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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mystery Reading Club - The Missing Clue - October 2017

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

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

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

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

The Missing Clue - June 2017 - What Wendy is Reading

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

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

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

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

The Missing Clue - April 2017 - Mystery Reading Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Reviewed by Henry R.

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

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Reviewed by Joenna D., age 9

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

The Missing Clue - April 2017 - Whodunit Frequently Asked Questions

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

Are you buying used books?

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

Why don’t you buy used hardcovers?

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

Is Jack in?

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

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

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

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

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

The Missing Clue - April 2017 - Authors for Indies

Authors For Indies: Saturday, April 29th

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

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

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

The Missing Clue - February 2017 - Mystery Reading Club

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


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

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

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

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

The Missing Clue - February 2017 - Murder and Publishing by Wendy

One of the advantages of owning a book store is getting what are called ARCs (Advanced Readers Copies) In box that recently arrived there was a copy of a new book by Judith Flanders. One of my favorite books of 2016 was her A Murder of Magpies, the first title in a series set in a small publishing house based in London. Judith Flanders was born in England but grew up in Montreal. After university, she worked for 17 years as an editor in various UK publishing houses. Before venturing into fiction, she wrote a number of nonfiction books, including the 2011, The Invention of Murder. The subtitle of which was ‘How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Invented Modern Crime’. The main character in A Murder of Magpies, Sam Clair, is an editor. The character is believable and obviously the setting rings true. There are two further titles in the series, A Bed of Scorpions, (tp $22.99 due February 7th) and A Cast of Vultures (hc $36.99 due February 21st). If I have not tried to sell you A Murder of Magpies please think of trying it and if I have sold it to you A Bed of Scorpions is arriving imminently.

I went on to think about other titles that were set in publishing. P.D. James set Original Sin in the headquarters of the Peverell Press an old established publishing house. The offices are housed in a nineteenth century mock Venetian palace which is set on the banks of the River Thames in Wapping, London. Adam Dalgliesh works his usual magic to ferret out the murderer. We have a copy in used mass market (at time of press).

Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) also ventured into publishing in the second Cormoran Strike novel, Silkworm. It soon becomes clear to Cormoran Strike that what starts off as a bread and butter missing persons case, (missing author, worried wife, but he has done this before), is not straightforward. The author Owen Quine has just submitted a manuscript to his publishers which is full of less than charitable, easily recognizable portraits of people he knows. The publication of which is bound to cause mayhem if not worse. The discovery of Quine’s body leads Cormoran Strike into another murder investigation. I have really liked this series and hope that there will be another title soon. There have been rumours that one is coming but no definite date or title yet. We have the mass market in new in stock.

Another British series set in a publishing house is written by Julie Kaewert. The Plumtree Press is another well-established publishing house based in London. In Unsolicited, the first title in the series, the press is struggling to stay afloat but is about to publish what seems to be going to be a worldwide blockbuster. Unfortunately, the author goes missing with the last five chapters and a critic previewing the novel suggests that this is not fiction at all...It is left to Alex Plumtree, the present head of the company to sort it all out. There are six titles in this series and we have book #4 Untitled in new mass market and book #5 Unsigned in new and used mass market.

The main character in Barbara Rogan’s A Dangerous Fiction, (tp$17) is Jo Donovan a literary agent. Donovan is the senior partner is a prestigious New York literary agency as well as the widow of a famous American writer, Hugo Donovan. A disgruntled would be author begins to stalk Jo and then some of her authors, when added to an about to be published tell all, unauthorized biography of her dead husband and jealousies and rivalries in the company, our heroine has her hands full. We have A Dangerous Fiction in stock in new trade paperback.

Set in California, Marlys Millhiser’s main character is literary agent Charlie Green. Not all the titles in this series are involved with authors or publishing but they do provide a backdrop to the busy detecting life of this amateur sleuth mom. We have book #2, Death of the Office Witch, and book #3, Murder in a Hot Flash, in used mass market.

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

You’d know it if you saw me on my recent visit in January, but I’m expecting my first baby due in May. Needless to say, I’m trying to get in as much reading as possible before life is disrupted.

Our copies of The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch in mass market should be en route, but Mum surprised Michael and I with the UK hardcover edition, as she knows I like a good read on Boxing Day. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t in the least disappointed, although I did share some of Michael’s confusion about certain plot points mentioned. Turns out they were featured in the graphic novels, which have entirely original plotlines. We’ve got those in stock now though for anyone who needs to get caught up. I might recommend at least a reread of Foxglove Summer (book #6) as it was an awfully long time ago and took me awhile to get back up to speed.

