Bumsted Picks of 2018 - Laura's Pick - The Missing Clue - December 2018

In Valhalla’s Shadows by W.D. Valgardson, HC, $32.95

Although I only had half a year of working at the shop to judge from, my Book of the Year 2018 is W.D Valgardson's In Valhalla's Shadows. Valgardson paints a gritty and immersive portrait of rural Manitoba from the perspective of an outsider in a tight-knit community on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. Valgardson's own experience growing up in Gimli is evident in his sense of place and his portrayal of the local community. His protagonist, Tom Parsons, is an ex-RCMP officer and recent divorcee, and has uprooted his life to find solace in the tiny lakeside community of Valhalla. Unfortunately, his discovery of the body of an indigenous teenage girl sets off a string of events in the town, after Tom refuses to see her death as an accident. He discovers the criminal underbelly of what may be seen by outsiders as an idyllic town. Valgardson sprinkles Viking legend throughout the book, making allusions in the place name, Valhalla; casting Tom Parson as the Norse god, Odin; his love interest named Freyja, reminiscent of the Norse goddess of the same name; and three fortune-telling sisters, as the Norns (the fates). I thought that it added much to the story, and while dealing with quite different events, did seem to fit the narrative (and length) of a Viking saga.

A sure sign of a good book, I found it difficult to put down, and even when absolutely necessary to do so, I still found myself thinking about the book. The pressures that the characters were dealing with are not simple, and I think that was what made it so engrossing - so many of the actions of the characters fell into a sort of grey area, people trying to make do with what they could in order to survive.

Bumsted Picks of 2018: Penelope's Pick - The Missing Clue - December 2018

At 19-months, Penelope has a good number of words, but is as yet unable to answer questions like “what was your favorite book of the year?” So I will have to allow her actions to speak louder than her words. We read Maisy Goes to the Local Bookstore at least three times a day. Penelope never tires of it. We have owned it for less than a year and it is already taped together on most pages from love and use. And we hope that you’ll bring your little ones to our local bookstore to visit us over the holidays!

Bumsted Picks of 2018: Michael's Pick - The Missing Clue - December 2018

The Irregular by HB Lyle, TP $20.49

The early twentieth century is not normally a setting that I am drawn to. Until I had chosen Joe Ide's book for my book of the year, Sherlock Holmes pastiche would not have been either. This year however, despite truly enjoying a number of novels that would have fit more into my choices of the past, it was HB Lyle's debut spy novel The Irregular that has created made me consider both the period and the Holmesian oeuvre as a whole. Lyle's protagonist, Wiggins is, one of the orphans trained by the Great Detective to be his Baker St Irregulars. Now an adult, and with the Empire facing new challenges, Wiggins is encouraged by Holmes to work for Vernon Kell's new 'Secret' Service: the first non-gentleman agent to become a member.

Well grounded in the history of London and (England) in the build-up to World War One, and framed within the canon of Sherlock, it is nonetheless a refreshing and finely crafted narrative with a refreshing villian and twist. Any fans of historical fiction would do well to pick this up, as would anyone with an interest in the development of modern spycraft, or just new stories with Holmes in mind.

Bumsted Picks of 2018: Sian's Pick - The Missing Clue - December 2018

When it comes time every year for me to pick my favourite book, I scroll my Goodreads records for books I’ve rated five stars. This year I rated 16 books with five stars: 11 romance novels, three mysteries, one fantasy, and one non-fiction. Of the three mysteries, the first was Laurie R. King’s Island of the Mad and the second was Vivian Shaw’s Dreadful Company. I adored both books, but I picked Vivian Shaw last year (and certain persons who shall remain nameless don’t like it when I do that). Island of the Mad was a strong contender, until I read Sherry Thomas’ The Hollow of Fear in October.

