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 - 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 - June 2016 - My Recent Reading by Wendy

I have just finished reading, The Arc of the Swallow, the second title in S,J. Gazan’s Soren Marhauge series. Set in Copenhagen, this book as well as the first centres around the University of Copenhagen’s Science complex. The death of world famous biologist Kristian Storm, just when his findings that vaccination sometimes causes more problems than it solves in sub-saharan Africa are being discussed. The investigation into the death leads to conflict with the World Health Organization and Big Pharma. The death of Kristian Storm provokes dissension not only in academic circles but also within the Copenhagen Police Dept. Soren Marhauge is not enjoying his newly promoted position as Chief Superintendent as it involves too much paperwork and not enough detection. Professional disagreements with his deputy and personal disagreements with his partner Anna lead Soren to drastic action. I think this book will appeal to readers of Helene Tursten and Lisa Marklund as well as fans of mysteries set in the academy.

Susie Steiner, has worked for a number of British newspapers, most recently The Guardian. Missing, Presumed...is her first mystery novel. Edith Hind, a graduate student at Cambridge University is missing. Her disappearance, not discovered for almost 24 hours, is made even more complicated by two facts.  Her father is a surgeon to the Royal Family and a close friend of the Home Secretary, who in the UK is in charge of policing. Also the Cambridgeshire Police Force is still smarting from criticism of an earlier missing person case which went disastrously wrong.  I am generally ambivalent about novels which are divided into chapters which are headed by the names of the characters and present their perspective, as I sometimes find that this interrupts the flow of the story. However, in this case I did not find it a hindrance. I hope that we will continue to follow the career of the lead detective Manon Bradshaw.

Many of our customers know that it is my habit when heading off to an appointment, or sometimes home at the end of the day, to pick something off the used shelves to read. This past week it was a used copy of John Buchan’s Greenmantle that ended up in my bag. I first read John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps, the first in the Richard Hannay series, as a set book when I was in the UK equivalent of Middle School. I subsequently read the other titles but Greenmantle became and remains my favourite. Reading it this time for the first time in a number of years it dawned on me how much of a romantic Buchan was. He believed in goodness and honour.  Of course having finished Greenmantle, I had to read the rest of the series, and yes I enjoyed all of them.  These books are what used to be called a really good yarn. A few of the concepts might upset some modern day readers, but no more than Dorothy Sayers or Ngaio Marsh.

The Missing Clue - April 2016 - Mysteries on TV by Wendy

Masterpiece Mystery

On Sunday, March 26th the second series of Grantchester will begin. There will be six episodes. The fifth book in the Grantchester series, Sidney Chambers and the Dangers of Temptation, is being published in June (trade paper, $22).

On Sunday, May 8th the last series based on Henning Mankell’s character, Kurt Wallander, will begin. Wallander: The Final Season will include material from the last Wallander novel, The Troubled Man. Mankell’s autobiography, Quicksand, was published in the UK this past February. No date yet on a North American edition.

Other programmes

Part II of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, will air on CBC on Monday, April 4th. N or M, which is part of the Tommy and Tuppence series, has also been made into a TV movie. Both these titles have been issued with TV tie-in covers and we have them in stock, but we also have used copies of earlier editions.

Joanne Fluke’s A Plum Pudding Murder and Peach Cobbler Murder were shown on Hallmark earlier this year, a channel we do not get. I did see The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder which was released in 2015 on W fairly recently. I thought that it was very well done so I am hoping to catch up with the others. Joanne Fluke’s 19th, Hannah Swensen mystery, Wedding Cake Murder, is in stock (hardcover, $28.95).

Kate Collins ‘Flower Shop Mysteries’ are also being made into TV movies. Brooke Shields plays the part of Abby Knight, in Mum’s the Word. The newest Kate Collins, Moss Hysteria, will be in the store in early April (mass market, $10.49).