also pleased to announce that we will be hosting an evening with the 2019 Bony Blythe winner, Mike Martin.  Martin whose light mysteries follow Sgt Windflower in his adventures in Newfoundland is the Chair of the Crime Writers of Canada, and will be here on the evening of Nov. 7 to read, to talk about his work, and to sign books!  Check out our Event Calendar on the website for more!


We are pleased to announce that we will be partnering with the Winnipeg branch of the National Novel Writing Month groups to host Sunday afternoon writing events in November.  From 3-6 on each Sunday in November we will be opening our space to writers to allow them to use it to converse about their work, or to simply work in a different space.  For more information about the program, you can check out https://nanowrimo.org/regions/canada-manitoba-winnipeg, or email winnipeg.nano@gmail.com.

Our New Webstore

Michael is bad at keeping a secret, and so at least some of you have already seen that the store has a new online shop!  Check out https://whodunitbooks.ca to see all the new features that the site can offer.  These include, but are not limited to: our event calendar, listings of new releases, of newly arrived books in used, of upcoming titles, and much more!  Please take the time to check it out, and visit often to see the new things that will be appearing there!

Surprise Guests

Have you noticed that an author is visiting Winnipeg?  Well, sometimes they turn up at Whodunit.  We are often never able to share when we know that the author is here until after the fact, but if you follow us on Social media, you will certainly see pictures of them, and there will often be signed books to buy subsequently.  Watch those feeds!

Anniversary Sale – November 12th-16th

Although we have, of late, been celebrating our move to 163, November 13 IS the stores original birthday.As such, we will be celebrating by having a store-wide sale from the 12th-17th of the month.It will be 20% off EVERYTHING in the shop, whether it be new or used, so please stop in to celebrate with us.You can also expect some other treats and gifts to be announced as we get closer.

BESTSELLER LISTS - The Missing Clue - August 2019

Want to know what other Whodunit customers are enjoying? Here are our bestselling titles for June and July 2019.

Mass Market

1.  Miranda James  Claws for Concern   

2. M.C. Beaton,  The Dead Ringer    

3. Louise Penny,  Kingdom of the Blind

4. John Grisham, The Reckoning

5. Sara Paretsky, Shell Game

6. Rita Mae Brown, Probable Claws

7. Laurien Berenson, Ruff Justice

8. Ellery Adams, Murder in the Reading Room

9. Neil Gaiman,  Good Omens

10. Bethany Blake, Something Borrowed, Something Mewed

Trade Paper

1. C.J. Sansom,  Tombland

2. Steve Burrows,  Dance of Cranes

3. Peter James,  Dead at First Sight

4. Paul Doherty, Devil’s Wolf

5. Ian Hamilton, The Mountain Master of Sha Tin

6. Martin Walker, A Taste for Vengeance

7. Louise Penny, Kingdom of the Blind

8. Anthony Horowitz,  The Sentence is Death

9.  Phillip Gwynne Jones, The Venetian Game

10. Mick Herron, London Rules


1. Kate Atkinson, Big Sky             

2. Martin Walker, The Body in the Castle Well   

3. Nancy Atherton, Aunt Dimity and the Heart of Gold

4. Cara Black, Murder in Bel-Air

5. Louise Candish,  Those People

What I'm Reading by Sian - The Missing Clue - August 2019

I’m afraid to announce that past the mid-point of the year, I’m 40 books behind schedule to achieve my 2019 reading goal of 100 books. Turns out that losing 90 minutes of reading time every day thanks to my transition from taking the train to driving has taken a real toll. Still, I have been doing some reading and what I have done has been excellent.

I have enjoyed all of Deanna Raybourn’s ‘Veronica Speedwell’ books, but each of the first three had an ending I felt left a bit wanting. Fortunately, book #4, A Dangerous Collaboration (in stock in hardcover), finally resolved this issue. Veronica, Stoker, and Stoker’s brother Tiberius all play an equal part in solving an old murder on an island in Cornwall. It is equal parts atmospheric and engaging and the whole series would be an excellent summer read. We’ve also got book #3 in stock in trade paperback with books #1 and 2 available for order. Book #5, A Murderous Relation, will be released in March 2020.