It took us awhile, but we finally got our copies of Mary Russell’s War by Laurie R. King. This is a collection of short stories set in Mary Russell’s universe, some (2) of which have been published as e-originals and some (7) of which are new. They are by no means required reading if you read the series, but they do a nice job of filling in the blanks between books, in particularly Russell and Holmes actual wedding. There will be no new Mary Russell in 2017, so this is your shot at new content. You might read them as they belong in the series as part of a reread or all in one go. There should be a new Mary Russell in 2018 if King herself is to be believed. The Murder of Mary Russell is also coming in trade paperback in March. This wasn’t my favorite, but mostly because I don’t particularly care about Mrs. Hudson’s back story. If you do, you’ll certainly be pleased and intrigued.

I was on the hunt for new series to read as a distraction on Inauguration Day and found Design for Dying by Renee Patrick, a new series featuring the fictitious Lillian Frost and real-life costume designer Edith Head. This is a fun story set in 1930s Hollywood. We have it in stock in hardcover with the trade coming in May. Book #2, Dangerous to Know, is coming in hardcover in April. I was lucky enough to read an ARC but wasn’t quite as captivated due to the plotline surrounding Nazi sympathizers, which was suddenly a little too reminiscent of ongoing political issues for my liking.

We don’t generally like to recommend new series/authors in hardcover because we know it’s a big ask of you and your wallet, but I keep track of the ones that are worth it so I can call them out when they arrive in a more affordable trade paperback edition. A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain is one such title. Kendra Donovan is a hotshot FBI agent who somehow finds herself back in time in a 19th century English castle trying to solve a murder while pretending to be a lady’s maid. It took me a while to warm up to it, but by the end I was thoroughly enjoying myself. This book comes in trade paperback in April with a second book in hardcover A Twist in Time coming in April as well.

Kate Locke’s ‘The Immortal Empire’ is an odd little series that I read some years back in its original hardcover editions. We’ve got the first book God Save the Queen now in mass market with books 2 and 3 coming in February and March respectively. It’s a paranormal steampunk romance featuring humans, goblins, and British royalty. I would say it’s a bit grittier than Gail Carriger’s ‘Soulless’ series but well written and a fun read.

As to what I’m hoping to read before the baby’s born, I have book #5 in Gregory Harris’s ‘Colin Pendragon’ series The Endicott Evil in March. If you like Will Thomas or C.S. Harris, this series is very much in that vein. We’ve got books 2, 3, and 4 in stock in trade paperback. And speaking of C.S. Harris, book #12 in the ‘Sebastian St. Cyr’ series, Where the Dead Lie, is coming in hardcover in April. Sadly, book #11 When Falcons Fall is now coming in trade paperback rather than mass market. If you were holding out for a mass market, it doesn’t look like you’ll get one.

It’s a few years now since I judged the Arthur Ellis Award for best first novel, but I’m happy to say several books I enjoyed reading them have made it into series. Book #4 in Steve Burrows ‘Birder Murder Mystery’ series, A Shimmer of Hummingbirds, is coming in trade paperback in March and book #3 in Janet Brons ‘Forsyth and Hay’ series, Measured for Murder, is coming in trade paperback in April. The Burrows series features a Canadian DCI and is set in the UK while the Brons features an RCMP officer and a Scotland Yard DCI joining forces to solve crimes facing the Canadian community in London. That I can get beyond the birds in the Burrows is a miracle, although I am hoping that he applied the Bechdel test to this new book, as I found the really interesting female characters he has developed a little too focused on their menfolk.

Finally, I have to stop dragging it out and finish Elizabeth Peters ‘Amelia Peabody’ series. I’ve been savouring them and have four to go, but we just discovered that Joan Hess has completed the final book of the series, The Painted Queen, and it will be released in hardcover in July.

The Missing Clue - February 2017 - Bits and Bobs by Wendy

Feeling pretty excited as I have just received a packing slip that shows that Deborah Crombie’s new novel, The Garden of Lamentation, is about to be shipped. This is the 17th title in the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series. It has been too long (almost three years) since the previously published title in this series, To Dwell in Darkness. This remains one of my favourite series. We’ve got books 1,2, 6-10, 12, 14, and 15 in stock in a combination of new and used, mass market and trade paperback.

It is sometimes interesting how publishing works. Suddenly there will be a number of new books with the same theme/ background. Just recently we have received two new books by different authors set in Scotish bookshops. Shelton Paige’s, The Cracked Spine, (mm $10.99) is set in Edinburgh and is the first in a new series by this author. Molly Macrae has left the Haunted Yarn Shop and her new series is called Highland Bookshop Mystery. The first title is Plaid and Plagiarism (hc$34.95). We’ve got both in stock.