It is an extraordinary book. Despite being set in Victorian England it manages to address modern issues like gender equality in a way appropriate to the setting. Romance is featured but emphatically not the only element that drives the story. And I did not see the ending coming at all. This is an excellent mystery, a heart-tugging romance, but above all a story about the choices that women are forced to make in order to preserve their livelihoods and their sanity. Look, you absolutely must read the first two books (A Study in Scarlet Women and A Conspiracy in Belgravia) to enjoy this one, but I am so jealous because that means you get to read the three in quick succession and I could not think of a better way to read my way through the holidays.

Bumsted Picks of 2018: Wendy's Pick -

In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green, TP $21.99, (coming in mass market January 29th, $12.99)

Cass Green is a British writer whose first book, The Woman Next Door, was originally published as an e-book. It quickly became a number 1 best seller. In a Cottage in a Wood is her second novel. Although not a fan of ‘grip lit’ or ‘domestic noir’ as it is now often called, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the settings, London and Cornwall and I found the characters generally likeable and believable. The plot moved along at a good pace. It was everything a good mystery should be, engaging and not too long.

Bumsted Picks of 2018: Jack's Pick - The Missing Clue - December 2018

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith, HC $38

Lethal White is the fourth novel in the ‘Cormoran Strike' series written by Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series. I knew that it was a winner when I read the first book The Cuckoo’s Calling, when no one knew that Robert Galbraith was a nom-de-plume, for J.K. Rowling. I must admit to a few initial misgivings about Lethal White as the beginning of the book seemed a little heavy on romance, including a long sub plot involving Strike’s failed romantic relationships. However, as the book went on it returned to form. I really enjoyed all the details that were added to enhance the four interlocking storylines that make up this novel. Galbraith is a good enough writer that I really cared what was happening in all the storylines, all of which offered considerable scope for detail which the author took advantage of. Also the author handled with panache the flicking between the different storylines. A compelling and enjoyable read.

Mystery and Reality Collide: White House Edition - The Missing Clue - October 2018

After reading the article Wendy wrote for this edition of the newsletter, I realised that there is one more of these mystery-reality collisions which is very much in the forefront of our stock at the moment.  Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward, would not be something that we would normally have had in our old space, but the demand we had for it upon its release has meant we have kept a few copies to hand.  However, the realities of that book are being paralleled in a number of recent books, from the only recently announced The Kingfisher Secret by Anonymous to Jake Tapper's Hellfire Club this past spring.  While Bill Clinton and James Patterson wrote a relatively down the line thriller for The President is Missing, and Tapper, as well as Murder in the Lincoln White House author C.M. Gleason kept their works ensconced in the past, it is the anonymous author of The Kingfisher Secret that has really gone all in on what is happening down south.  Keeping their quiet to protect their identity, the author has written the "speculative" notion that perhaps some of the rumors surrounding the current White House are true...

Of course, if you are looking for a reprieve from the churning thriller plot lines of our southern neighbours, why not the nostaglia of the previous administration Hope Never Dies, the Joe Biden as detective novel by Andrew Shaffer, is light, fun and pleasant, if a little on the nose.

Mystery and Reality Collide by Wendy - The Missing Clue - October 2018

Last autumn I was reading Tasha Alexander’s  Death in St Petersburg, the twelfth title in the Lady Emily series. . In this book Lady Emily and her husband Colin Hargraves are visiting Russia.  After an evening at the ballet they come across the body of one of the prima ballerinas. This death leads them into the demi monde world of dancers and their royal and aristocratic lovers.  Just as I was finishing the book there was a story on BBC Newsworld about a new movie that was creating some controversy in Russia.  The movie which was called Matilda, described a relationship between Tsar Nicholas II and ballerina Matilda Kshesinkaya, which occurred before Nicholas was married to Princess Alix of Hesse.  As Nicholas and his family are, due to their murders, regarded as almost saint like by many Russians, the movie was seen as almost blasphemous. We’ve got Death in St.Petersburg, in stock in trade paperback at $22.50.