Do you ever find yourself reading a series that you can’t quite remember why you started reading and yet you find yourself continuing to buy it? That’s the case for me with Will Thomas’ ‘Barker & Llewelyn’ series. Reading about two male detectives in Victorian London is really not my wheelhouse, but I enjoy each new book. Book #10, Blood is Blood (available to order in hardcover) features Cyrus Barker mostly sidelined due to an assassination attempt and leaves Thomas Llewelyn to try to solve the crime whilst planning a wedding and “babysitting” Barker’s brother. The trade paperback is coming in October with book #11, Lethal Pursuit, on sale in November. This is a series where you needn’t have read every book to enjoy it and we’ve got some earlier titles in trade paperback if you want to dip your toe in.

I’m late to ‘The Vinyl Detective’ party, so you’ll just have to call me a band wagon jumper of the first degree. I’m not sure why I put off reading these books, but they came to me at a time this summer when I needed a thoroughly fun and easy read. I read all four books in a few weeks and now I’m sad that I have to wait for an as yet unscheduled 5th book. We’ve got all four books in stock, the first two in mass market and the second two in trade paperback. This is another great series for summer reading, the kind of books with which you want to settle in on the porch and not get up for several hours.

Like many of you, a great percentage of my reading used to be in mass market, but as publishing has changed, I can’t remember the last time I read a cozy, particularly a new series. When I was last at home, however, Dana Dratch’s Confessions of a Red Herring caught my eye and I picked it up. It could probably be about 50 pages shorter, but I thought this was a fun start to a series with a quirky cast of characters including our heroine, a journalist turned PR guru and a potential love interest who owns a B&B across the street. Book #2, Seeing Red, is already available and in stock in mass market.

Not surprisingly, my ‘To Read’ pile is nearing on teetering, but I have a 9 day vacation coming up and the hopes I can really blast through it. Featured especially are Anna Lee Huber’s An Artless Demise, Benedict Jacka’s Marked, Julie McElwain’s Caught in Time, Zen Cho’s The True Queen, and The Killing Site by Caro Peacock. All the more pressure to make progress because the two books I am most looking forward to in 2019 are coming out this fall. Sherry Thomas’ The Art of Theft, book #4 in her ‘Lady Sherlock’ series, is coming in October in trade paperback. I have already been told I can’t pick it as my book of the year. And in September, Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw, will be released (also in trade paperback). Dr. Greta Helsing is my favourite book heroine and I can’t wait to read this next book.

In Memorium - The Missing Clue - August 2019

Andea Camilleri   1925-July 2019

The first book in Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series, The Shape of Water, was not published until the author was almost 70 years of age in 1994. (This should encourage some of our would be writers who think that they may have left it too late to start writing.)  The twenty fifth title The Safety Night, was already scheduled for publication in March 2020.  That will probably not be the last of the Montalbano series, as in 2007, Camilleri is reputed to have written the final novel in the series. The manuscript deposited with his publishing house was there for when Camilleri either got fed up with the character or could not write anymore.   The success of the Montalbano series which was already considerable was enhanced in 1999 when a television series based on the books was produced by RAI the Italian state broadcaster. It is still running. 

Howard Engel    1931-July 2019

Howard Engel was the author of the Benny Cooperman mysteries, based in Grantham, a fictional re-incarnation of St. Catherines, Ontario. In addition to his Cooperman mysteries, Engel also wrote fiction and non-fiction, including a memoir, The Man Who Forgot How to Read, detailing his experience suffering alexia sine agraphia, a neurological condition which robbed him of the ability to read although not the ability to write. In 2005, he used the experience in one of the Benny Cooperman novels, Memory Book. Cooperman was hit on the head during an investigation and suffered the same effect.  He was a founding member of the Crime Writers of Canada.