The Missing Clue - February 2017 - Crossover Crime Fiction by Jack

When you think about the contents of the Whodunit Mystery Bookstore, there are two possible ways of looking at it: one is that it’s a specialty bookstore with a very limited range of books, the other is that it is a specialty bookstore with an extremely wide range of books, stretching from Agatha Christie-type whodunits to cookie baker cozies to Sherlock Holmes to great spy novels to books set in about 50 different countries to steam punk and beyond. As co-proprietor, I choose to think of the store in its latter conceptualization. Moreover, the shop features an interesting assortment of “crossover” titles that defy easy categorization. In this category, I would put a fairly substantial number of books that involve fantasy elements about crime detection. The sort of books I mean are mainly British in origin; the Americans don’t need any fantasy about FF since they have Donald Trump.

For the most part the typical fantasy book involves a large dose of magic. Take Douglas Adams’ The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, for example. Adams made his international reputation with his space fantasy series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but followed this success with a detective series featuring Dirk Gently. The second volume of Gently, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, opens with the mysterious explosion of an airline ticket kiosk and follows the adventures of several elderly gods through the British private healthcare system, with all sorts of zany blackouts owing much to Monty Python along the way. We’ve got The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul in stock in new trade paperback and book #1 in the series, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, on order. Netflix’s dramatization of the series is available on, where else, Netflix in an initial 5 episode season.

There are robots. Adam Christopher’s Made to Kill stars the World’s last robot, Raymond Electromatic, formerly a private eye and now a hit man for hire. One day a beautiful young woman appears in his office with a bagful of gold bars and a job. He and his controller, a compute named Ada, are off and running in sixties Hollywood. We’ve got the book in stock in hardcover in new. Book #2, Killing is My Business, comes in hardcover in July.

Then there is George Mann’s The Affinity Bridge, a steampunk novel set in 19th-century London. The main task at hand it the investigation of the crash of an automated airship, although there are also strangulations by a mysterious bobby and a plague of zombies that must be resolved. There are four books in the series thus far and we’ve got them all in stock in new trade paperback. Book #5 comes in hardcover in January 2018.

I am personally very fond of police procedurals investigated by special units devoted to paranormal goings-on. These are always British. Perhaps the best illustration of this sub-genre is by Ben Aaronovitch. The first in a series of books by Aaronovitch is called Midnight Riot (or Rivers of London, in the UK, we have had both in stock) and features PC Peter Grant with the assistance of Lesley May who have been co-opted to the Economic and Specialist Crime Unit 9, a Scotland Yard unit also known as ‘The Folly’ headed by a wizard named Inspector Thomas Nightingale. The Folly is one of a number of fictional British crime units in these kinds of books devoted to the supernatural. Grant is a biracial young constable with magical capabilities who has come to the Force’s attention by successfully interviewing a ghost. This act sets off a series of actions and incredible events which stretch across six books and two graphic novels (i.e. expensive comic books). We’ve got all six books in stock in new mass market, The Hanging Tree (book #7) is on the way also in mass market, and the graphic novels in stock too.

After Aaronovitch comes Charles Stross, who has written eight novels in the ‘Laundry’ series. The Laundry is a British government agency along the lines of MI5 or MI6 which specializes in the paranormal. Stross has gotten more ambitious as he has gone along and his latest effort The Nightmare Stacks involves an invasion (called here an intrusion) into the British countryside around Leeds by a small army of extraterrestrials. We don’t currently have any in stock, but can order the first six titles in the series in mass market and The Nightmare Stacks in hardcover.

Guy Adams’ novel The Clown Service – that is what his British government agency consisting of one old man and a younger assistant recently sent there is nicknamed– also deals with the paranormal. So far there are three novels (also The Rain Soaked Bride and A Few Words for the Dead) and undoubtedly more will follow. We’ve got all three in stock in new trade paperback.

A recent entrant into this world of paranormal crime detection is Oscar de Muriel The Strings of Murder which is set in 1888 Edinburgh and features a Scotland Yard Inspector investigating under the cover of a made-up department specializing in the paranormal. We’ve got this first book in the series in new trade paperback. Books #2 and #3 seem to be coming this spring.

Saving the best for last: the master of modern fantasy is the recently deceased Terry Pratchett. One of his best novels of crime investigation is The Hogfather. The main crime is the kidnapping of a figure much like Santa Claus. His disappearance leaves a gaping hole in the world of belief which is very hard to fill. An enlarged tooth fairy just doesn’t hack it. The major investigator is Death’s granddaughter, a gal who is very handy with a frying pan to battle creatures under the bed of the children she looks after. We’ve got a copy in stock in new mass market. We can also recommend the film adaptation, available on DVD, starring Michelle Dockery of Downtown Abbey fame as Susan, Death’s granddaughter.