The eleventh installment of Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee series is being released in December.  A couple of weeks ago I was reading an advanced copy of the book which is called The Goddess of Yantai. Much of the plot centres around the problems that Ava’s friend Chinese film actress Pang Fai is having with the China Movie Syndicate. This body seems to control all aspects of film production e.g. which actors are given important roles, and distribution how, when and where films are released etc. Almost the next day there was a lot of coverage in various media outlets about the disappearance of Fan Bingbing, described as “China’s most famous actress”. She was one of China’s highest paid stars, having appeared in many Chinese and Western movies including the X Men franchise.  Fan has not been seen in public since early July and there were suggestions that she had been banned from acting. Much of the media commentary about this disappearance is eerily reminiscent of Hamilton’s novel. The Goddess of Yantai, is due to be released on December 4th in trade paperback at $19.95.

A customer who was in the store last week recounted a similar experience.  A long time fan of Gerald Seymour, who if you don’t know him is a British writer who writes stand alone military thrillers, she had on her previous visit bought a copy of Jericho’s War. But what had struck her while reading the novel, which is set in Yemen was how the fighting around Hodeidah which she saw on the television news echoed the book she was reading. We are sold out of Jericho’s War (mass market $10.99) and waiting for new copies to arrive but we do have a number of his other titles in stock, in both new and used.

One of the talking heads on television during the recent Supreme Court kerfuffle has been mystery writer Linda Fairstein. Fairstein is the author of twenty Alexandra Cooper novels. Alexandra Cooper like her creator is a senior sex crimes investigator in Manhattan. The twentieth novel, Blood Oath, is being released in March 2019. My favourite book in the series is Killer Look, published in 2016 and available in mass market. Please check out our stock of new and Linda Fairstein novels next time you are in the store. Killer Look (#18 in the series) is in stock in mass market for $10.99 and Deadfall #19 is in stock in mass market $12.99.

Classic Mystery Collections - The Missing Clue - October 2018

Those of you who have been visiting us over the last few years, then you have probably been made aware of the classic British mysteries that we have been getting through the British Library. I am quite certain that this series of late 19th-early 20th century works, with its attractive railway mural covers, will continue to be featured here in the new Whodunit?, and if you are interested in reading some of the lost classics of the genre, you should check the series out on the shelf we keep them all together on (or in the link above if you receive this by email).

This is not the only one of these collections that exist, although it has proven to be the most popular. The Detective Club Crime Classics, which actually contain a number of the same works as the British Library series, has not seemed to inspire the same level of devotion from our readers. A part of this may be that this series comes in the dreaded hardcover, even if it is a hardcover that is comparably priced to the British Library paper editions. Many of these authors and titles have also been released in previous, similar collections, and can also be found in their earlier formats in our used section. We do not have many of these in the shop at the time of this printing, but if you are looking for a starting point to build a mystery library of your own (or for someone else), we can order them for you.

While both of those series have a British focus, the god-father of American mystery bookshops, and, in some ways, American mysteries themselves, Otto Penzler has started a series of American Mystery Classics in response. Penzler, through Black Lizard/Vintage Crime has been re-releasing American mysteries for many years, and have also started to bring out compendium editions to look at some of the more famous works. This series is mostly going to be released in 2019, but they have bright attractive art, and are by some of the most notable names in the genre.

On the international scene, Pushkin Vertigo is also releasing some of the biggest names of Europe and Asia in another matching collection.  Masako Togawa's Japanese thrillers are already here, and Swiss master Friedrich Durrenmatt will be among the other authors who will feature in the first year of this imprint's releases.

Of course, if you are not familiar with any of these authors, or feel overwhelmed just by the idea of starting on something that could be considered a "Crime Classic", we are always ready to be of any extra help that you might need.

Growing Pains, Upcoming Events, Ordering Online & Other Services - The Missing Clue - October 2018

Growing Pains

We have been in our wonderful new space for just over a month know, and for those who have visited us more than once, you will have noticed the incremental adjustments that are being made.  We would like to thank all of you who have been patient with us as books have moved from floors to shelves and back again as we get the final touches ready on the space.  As the autumn goes on, things will continue to shift and move as we settle on where we want everything to be, and what extra things we want to share with you. 

Especial thanks must go to Gaylene Chesnut and the other volunteers who have gotten the books into shape to be put on the shelves when they are finally ready!