What I'm Reading by Laura - The Missing Clue - August 2019

In the last month, I've been able to get some titles off my Want-To-Read list. First, I highly recommend Ilaria Tuti's debut novel, Flowers for the Inferno, (HC, 31.95) which arrived in April 2019. This kicks off her Teresa Battaglia trilogy, though it's hard to say that Teresa is the main character - the narrative often jumps between characters and time periods. It primarily focuses on a murder in an isolated Italian village, investigated by an outside group of police officers led by Teresa. It's dark, broody, and slightly graphic without being terribly gorey.

Two Canadian authors are featured here as well - Esi Edugyan's acclaimed Washington Black, (TP, 24.99) which was released August 2018, follows the life of the title character born a slave in Barbados and selected as the personal servant to his tyrannical master's brother. The brother, a naturalist and inventor, sympathizes with the abolitionist cause, and after a tragic turn of events, escapes the island with Washington in tow. This book is not without themes of hate and violence, but Edugyan has created a beautiful, thoughtful story without ignoring the historical context.

Next, Marie-Renee Lavoie's Autopsy of a Boring Wife (TP, 22.95) is a story about heartbreak and healing. While at times incredibly sad, the sarcasm and blunt attitude of the narrator, a woman recently left by her husband, balance this and results in a wonderful sort of coming of middle-age story.

Finally, another historical fiction and another debut - Stacey Halls' The Familiars,(TP, 22.99). I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this one up, but I found it really enjoyable. Set during the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612 in Lancaster, the main character Fleetwood Shuttleworth is desperate to conceive a child, and resorts to hiring a woman as a midwife who has connections to those accused of witchcraft. There are themes of truth, empowerment, and agency explored, and it was an entertaining read.

Wendy’s Recent Reads and Bits & Pieces - The Missing Clue - August 2019

Summer Reads

Phillip Gwynne Jones’s series set in Venice is a new import from the UK. As sometimes happens we received the first three titles over the course of three months, May to July, rather than as they were released 2017-2019. If you like books about Venice you will like these, lighter in tone than Donna Leon they are an enjoyable read. [The Venetian Game, Vengeance in Venice and The Venetian Masquerade are available in trade paper at $16.99-17.70] A fourth title Venetian Gothic will be released in time for next Summer.

Rachel Rhys’ Fatal Inheritance takes place in 1948. The heroine Eva Forrester’s life, in post WWII Britain, seems to be one of unremitting greyness when out of the blue she is left a mysterious legacy in the South of France. Needless to say life on the Mediterranean coast is very different from gloomy post WWII Britain.

Faith Martin has written a number of mysteries under a number of names, most of which are not available in North America. She has embarked on a new series set in Oxford in the 1960s. The two main characters are Dr. Clement Ryder, former heart surgeon now Oxford’s coroner and Trudy Loveday a young woman police constable. The first two titles A Fatal Obsession and A Fatal Mistake are in stock, the third A Fatal Flaw was released in the UK in April but we have not as yet received our ordered copies. 

TV News

Many of you will have picked up a Freeman Wills Croft title which has been republished in the British Library Crime Classic series, now Inspector French is coming to the small screen. Set in the 1920s, Inspector French was a Scotland Yard detective who was sent to many places in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to solve the crime.

Lovejoy is coming back to the television screen. A new updated version of the long running (1986-94) comedy drama series which was based on the novels of Jonathan Gash is in the works. For those of you who have never seen the series, Lovejoy, played by Ian McShane, was an antiques dealer who operated just inside the letter of the law. Blue Sky Pictures has acquired the rights to the original novels with plans to "update it for the 21st century for both the millions who followed the original and a whole new generation of viewers". It will be interesting to see if the new interpretation presents Lovejoy as the harder edged character of the novels rather than the softer loveable rogue of the original BBC series.

