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We Only Carry Mysteries .... But We Can Order Almost Anything!

 

New Author Signings

Saturday November 15th at Noon - Maia Chance signs Snow White Red-Handed

In 1867, a frustrated American actress talks her way into a job as lady’s maid to a millionaire’s bride. What she didn’t anticipate is that the happy couple would leave for his storybook castle in Germany. Soon, a series of bad things take place: the ruins of Snow White’s cottage are found with the remains of a dwarf inside and the new groom is murdered via poisoned apple. Everyone looks at Ophelia the actress with suspicion and she’s in a Grimm spot of trouble.

Wednesday November 19th at Noon - F. Paul Wilson signs Fear City

Rage, terror, and redemption: these are the stones upon which F. Paul Wilson builds the concluding chapter of Repairman Jack: The Early Years, the prequel trilogy focusing on the formative years of Wilson's globally popular supernatural tropubleshooter. The strands of Jack's life, established in the first two books, Cold City and Dark City, are now woven into a complete pattern.  Centered around an obscure group of malcontents intent on creating a terrible explosion in New York City in 1993, Fear City shows the final stages of young Jack becoming Repairman Jack.

Signed Books! Get 'm Before They Are Gone!

Louise Penny - The Long Way Home

While Gamache doesn’t talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache’s help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. “There’s power enough in Heaven,” he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, “to cure a sin-sick soul.” And then he gets up. And joins her.

Together with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and Myrna Landers, they journey deeper and deeper into Québec. And deeper and deeper into the soul of Peter Morrow. A man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist, he would sell that soul. And may have. The journey takes them further and further from Three Pines, to the very mouth of the great St. Lawrence river.  To an area so desolate, so damned, the first mariners called it the land God gave to Cain. And there they discover the terrible damage done by a sin-sick soul. 

Deborah Harkness - The Book Of Life

Fran Recommends:

When Deborah Harkness came in to sign The Book of Life, talking with her inspired me to re-read the first two, to read the completed trilogy as a whole. So I started with Discovery of Witches, continued with Shadow of Night and finished up the trilogy four days after I started the whole journey again.

Man, are these good books!

For those who are already in love with the “All Souls” books, Ms. Harkness fulfills the promise of the first two books. Her resolutions to the various problems, including what Ashmole 782 really is and can do, and how it relates to Diana, is beautifully complex, and is completely satisfying. She’s left herself openings to continue in this world if she wants to, but if she doesn’t, that’s fine too, although I hope she does come back to it, because I really love these people.

For those who are unfamiliar with the trilogy, Diana Bishop is a professor of history focusing on alchemy. She’s also a witch, one who hates to use her magic and keeps track of any infractions she indulges in. When she “calls” a dusty old book to her for her research, Ashmole 782, Diana sets into motion events that will change more than just her life.

You see, Ashmole 782 may very well be the history of the origins – and possibly the ways to destroy – all the witches, vampires and daemons roaming the earth. Each species wants it, and will do anything to keep the others from finding it. However, Diana teams up with Matthew, a vampire with a secret. She and Matthew challenge the established order of things, and in doing so, find each other.

Deborah Harkness is herself a professor of history, so her take on the creation of Ashmole 782 and the impact a single book can have on whole populations. What happened to witches in the past, and various historical events that highlighted the vampires’ lives is brilliantly depicted and elegantly woven. You know you can trust the facts as well as her interpretation and spin on what happened. Her writing is rich and lush, and she has built a world that is completely believable and real.

But it’s her people who are at the heart of the trilogy. All the beautiful background in the world wouldn’t matter if you didn’t care about the people, and in the pages of these books. You meet some amazing, troubled, determined, and memorable characters. Even her secondary and tertiary characters are fully developed; they matter.

I enjoyed re-reading the first two, and I know without a doubt that I’ll re-read these time and time again. This is, without a doubt, one of the best trilogies I’ve ever read.

What We've Been Reading

Anne Bishop - Written In Red

Fran Recommends:

It takes me a while sometimes, but I do learn. When Amber strongly recommends I read something, she knows I'm going to like it. Ernest Cline's Ready Player One? Favorite for that year. Jasper Fforde's The Last Dragonslayer? Read it in one sitting. Holly Black's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown? Absolutely brilliant.

So when she started vibrating about Anne Bishop's Written in Red, I didn't even fight it. I waited until I had a plane trip ahead of me and snagged it. And again, she was absolutely right.