Upcoming Events

While we have had a few author visits (check out our social medias), we are very excited to confirm that we are on track to be having our first official event featuring CC Benison (Doug Whiteway)! Starting at 3pm on that Sunday we will be launching his new novel Paul is Dead with an author's reading, signing, and treats! We are thrilled that we can also announce that this is actually a pre-launch event, meaning that those of you who get the book from us will be getting it before the official release of the book. We would like to thank Signature Editions, the publisher, for the confidence in us to be able to be given this exclusive.

Watch out for more information as we get nearer to the date. Having such a flexible space means that we have fully decided where we are going to set Doug up, and what the set up will look like, so there will be hints to that as we move through October. Doug is always popular with you, our readership, so we have ordered lots of books, and space will no longer be an issue (remember the two session launch we had for Twelve Drummers Drumming?), but if you want to be sure of getting a copy, you can pre-order one starting today by using the webstore, by phone, email, or by stopping in. If you cannot attend, we can also make sure you get a signed edition.

Ordering Online & Other Extra Services

For those of you who have not been able to visit us yet, or who are reluctant to show up while there are still books on the floor, it is worth reminding all of you that you can order online from our entire catalogue! Whether you cannot make it in, or just do not want to root through the shelves and stacks, by ordering online you can choose to have it mailed, to pick up in the store (for those who also may want to browse), or get FREE delivery within the city. You do not even have to pay before we confirm that the books are here and waiting for you!

Did you also know that regardless of the genre of book you want, if we can acquire it for you, we are more than happy to order it. Also, you can use our webstore to order gifts for people locally, and far away. So if you have a child/grandchild/cousin/parent who needs a book, please consider letting us help you. Also, if you are the kind of person who gets a gift from one of the above, you can use the online ordering function to build a wish list so that we know what they should be looking to buy you!

Of course, for those of you who do not fancy using the webstore, or who love the thrill of the hunt in person, we are still here and open to allow you to do so. If you ever find yourself wanting to visit outside of normal hours, Michael is happy to stay longer or show up early to let you shop. In fact, Michael will be moving even closer to the shop at the end of October, and will be just a hop, skip and a jump away!

Fall Mystery Reading Clue - The Missing Clue - August 2018

For the fall, the theme is London and we will be reading:

Tuesday, September 25th – Proof of Guilt by Charles Todd

Tuesday, October 30th – She’s Leaving Home by William Shaw

Tuesday, November 27th – Stranger on the Train by Abbie Taylor

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

Bestselling Children's Books

Our new space allows us to show off our collection of children’s books to a greater advantage.  The area is not quite finished but it is certainly more spacious than the crammed bookshelves at 165.  As customers have undoubtedly noticed the children’s section has grown quite a lot over the past couple of years. 

Here is a list of the top ten titles for the last fifteen years:

1.      Lindsay Mattick, Finding Winnie

2.      Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons

3.      Gail Carriger, Etiquette & Espionage

4.      Russell Punter, Scaredy Cat

5.      Kate Beaton, The Princess and the Pony

6.      Jenny Nimmo, Midnight For Charlie Bone

7.      Olivier Tallec, Who Done It?

8.      Emily Bone, 50 Secret Codes Cards

9.      Trenton Lee Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society

10.  Jo Nesbo, Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder

One of the interesting features of this list is the longevity of popularity of some of these titles, from the 1930s to 2016. Charlie Bone, for instance, was originally published in 2002, it is still in print and a steady seller.

July 2018 Bestsellers - The Missing Clue - August 2018

We are very pleased that our No 1 bestseller over all book types was Graham Reed’s, The Chairman’s Toys.  Reed is an ex-Winnipeger and won Poisoned Press’ annual competition for unpublished mystery novels. The prize was publication of the novel.  We also hear that there will be another novel coming next year.  We highly recommend this well written novel, which we are having trouble keeping in stock.