The Dead Good Reader Awards 2019

These awards are handed out at the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival which is held in Harrogate, England every July.  The Festival has become a very important feature of the mystery writer’s circuit and always features a star studded and eclectic programme.   Guests this year included Harlan Coben, Ian Rankin, Belinda Bauer, Jo Nesbo, M.C. Beaton and James Patterson.   The awards this year were as follows:

The Nosy Parker Award for Best Amateur Detective:

Winner:  The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Jury’s Out Award for Most Gripping Courtroom Drama:

Winner: Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

The Dish Served Cold Award for Best Revenge Thriller:

Winner: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

The Cancel All Plans Award for the Book You Can’t Put Down:

Winner: Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

The Cat and Mouse Award for Most Elusive Villain:

Winner: Last of the Magpies by Mark Edwards

The Dead Good Recommends Award for Most Recommended Book:

Winner: The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths    

Upcoming Events - The Missing Clue - August 2019

Book Launch: The Retreat by Sherri Smith

We are very excited to be hosting the Launch Event for Sherri Smith's new book The Retreat on Tuesday, August 20th at 7pm. Set at a Wellness Retreat and featuring a face paced and twisting mystery, Sherri's new book has already gotten good reviews from places like Time and Publisher's Weekly. We are proud of Sherri's success as a Winnipeg writer and are honoured that Whodunit? is going to be where the Launch takes place. For a chance to celebrate with us, check out our Facebook event, visit the Eventbrite listing for FREE tickets, or call the store. Refreshments will be served, but space will be limited, so don't tarry!

50% Used Book Sale

On the 24th of August last year, we finally received the permit to occupy 163 Lilac!  What an incredible year it has been.  Memories of that first weekend, however, still haunt Michael, as he and his little band of volunteers spent the weekend moving our entire stock.  In an effort to get some of the heaviest offenders off our shelves, we will be having 50% off ALL USED BOOKS from Thursday Aug. 22 - Sunday Aug 25.  Come in and stock up for back to school, back to work, or even for winter.

Thin Air Festival Sept 29 (TBC)

We are pleased to announce that we expect to be hosting a Thin Air Writing Festival Event at the end of September.  Stay tuned to our social medias, your emails and the festival website for details!

Call for Interest: Toddler Reading Group

Now that we have been in 163 for a year, we are better prepared to offer some of the expanded services that the new space allows.  One of the ideas that has been brought up has been to have a bi-weekly event for pre-school children.  Our intention is to begin in January 2020 with bi-weekly Wednesday morning readings of some children's classics (and not so classics).  If interested in more information, please get in touch!

Children’s Book Cards

Another aspect of our new space is our larger children’s section.  To reward those who are buying from that section, we are now offering a stamp card for those books as well.  Buy ten, and get $10 off!

Save the Date: Harry Potter Book Night

We will once again be hosting Bloomsbury Publications "Harry Potter Book Night" on Thursday, February 6th 2020.  For 2020, the theme will be The Triwizard Tournament. Tickets, and more details will be available in the new year.

Bestseller Lists - The Missing Clue - June 2019

Want to know what other Whodunit customers are enjoying? Here are our bestselling titles for April and May 2019.