Fantasy really requires no more suspension of belief than sf novels about space travel. Try it sometime.

The Missing Clue - December 2016 - Recent Bestsellers

1.    Peter Robinson, When the Music's Over      
2.    Alexander McCall Smith, Precious and Grace          
3.    Alan Bradley, Thrice the Brindled Cat Hath Mewed
4.    Joanne Fluke, Christmas Caramel Murder   
5.    Ian Rankin, Rather Be the Devil        

Trade Paper
1.    Susan Ellia Macneal, The Queen's Accomplice
2.    Kate Ellis, The House of Eyes
3.    Stephen Booth, Secrets of Death          
4.    Allan Levine, The Bootlegger's Confession  
5.    Gord Downie, Secret Path                

Mass Market
1.    Sheila Connolly, Seeds of Deception         
2.    Sofie Kelly, Paws and Effect            
3.    Laura Childs, Parchment and Old Lace      
4.    Victoria Abbott, The Hammett Hex     
5.    Leslie Budewitz, Killing Thyme              

1.    Ian Rankin, Rather Be The Devil
2.    Ann Perry, A Christmas Message
3.    P.D. James, Mistletoe, Murder & Other Stories
4.    Charles Finch, The Inheritance
5.    Lee Child, Night School

Trade Paper
1.    Allan Levine, The Bootlegger’s Confession
2.    Ann Cleaves, Cold Earth
3.    Peter May, The Critic
4.    Andrea Camilleri, A Voice in the Night
5.    Charles Todd, No Shred of Evidence

Mass Market
1.    Victoria Thompson, Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue
2.    Shirley Rousseau Murphy, Cat Shout for Joy
3.    Vicki Delany, We Wish You A Murderous Christmas
4.    Kate Carlisle, Deck the Hallways
5.    Michael Connelly, The Crossing

The Missing Clue - December 2016 - Gift Guide: If They Liked This, They Might Like That

One of the most frequent requests we get over the holiday shopping season is to make a recommendation for a friend or loved one. We have our favourites of course, as seen in our picks for 2016, but we’re also happy to help you find another title. A Whodunit gift card is always appreciated, but for those times you’d like to make sure your giftee (or you!) has something under the tree they can read right away, we can offer some guidance. If you know they like a theme or genre, we can direct you to something similar they might like as much or more! The list as follows is based on our bestselling titles in Whodunit for 2016.

This: Set in a remote location like Peter May’s ‘Enzo Macleod Investigation’ or ‘Lewis Trilogy’
That: We’ve seen an influx of series set in remote locations in the British Isles and North Atlantic, most popular of which has been Peter May’s two series. May fans will also enjoy Chris Ould’s ‘Faroes’ series with The Blood Strand and upcoming The Killing Bay (February 2017) and Ann Cleeve’s ‘Shetland’ series which now numbers 7 titles, most recently Cold Earth. Next time you see Jack, as him about his time in the Hebrides (no murder, but he did lose his luggage).

This: Quirky and witty like The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and A Murder of Magpies
That: Wendy is your resident expert for matters quirky and witty, so any of her recommendations will be winners. Another series worth trying (if you haven’t already) via Jack’s recommendation is Alan Bradley’s ‘Flavia de Luce’ books. We’ve got all 8 titles in stock, including the most recent hardcover Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd.

This: British Historical Cozy (20th Century) like Rhys Bowen’s ‘Her Royal Spyness’ series
That: If you’ve seen the new Netflix series The Crown, you’ll know that royalty and politics have often been intertwined. If you don’t mind switching your focus from the palace to No. 10, Bowen fans will enjoy Susan Elia Macneal’s ‘Maggie Hope’ series. We’ve got all six titles in store, including the most recent trade paperback The Queen’s Accomplice.

This: Female sleuth like in Sue Grafton’s ‘Kinsey Millhone’ or Sara Paretsky’s ‘V.I. Warshawski’ series
That: We’ve got lots of options for female sleuths, but a more recent (British) addition to the genre is Kerry Wilkinson’s ‘Jessica Daniel’ series. We’ve got a handful in store.

This: Scottish police procedural like Ian Rankin’s ‘John Rebus’ series
That: Here’s another genre where you’ve got lots of options, but might we suggest Denise Mina? She’s got three series, but we mostly have her ‘Alex Morrow’ series, with several titles in new and used.