Trade Papers

1.      Graham Reed,  The Chairman’s Toys

2.      Daniel Silva, The Other Woman

3.      Paul Doherty,  Dark Serpent

4.      Peter James, Dead if You Don’t

5.      Anthony Horowitz,  The Word is Murder

6.      Dinah Jeffries, The Sapphire Widow

7.      William Shaw,  She’s Leaving Home

8.      Vaseem Khan, Murder at the Grand Raj Palace

9.      E.C.R. Lorac,  Bats in the Belfry

10.   Robert Bryndza,  Girl in the Ice

Mass Markets

1.      Rhys Bowen, On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service

2.      M.C. Beaton,  The Witches Tree

3.      Baker Bree, Live and Let Chai

4.      J.C. Eaton,  Staged 4 Murder

5.      Rose Pressey,  Passion For Haunted Fashion

6.      Bernard Cornwell,  Fools and Mortals

7.      Elizabeth Peters,  The Painted Queen

8.      Lorna Barrett, A Just Clause

9.      Dan Brown, Origin

10.   Linda Fairstein,  Deadfall

What I'm Reading by Sian - The Missing Clue - August 2018

I have to confess that a good deal of what I’ve been reading the last few months has been easy to read historical romances (I have all kinds of recommendations if you’re interested), but the mysteries I have read have been five star.

            I gave the first ten ‘Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes’ books by Laurie R. King five stars. Book #11, The Pirate King, was definitely not my favorite, nor were books #12 (Garment of Shadows) or #14 (The Murder of Mary Russell). Which is all to say, you never know what to expect when a series reaches its adolescence. Well, I thought book #15, Island of the Mad, was really excellent. Not my favorite in the series, but most certainly five stars. It’s still only available in hardcover, so expect the trade paperback sometime next year.

            I have already been told that I am not allowed to pick a book in the same series by the same author as my book of the year two years in a row, so you should know that barring a miracle, my official pick for 2018 will be my second favorite book. That’s because I thought Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw, the second book in her Dr. Greta Helsing series, was just wonderful. Really. This series is so fun and fresh and different and ticks all my boxes (strong female protagonist, vampires, werewolves, and romance). These are the smartest paranormal fantasy books I have ever read. If you found Gail Carriger’s books a little twee, this serious will be the balm you were looking for. We’ve got Strange Practice, book #1 in the series, in stock for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure. Book #3, Grave Importance, should be released next summer.

            But look, there is hope. My To Read pile is a mile high. There is the new Deborah Harkness in her new series, Time’s Convert, to come in September. And book #3 in Sherry Thomas’ ‘Lady Sherlock’ series The Hollow of Fear. Plus, I didn’t actually read Strange Practice, my book of the year last year, until a week or so before I had to make my selection.

Miscellaneous New Books of Note by Wendy - The Missing Clue - August 2018

Although there is no firm publication date as yet, the third and final installment of Hilary Mantell’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy is on its way. It is to be called The Mirror and the Light. No publication date has been announced as yet.

C.J. Sansom’s Tombland, the seventh Mathew Shardlake, is set in 1549, three years after the previous title Lamentation. This time Shardlake, based in Norwich, will be embroiled in the events of Kett’s Rebellion. On sale October 23rd in hardcover at $36.00.

Ann Cleeves is finishing off her Shetland series. The final Jimmy Perez novel, Wild Fire, will be released in late September in trade paper at $28.99.

Cormoran Strike will also be returning in September in Lethal White. This is the fourth Robert Galbraith, a.k.a. J.K. Rowling, novel and will be available in hardcover on September 18th for $38.00.

Baby Penelope’s Favorite Books by Sian - The Missing Clue - August 2018

One of the reasons that the children’s section at Whodunit has been growing is that Mum (Wendy to you and Nain to her grandchildren) loves to send her grandchildren books. In fact, she has her own book club for them and sends books to both coasts for her eight grandchildren. The selection of books we carry does often narrow in on the ages of the grandchildren, but now that they range from ages 16 months to 23 years, it’s fair to say that we cover a lot of ground.

            The (not so recent now) addition of Baby Penelope has meant that our collection of board books is growing further. In a surprise to no one, Penny is a voracious reader and loves nothing more than to be read to or spend some quiet time in a corner “reading”. Here are our favourite books so far.