Mass Market

1.       Julia Buckley, Death Waits in the Dark   

2.       Laird Barron, Blood Standard             

3.       Victoria Thompson, Murder on Union Square    

4.       Lee Child, Past Tense                

5.       Bree Baker, No Good Tea Goes Unpunished

6.       Lauren Elliott, Prologue to Murder      

7.       Rita Mae Brown, Probable Claws          

8.       Bree Baker, Live and Let Chai

9.       Ellery Adams, Murder in the Reading Room

10.   Jenn McKinlay, Dying for Devil’s Food

Trade Paper

1.       Anne Perry, Twenty-One Days          

2.       James Runcie, The Road to Grantchester

3.       Peter May, The Runner

4.       Jacqueline Winspear, The American Agent

5.       Donna Leon, The Temptation of Forgiveness

6.       Anna Lee Huber, An Artless Demise

7.       Ngaio Marsh, Money in the Morgue       

8.       Martha Grimes, The Knowledge

9.       Karen Bate, Ice

10.   Peter Tremayne, Bloodmoon


1.       Phillip Kerr, Metropolis                 

2.       Donna Leon, Unto Us a Son is Given      

3.       Thomas Perry, The Burglar

4.       John Sandford, Neon Prey

5.       Anne Perry, Triple Jeopardy

Mystery Reading Club - The Missing Clue - June 2019

Our final meeting will be on Tuesday, June 25th. Book club will reconvene on Tuesday, September 24th. Topic and books to be announced in the August newsletter.

Tuesday, June 25th – The State Counsellor by Boris Akunin

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). New members are always welcome.

What I'm Reading by Laura - The Missing Clue - June 2019

With the school term over, I’ve replaced my assigned readings with mysteries.

I thoroughly enjoyed Dervla McTiernan’s The Scholar, her second in the Cormac Reilly series. Although I had missed the first in the series, there’s enough exposition to understand the backstories of recurring characters. The Scholar follows multiple viewpoints of Detective Reilly, his colleagues, and suspects in the aftermath of a fatal hit and run of a young woman on a Galway university campus. A police procedural with a hint of corporate intrigue and several interpersonal dramas, I found the story engaging and twisty. Although it is a little dark, there is very little outright violence, and I do think I’ll stick with this series.

I happened to read two Sarah Perry novels at the same time. Perry seems adaptable to a variety of settings and time periods, but her prose-y style in both were enjoyable. The Essex Serpent is an entertaining historical fiction which primarily focuses on the widow-turned naturalist Cora Seabourne investigating the return of a mythical Essex Serpent haunting the Essex countryside. Melmoth, on the other hand, haunted me while reading it. Melmoth follows the story of Helen Franklin, who lives an ascetic life in Prague. She finds herself involved in chasing evidence of Melmoth, Perry’s invention of a woman cursed to wander the earth and bear witness to humanity’s failings. The narrative jumps between the accounts of Melmoth that Helen reads, suspecting that she will be visited by Melmoth soon. The novel was at times terribly sad and incredibly spooky (as someone easily startled, I’d advise reading in a well-lit room), but well worth the read.

Most recently, I read Rabindranath Maharaj’s Fatboy Fall Down. It’s a heart-wrenching story of a man who faces failure at every turn of his life, set against the backdrop of an unnamed island nation’s changing society that he finds himself constantly attempting to adjust to. I couldn’t put it down, even though the chain of events that the main character must endure made me want to give up as well. Although it’s not particularly a mystery, it is a beautiful, melancholic story about the pursuit of happiness on one’s own terms.

Wendy's Recent Reads and Bits & Pieces - The Missing Clue - June 2019

Coming to Your Television

Last week I saw a notice on a mystery blog that there was to be a television series based on Peter James’ Roy Grace series, so I decided to do some further investigating. Unfortunately, details proved to be frustratingly vague. The notice I read was based on comments made by the author himself at the UK launch of the fifteenth Roy Grace title, Dead at First Sight, and reported in The Argus, a newspaper published in Brighton. Further research led me to a number of other similar reports in The Argus, going back to 2011. From other sources, including Peter James own YouTube channel, I think that there are definitely plans for a Roy Grace series but when it will appear is not clear. Peter James is on record as saying that he wants a relatively unknown actor to play the role of Roy Grace, so perhaps casting is one of the holdups. Hopefully, all will be resolved and we can all enjoy the stories and views of beautiful Brighton. Dead at First Sight, will be available in Canada on July 2nd, tradepaper $25.99.

A two-part drama series which will be released in the fall is Salisbury. This series is based on the Novichok poisonings of March 2018, when Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were targeted. Unfortunately, there were also unintended victims, a policeman was exposed to the nerve agent during the initial investigation. In June 2018, a British couple Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley became ill and Ms. Sturgess died after being exposed to the perfume bottle which had contained the nerve agent and which had been discarded in a park. Should be interesting viewing.