The land is nominally the United States, an alternate universe perhaps. And in this land, humans are simply clever meat to the were-creatures, vampires and Others that control the land. But it's by being clever that humans have survived and have established cities, trading goods and innovative creations for a chance to live. But make no mistake, humans are still food, and in the Courtyard, where the Others and humans interact, if a rule is broken by a human, the penalty is swift, permanent and without recourse. In the cities, human law prevails (mostly, and at the whim of the Others), but in the Courtyard and away from human cities? Humans are prey.

Meg Corbyn stumbles into the Lakeside Courtyard one winter evening, fighting her way through a blizzard looking for shelter. Werewolf and leader of the Courtyard, Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to take her in, but he's intrigued. She doesn't smell like prey; in fact, she seems to decidedly be "not-prey" even though she’s human, and he's puzzled. Besides, the Courtyard needs a human liaison, so he hires her, figuring to sniff out her secrets in time.

But Meg's no ordinary human, and the people she's running from are powerful. You see, Meg's a "cassandra sangue", a blood prophet. When her skin is cut, she can prophesy the future, and Meg's one of the best. She's managed to escape from her Controller and the compound where the blood prophets are kept "for their own good", and they want her back. And they're willing to challenge the Others for her, no matter what the cost.

This is the first in a series, and it's fantastic. Anne Bishop manages to capture how truly different the Others are, how completely alien their thought processes can be while still making them sympathetic and relatable, which is no small feat. The vampires, the shapeshifters (not just wolves but all kinds of creatures), the Elementals, all the other types of Creatures - and I suspect there are many yet to meet - are fascinating in their own rights. The relationships Bishop has created between the Others and humans is intricate, a political dance on a knife's edge, and is complex and fascinating.

I can't wait to read more in this series, and once again, Amber has suckered me into a new author whom I love!

Agatha Christie - And Then There Were None

Amber’s project for 2014: My 52 Weeks of Agatha Christie. Here’s her explanation.

First Published: Serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1939. Ten Little Niggers. Collins Crime Club, London, 1939. And Then There Were None Dood & Mead, New York, 1940. And an alternate US title Ten Little Indians for some editions.

I Read: And Then There Were None. William Morrow, New York, 2014.

Series: Not investigated by any particular detective.

Summary: Ten people are lured to an isolated island under false pretenses. Unknown to nine of them, one of their number is a murderer with a plan.

Review: This book is considered by most to be Christie’s masterpiece. And Then There Were None is the mystery which propelled her to superstar status, with only Shakespeare and the Bible outselling her body of works. With a plot imitated the world over, this novel  rules the number one spot each year on Christie’s bestseller list (followed far behind generally by Ackroyd). It took her two years to write and even she admitted the book wasn’t an easy feat to create (and remember she was generally a two book a year writer). 

Yet I am still scratching my head about it. I think my bewilderment stems from the fact this is a Christie which doesn’t feel like a Christie to me. This book contains the highest body count to date of any I’ve read so far and all I could think while reading it was the line No One Here Gets Out Alive (incidentally it's the title of Jim Morrison’s biography). Focused, brutal and unrelenting; not descriptions generally associated with The Queen of Mystery. More of a thriller than a whodunit, this book doesn’t really follow the Rules of Fair Play until the epilogue (not that all her books did, just it’s surprising with the popularity of this title that it does not). Don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful book; I devoured it in a few hours, I am just left a bit befuddled. 

There is one line/solution which is commonly associated with Christie and her canon, one which AND Then There Was None all most fufills. “The Butler did it!”, I hear this cliche regularly attributed to Christie and (just like the cake) it is a lie. Nowhere in the Christie canon did a real butler actually commit the crime being investigated in the narrative. The most entertaining aspect of this fallacy is the fact Christie’s piece de resistance, And Then There Were None is the second closest in her canon to fulfilling this cliche, yet it still falls short. Mr. Rogers - the butler (no relation to the other Mr. Rogers) - is accused of committing a murder, however his crime is rather nebulous and is not central to the action of the plot. A fine line to be sure but an important one. 

The tree which bore this poisonous fruit sprung up across the pond from Christie in the United States I am sad to say! The woman dubbed the American Agatha Christie, Mary Roberts Rinehart authored the mystery from which this cliche sprung (let's code name it “The Portal” to avoid spoilers). While that particular line, “The Butler did it!” evidently was never written in the book, it has been boiled down to this singular line which eventually morphed into a cliche and in turn has clung to the genre like a suckerfish ever since.