This: British Police Procedural written by a Canadian author like Peter Robinson’s ‘Inspector Banks’ series
That: Steve Burrows is a Canadian author whose ‘Birder Murder Mystery’ series is a police procedural set in the UK (albeit with a Canadian Chief Inspector). Don’t let the bird theme put you off, the bird-phobic Bumsted who shall remain nameless was the series biggest fan! We’ve got the first three books in store.

This: Historical Espionage like Gavin Scott’s The Age of Treachery
That: Jack is your man to talk to about spy fiction. Some of his favourites include Aly Monroe’s ‘Peter Cotton’ series (although all the titles are proving a little hard to get, we’ve got Washington Shadow in stock) and Ariana Franklin’s standalone City of Shadows. Wendy would also add Jane Thynne’s ‘Clara Vine’ series (she is married to Philip Kerr, another Jack favourite), of which we have several.


This: Food themed cozy like Joanne Fluke’s ‘Hannah Swenson series’
That: Stand in front of our ‘New in Mass Market’ shelf, stick out your hand, and you’ll no doubt grab a cozy with food as part of the theme. But if you want a specific recommendation, try JoAnna Carl’s ‘Chocaholic’ series, which has an equally sweet backlist and lots of fun holiday tie-ins.

This: British Historical Cozy (Victorian) like Emily Brightwell’s ‘Mrs Jeffries’ series
That: We’re coming up on book #36 in the Mrs. Jeffries series, but we’d like to offer the first in a brand-new series as something else to try. Kate Saunders’ The Secrets of Wishtide launches the ‘Laetitia Rodd Mystery Series’ with more books to come.

This: Canadian Female Sleuth like Gail Bowen’s ‘Joanne Kilbourn’ series
That: Joanne Kilbourn started as a reluctant amateur sleuth whereas the protagonist in Janet Brons ‘Forsyth and Hay’ series, RCMP Inspector Liz Forsyth, is a professional detective, but both these series feature strong and interesting Canadian women solving crimes (it is 2016, afterall). We’ve got the first two Brons in stock.

This: Modern British cozy like Hazel Holt’s ‘Sheila Malory’ series
That: Sadly, Hazel Holy passed away in 2015 so there will be no further ‘Sheila Malory’ titles. Still, Rebecca Tope’s ‘Thea Osborne’ and ‘Lake District Mysteries’ series can both ably fill the void.

This: Post War WWI like Jacqueline Winspear’s ‘Maisie Dobbs’ series
That: This is an easy one! Jacqueline Winspear fans will find that Charles Todd’s ‘Bess Crawford’ series fits like a (medical) glove. We’ve got the most recent titles in store.  A post WWII equivalent would be Iona Whishaw’s Lane Winslow series. We have the first title, A Killer in King’s Cove, in stock.

This: Historical with an unusual female sleuth like Darcie Wilde’s ‘Rosalind Thorne’ series
That: Of course, you may not have realized you wanted to read a historical mystery with an unusual female sleuth (Sian’s specialty), in which case you’d start with An Unusual Woman, her book of the year. But assuming you loved that book, why not try Caro Peacock’s ‘Liberty Lane’ series or Deanna Raybourn’s newest ‘Veronica Speedwell’ series?

This: Unusual British male sleuth(s) like Christopher Fowler’s ‘Bryant and May’ series
That: Why, Michael’s book of the year The Vinyl Detective Mysteries: Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel will fit the bill perfectly here. Other options would include store favorites Ben Aaronovitch and Michael Robertson.

This: Historical with romantic partners as sleuths like Anne Perry’s ‘Charlotte and Thomas Pitt’ series
That: There are more of these to choose from than you might think, but our resident expert Sian recommends particularly C.S. Harris’s ‘Sebastian St. Cyr’ series as well as book of the year author Tasha Alexander’s ‘Lady Emily’ series and Deanna Raybourn’s ‘Lady Julia Grey’ series.

This: Atmospheric modern European detective fiction like Donna Leon’s ‘Guido Brunetti’ series
That: Andrea Camilleri’s ‘Inspector Montalbano’ and Cara Black’s ‘Aimee Leduc’ series are both well established players in the genre. We’ve got lots of both in stock.

This: “Grip Lit” like Paula Hawkin’s The Girl on the Train
That: The great thing about psychological thrillers is that they are often standalone novels, so you don’t need to commit to a whole series or track down the first book. Might we suggest Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris or The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell?

The Missing Clue - December 2016 - Mystery Reading Club Winter Session

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

Tuesday, January 31st – Elsa Hart, Jade Dragon Mountain

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

Tuesday, March 28th – M.J. Carter, The Strangler Vine

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