Used Books

One feature of our used book purchases this Spring has been the number of almost complete series that we have obtained. In the adult section it has included Deborah Crombie, Reginald Hill, Laura Child and Kate Ellis.

Unusually this year we also have quite long runs of juvenile/young adult series, many new titles for our Nancy Drew collection for instance. We also have some series which are new to me. Margaret Sutton’s Judy Bolton series being one. There are in total thirty eight books in the series, the first book The Vanishing Shadow was published in 1932 and the final book The Secret of the Sandcastle was published in 1967. The series is unusual because the character starts as a high school student, ages and gets married and is regarded as being more realistic than Nancy Drew. Many of the novels have a basis in fact, the Austin (Pennsylvania) Dam disaster was the basis for the first Judy Bolton mystery. Family homes, of the author in Odin and Coudersport, PA. appeared in the books as homes of the various characters. The series was published by Grosset and Dunlap, they had only agreed to publish the books on three conditions. The author whose real name was Rachel Irene Beebe, had to change her name to something more marketable and sophisticated, the new girl detective could not be called Melissa so Judy Bolton was born and Judy could not be blonde because Grosset and Dunlap already had a blonde, Nancy Drew! Although published by Grosset and Dunlap, Sutton was not part of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, so she retained the copyright of her own books.  It has been suggested that it was pressure from the Stratemeyers fearing competition for their Nancy Drew books that led to limited promotion of the Judy Bolton series, and its eventual cancellation. 

Hilary Mantel

YES there is an official date and an official title for the final book in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy.The Mirror and the Light will be published on March 10th 2020 by Harper Collins Canada. It will be in the trade paper format at $24.99.This novel will follow the last five years of Cromwell’s life starting with the execution of Anne Boleyn in May 1536.Some of our customers have said they are dusting off the two earlier titles in the series, Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring Up the Bodies (2012) to be ready for the event.

Recent Events and Updates - The Missing Clue - June 2019

Michael Went a-Touring

...or something like that anyways.  At the end of May, I found myself in the Toronto Arts and Letters Club celebrating the Arthur Ellis Awards with the Crime Writers of Canada.  We have always kept track of the event, and in fact, have nearly all judged in one category or another over the years. However, I had never attended before. The reason for me to visit was, because starting with the 2020 Prizes, I will be the Head of Juries for the event, and am honoured that the CWC, and the past Head, Sleuth of Baker Street's Marian Misters, have provided me with the opportunity. Also congratulations to all of this year’s nominees, and this year’s winners!

BEST CRIME NOVEL Anne Emery, Though the Heavens Fall, ECW Press

BEST FIRST CRIME NOVEL A.J. Devlin, Cobra Clutch, NeWest Press

BEST CRIME NOVELLA The Lou Allin Memorial Award John Lawrence Reynolds, Murder Among the Pines, Orca Book Publishers

BEST CRIME SHORT STORY Linda L. Richards, Terminal City, Vancouver Noir, Akashic Books

BEST CRIME BOOK IN FRENCH Hervé Gagnon, Adolphus - Une enquête de Joseph Laflamme, Libre Expression

BEST JUVENILE/YOUNG ADULT CRIME BOOK Linwood Barclay, Escape, Puffin Canada

BEST NONFICTION CRIME BOOK Sarah Weinman, The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World, Alfred A. Knopf Canada

BEST UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT (aka The Unhanged Arthur) Liv McFarlane, The Scarlet Cross

The day after the Arthur Ellis found me at the "Bloody Words Mini-Con and the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Awards Dinner", at the lovely High Park Club. After a day of interesting panels and conversations with both established and emerging voices from Canada's Light Mystery (aka Cosy) genre, the award for this year went to Mike Martin for Darkest Before the Dawn the latest in his Sgt Windflower mysteries. Once again, congratulations to all the nominees! 