Two years before Rinehart wrote “The Portal” and Christie and compatriots founded The Detection Club an American mystery author published a comprehensive set of rules. In 1928 S.S. Van Dine (in real life Van Dine was an American art critic named Willard Huntington Wright who was completely scandalized at his own success as a pulp author) wrote an essay called Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Fiction. Rule number 11 states that an author should not choose a servant to be their killer. Why? Servants are entirely to obvious; due to the privileged information they are often privy to and their wide access to the household and/or the victim. Servants are an easy scapegoats and require little on the part of the audience to deduce and even less effort for the author to frame. While authors flout rules all the time (like cats, they don’t enjoy to be dictated to) I think Rinehart should have taken rule 11 to heart. While her fans liked “The Portal”, critics gave it a lukewarm reception and it spawned this awful cliche; so in the grand scheme of things I don’t think the book was a winner.

In hindsight, perhaps Rinehart wasn’t as far off the mark with “The Portal’s” solution as we think. In a true believe-it-or-not moment, in 1947 seventeen years after her book was published, Rinhart was spending some time at her vacation home in Maine. When her cook (named Reyes) came into the library drew a pistol and attempted to shoot the author. Fortunately (for the author) the gun misfired and Rinehart flew from the room towards the servants wing, there the chauffeur was able to subdue him. In a dramatic turn, while Rinehart was calling the police, the cook broke free from the chauffeur and tried his luck again. This time he attempted to stab her with some kitchen knives he’d grabbed. At this point, the gardner alerted by the noise came to the aid of the chauffeur and together they subdued the cook one last time. The Motive? Evidently the cook had been in Rinehart's service for twenty-five years and had his eye on the position of butler. When he was passed over for the promotion and butling duties given to another he attacked the author. While Rinehart made it through the ordeal unscathed, the cook committed suicide the next day in his jail cell, and the butler Rinehart hired over the cook? Hoofed out a window and went into town at the first sign of trouble.

Still “The butler did it!”, lingers on in the minds of many often wrongly attributed and propagated by people who have never cracked the spine of a Christie (or a Rinehart for that matter) mystery. Perhaps someday this idea will die a quiet death, it’s only been 84 years...It could happen!

Not to down play what happened to Rinehart....But do you know where the safest place in a Christie mystery to hide in is? The kitchen! No murder is ever committed in the kitchen anywhere in the Christie canon.

Favorite Quote: 

“Her heart certainly failed to beat...” (pg. 79)

“Thoughts that ran round in a circles like squirrels in a cage...” (pg. 159)

Random Fact: When I was little I used to love playing "Ring-Around-The-Rosie", "London Bridge" and singing "Mary-Mary-Quite-Contrary". It wasn’t until older that I stopped and really listen closely to the words that they started to sound a bit peculiar (well a PBS documentary helped). Seriously "Rosie" is associated with an outbreak of the Black Death in London in 1665 which killed around 15% of London’s residents (Btw there is a new-ish theory that rats didn’t really spread the plague. One piece of evidence? There aren’t corresponding number of rat skeletons in houses with plague victims that archeologists have excavated. Hey don’t yell at me, yell at a science!). "London Bridge" has a whole host of ideas on its origins. The most gruesome? Human sacrifice. The theory is children were buried alive in the foundation when it was laid so the bridge would never fall (it didn’t really seem to help since the bridge burned several times over the years). Way to embrace science guys. Lastly, "Mary-Mary" is thought to be about Bloody Mary (Mary I) who executed several hundred people generally by burning them. Not someone you ever wanted to get on the wrong side of. So all in all nursery rhymes while fun to sing and dance around to, really don’t need a whole bunch of help in feeling malevolent

However Christie was more than willing to lend a helping hand! And The There Were None was the first full length novel to feature this plot device (I believe) and wow did she use it! Interestingly enough the poem Christie used had two endings, one slightly more optimistic than the other (again not saying the two variants, spoilers). "Waste not, want not" as the saying goes; Christie used both the poem’s endings one in the book and the other when she adapted it for the stage. This particular title was the very first to be adapted into four different mediums (besides book form obviously) stage, radio, television and film. Generally speaking the mass media versions chose to feature the “happier” of the two endings, but not always (the Soviets when they were Soviet Union opted for the gloomy).