            The very first book that Penny actually connected with was purchased for her by her Aunt Hannah, who swore that she would be obsessed with it. Baby Talk has 14 pages and six flaps and features photos of babies. This is the book she learned to turn pages with and when we get to the page where the book says “This baby wants her mommy”, Penny will say “Mama”, just like the baby in the book. This is my number one recommendation for baby’s first library.

            Penny’s Grandma introduced her to Mother Goose at a very young age and we were thrilled to find this board book by Barbara Reid, Sing a Song of Mother Goose. Reid is Canadian and the illustrations are done in plasticine. These are abbreviated versions of the rhymes we’re all so familiar with and Penny loves them all.

            We, Michael and I, grew up reading the delightful stories by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, with The Jolly Postman: Or Other People’s Letters being a personal favorite. Penny is still a little young for it, but their books for babies, Peepo and Each Peach Pear Plum are favorites. These are sturdy board books and not too tedious to read more than once. The Baby’s Catalogue, also by the Ahlberg’s, isn’t really for reading out loud, but Penny loves browsing through it on her own.

The great thing about having friends with slightly older kids is that they can recommend, or ever better gift, books. A dear friend from high school bought Penny The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Bus Stops by Taro Gomi. Both books are lovely, but more importantly, feature non-Caucasian characters, which is so important in terms of exposing our kids to people who don’t look like them.

I have to admit that there was a certain futility attached to the idea of reading books to Penny before bed when she was tiny. Partly because she didn’t care and partly because our bedtime routine hadn’t really been established. But once she moved to her crib in her own room at six months, we started a more formal bedtime routine. At this point, I read the same four books every night. We start with the gorgeous Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin, then the soporifically repetitive Sleepyhead by Karma Wilson, we read about how Spot Loves Bedtime by Eric Hill, and then we finish with the classic Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton (even though Uncle Michael is in a rage that they shower and brush teeth BEFORE they exercise). I know all these books now by heart and in fact, Penny doesn’t want to look at the actual Going to Bed Book as she would rather just snuggle while I recite it.

Finally, if there is one book that Penny requests to be read OVER and OVER and OVER again, it is Maisy Goes to the Local Bookstore by Lucy Cousins. It’s bred in the bone, I guess.

            As always, we’d love to hear the books that the children in your life are loving so that we can share them with other kids.

Finally! We Moved! The Missing Clue - August 2018

Where did August go? Certainly as far as the newsletter is concerned it just disappeared, and our August issue seems to be verging on being called the September issue. Anyway, this last weekend we started our move from 165 Lilac Street to 163 Lilac Street. The move was maybe not quite as seamless as we had hoped, there are many piles of books on the floor despite the best efforts of all of us including former owner Gaylene Chesnut who has been working diligently on shelving. Anyway, the move is complete, the counter is in place, all the books have been moved, and the book shelves from 165 Lilac have gone to new homes thanks to Habitat for Humanity’s Restore Store

One of the advantages of our move to 163 Lilac Street will be that we will have the space to have all our used books on the main floor, where customers will actually be able to see them. In preparation for this all the books were brought up from the basement of 165, dusted, checked over and assigned thirteen digit numbers, if they did not already have them. It was an interesting task, authors I had never heard, authors I had forgotten I liked. We hope that you will find some long lost favourites and some new to you authors in the collection. As the majority of our books are now accessible in our inventory, you can check out our holdings by going to the online bookstore. If there is anything you like, you can order it and it will be waiting at the store the next time you come in.

Mystery Reading Club - The Missing Clue - June 2018

Our final book for spring in the theme “Books that Jack Enjoys”:

Tuesday, June 26th – Dark Saturday by Nicci French

For the fall, the theme is London and we will be reading:

Tuesday, September 25th – Proof of Guilt by Charles Todd

Tuesday, October 30th – She’s Leaving Home by William Shaw

Tuesday, November 27th – Stranger on the Train by Abbie Taylor

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