It was a real thrill to meet with all the authors, editors, publishers and booksellers who were at both events. As the year develops, we hope to have more to announce to you that will come from the Canadian crime-writing scene!

Manitoba Book Awards

The Manitoba Book Awards also happened since our last printing and Michael J Clark tied for best first novel for his book Clean Sweep!  Even more exciting, Michael's second novel Mahoney's Camaro released at the end of May.  There were also a number of members of the Whodunit community who were nominated, or who won prizes, and we would like to congratulate them all!


Thank you to all of you who filled out our survey! There was a lot of really valuable feedback that you provided to us, and we hope to implement as many of the elements of it as we are able. One of the results has already been implemented with our extended hours.  Thursday and Friday evenings were by far the most common responses for people to visit the shop in the evening, and as a result...


...we will be open until 8pm on Thursday and Friday evenings, and until 6pm on Saturdays!  We are hoping that many of you will take advantage of the good weather to walk over, or to stop in before you head out to your weekend activities and grab something to keep you entertained!

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day

We were so happy with everyone who came out to visit us on the 27th of April, and congratulations to all of you who won prizes while you were here!

Anne Morton Lecture

Also, thank you to Anne for her informative talk on the 5th of May!  It was great to hear more about your research surrounding Josephine Tey, and The Daughter of Time.

Karen Bate Event

We had a lovely visit on April 14th  from Karen Bate, author of the "Mayfair Mystery" series. Her baking was very appreciated, as was her humour and candidness about her writing process. Thank you, Karen for visiting.

Wendy's Recent Reads - The Missing Clue - April 2019

I was bemoaning the reduced number of mass markets just the other month but we seem to be seeing more in the catalogues for Summer and Fall. There is one new series which I have been enjoying, written by Bree Baker the series is set the summer resort town of Charm. The first book was called Live and Let Chai, and the second title which is a new release is No Good Tea Goes Unpunished. I think this series is well worth a try and we have copies of both titles in stock in mass market at $10.99 (including the newest in used already!).

I must admit I was a little surprised to see Andrew Cartmel’s ‘Vinyl Detective’ series appear in mass market format but it was a pleasant surprise. The plots revolve around a record collector and vinyl connoisseur who has developed a business based on his own passion for vinyl records of seeking out rare or lost recordings for clients. This is a fun and engaging series with a host of well developed supporting characters. The fourth title, Flip Back is about to appear in trade paper, but the first two titles Written in Dead Wax and The Run-Out Groove are available in mass market at $10.99 and we’ve got the third book, Victory Disc, in new and used trade paperback.

Alexander McCall Smith is well known as a very prolific writer, so it is no surprise that he has recently embarked on two new series. With Inspector Varg, McCall Smith is entering the Scandinavian genre. The Department of Sensitive Crimes introduces us to Inspector Ulf Varg who as the title suggests is part of the Department of Sensitive Crimes, which is based in Malmo, Sweden. Varg is also the owner of a hearing impaired dog Marten, who is able to lip read in Swedish. We will see how this series progresses. The first title will be available in hardcover later in April at $29.95.

Also from McCall Smith, My Italian Bulldozer, introduces us to writer Paul Stewart, whose attempted escape to Italy to find peace and quiet to finish his current project is doomed to failure from the moment his plane touches down. The book is available in stock $19.95. The second title The Second Worst Restaurant in France is due to be released in hardcover in July, at $29.95. The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse is a stand alone novel, set in England during WWII. Available in store $19.95. However, fans of the Ladies No 1 Detective Agency should not worry because the 20th title in that series, To the Land of Long Lost Friends, will arrive in hardcover in October. We’ve got the first four books in that series in stock in used trade paperback if you never jumped on that particular train all those years ago now.

After a gap of seven years and literary side trips to Amsterdam and the Faroes among other places David Hewson has returned to Nic Costa and Italy. The Savage Shore sees Nic Costa away from his native Rome on the Calabrian coast to assist the head of the ‘Ndrangheta who wants to become a government informant. Needless to say the task does not run smoothly. Available in trade paper in May $20.95.

What I'm Reading by Sian - The Missing Clue - April 2019

My reading goal for 2019 was to read 100 books and I thought based on the fact that I read 99 books in 2018 that it wouldn’t be much of a stretch. Well. I got a promotion at work that included a car so now instead of 2 hours and 40 minutes of reading available to me on the GO train I have…none of that. But I am not deterred!

I re-read Deborah Harkness’ ‘All Souls Trilogy’ every year so I was thrilled when she announced she was extending that universe to a new series beginning with Times Convert (still just available in hardcover). This is mostly the story of Marcus and Phoebe, but Matthew and Diana and the whole gang all make appearances. You really need to read the original trilogy to enjoy this one. Nothing will ever replace the experience of reading A Discovery of Witches for the first time, but I am happy to add this to the re-read pile.

I’d like to take credit for bringing Stella Rimington’s excellent ‘Liz Carlyle’ series to the store all those years ago, but I could be misremembering. At any rate, it’s not often a series has one of it’s best iterations at book #10, but she’s done it with The Moscow Sleepers. I would best characterize this series as ‘Gentle Spy Thriller’. It’s not to say there isn’t excitement and even violence, but the matter of fact way Rimington writes is so easy to read and her knowledge of the current espionage climate is second to none. Also still just available in hardcover, I would still recommend this to anyone who has an interest in spy thrillers or the current political climate. No need to have read the previous nine, although we have a handful in store.

Speaking of transformative reading experiences, Gail Carriger’s Soulless,the first in her ‘Parasol Protectorate’ series, just enthralled me (we have a single copy in used if you haven’t had the pleasure). I devoured all five books in that series. Less so her YA ‘Finishing School’ series. By the time Prudence, book #1 in the ‘Custard Protocol’ series, came around, Soulless seemed like a distant memory. It’s hard to imagine Alexia and Lord Maccon as crotchety older folk with their daughter Prudence as the heroine. Still, I finally got around to reading Competence, the third in this series, and the same Carriger magic is there. Indeed, I was delighted to see there was a fourth book, Reticence, coming in hardcover in August. I am also inspired to go back and reread Soulless.

Really, all I want to do these days is re-read old favorites and that got me back to Sarah Caudwell’s ‘Hilary Tamar’ series. I have re-read these four books probably 10 times each. I didn’t even realize until a few years ago that we actually never discover whether Hilary Tamar is a man or a woman. At any rate, we’ve got all four in store and I could not think of a more delightful series to dig into on a rainy Spring afternoon. You needn’t read them in order, they are all equally wonderful, although the technical order is as follows: Thus Was Adonis Murdered, The Shortest Way to Hades, The Sirens Sang of Murder, and The Sibyl in Her Grave.

Book Review: The Next to Die by Sophie Hannah - reviewed by Dakota

(Dakota is our co-op student from The Met School and agreed to tell us about his most recent read.)

This month I have read The Next to Die by Sophie Hannah. This book is about Kim Tribbeck a stand up comedian that gets caught up in an investigation into the “Billy Dead Mates” murders into which they are killing pairs of best friends. Before “Billy” kills their victims he sends them a small white book. Kim had gotten a book at a show she put on the year before.

I thought the book had a good plot idea and I really enjoyed reading it. There were some things about the book that I thought were really hard to follow like, the changes of characters perspectives between pages even though there was no chapter title break. I also didn’t like how when they changed the characters perspectives she had them all doing different things at the same time that correlated. I would give this book a 7/10.

Mystery Reading Club - The Missing Clue - April 2019

As a result of pushing back January’s Book Club meeting, we will be finishing our African American theme in April before moving on to our new spring theme, ‘Death in Government’.

Tuesday, February 26th – Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

Tuesday, April 30th – Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

Tuesday, May 28th – The Division Bell Mystery by Ellen Wilkinson
Tuesday, June 25th – The State Counsellor by Boris Akunin

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). New members are always welcome.