Christie followed up this highly successful nursery rhyme crime by penning One Two Buckle My Shoe, N or M (featured a rhyme in the plot), Five Little Pigs, Crooked House, Pocket Full of Rye, Ordeal By Innocence, Three Blind Mice (technically a play) and Hickory Dickory Dock over the next sixteen-ish years. Each rhyme did their part in helping create a singularly creepy atmosphere in the stories for which they placed (in the ones I have read so far). Christie obviously saw something in these bits of childhood fluff which she could deftly twist into something rather wicked. Brilliant.

Cheating: I will give you a Clue, unlike Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard, Mrs. Peacock, Professor Plum and Mrs. White I am not guilty of any crime! 

(btw you really should watch this cult classic)

AmberMiner©2014

New Release Paperbacks!

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Collectible Corner

Raymond Chandler - The Little Sister

Book Condition - Very Good / Dust Jacket - Very Good

New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1949. First American edition. Hardcover.

Ends of spine rolled and slight lean to spine, reddish cloth clean and bright with image of woman-handled dagger on front cover/dj shows wear to edges, a few small chips and closed tears, spine faded, price clipped) cover illustration by Artzybasheff clean and bright in mylar dj protector. 5th Marlowe novel.

Raymond Chandler - The Long Goodbye

Book Condition - Very Good / Dust Jacket - Very Good

New York: Houghton Mifflin. First American edition. Hardcover.

Light stamp from former library and small spot of glue on FFE, light traces of tape from past dj protectors on paste downs but, otherwise, it does not look like an ex-library copy. Shelf wear to edges, ends of spine rolled, previous owner’s name written on FFE, small ochre stains to half-title and title page/jacket shows creasing in places, ends of spine rolled and small chipping to bottom edge, spine has faded) cover illustration by Lorraine. Final Marlowe novel, an American classic and winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, in mylar dj protector. 

YA Mysteries!

Robin McKinley - Beauty

A strange imprisonment. Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?"

Gena Showalter - The Queen Of Zombie Hearts

I have a plan. We'll either destroy them for good, or they'll destroy us. Either way, only one of us is walking away.

Ali's ready to take the next step with boyfriend Cole Holland, the leader of the zombie slayers…until Anima Industries, the agency controlling the zombies, launches a sneak attack, killing four of her friends. It's then she realizes that humans can be more dangerous than monsters…and the worst has only begun.

As the surviving slayers prepare for war, Ali discovers she, too, can control the zombies…and she isn't the girl she thought she was. She's connected to the woman responsible for killing—and turning—Cole's mother. How can their relationship endure? As secrets come to light, and more slayers are taken or killed, Ali will fight harder than ever to bring down Anima—even sacrificing her own life for those she loves.

Mysteries Coming This Fall!

Stuart Neville - The Final Silence

Rea Carlisle—daughter of influential Stormont politician Graham Carlisle—has inherited a house from an uncle she never knew. It doesn't take her long to clear out the dead man's remaining possessions, but one of the upstairs rooms remains stubbornly locked. When Rea finally forces it open, she discovers inside a chair, a table, and a leather-bound book, its pages filled with a host of chilling mementos, locks of hair, fingernails: a catalogue of victims.

Horrified, Rea wants to go straight to the police but her father intervenes. Graham Carlisle has worked too hard to get where he is just to have his brother’s twisted legacy ruin his own. Thwarted by her father, Rea turns to the only person she can think of: disgraced police inspector Jack Lennon, a man who also happens to have briefly been her lover. But Lennon somehow finds himself the lead suspect in a murder investigation led by one of the force’s toughest cops, DCI Serena Flannagan. The suddenness of the murder and his implication in it, coupled with the story Rea brought to him, leaves Lennon more than a little suspicious that the two are related and that he has once again found himself lining up against people with power and influence. Lennon will risk everything to get to the bottom of this grisly conspiracy.

G.M. Malliet - A Demon Summer

Someone has been trying to poison the 15th Earl of Lislelivet. Since Lord Lislelivet has a gift for making enemies, no one—particularly his wife—finds this too surprising. What is surprising is that the poison was discovered in a fruitcake made and sold by the Handmaids of St. Lucy of Monkbury Abbey. The powerful Lord complains loudly to the local bishop, who asks Father Max Tudor, vicar of Nether Monkslip and former MI5 agent, to investigate. Just as Max comes to believe the poisoning was accidental, a body is discovered in the cloister well. Can Max Tudor solve the case and restore order in time to attend his own nuptials?

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More Mysteries Coming This Fall!

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We Can Order All Most Anything! For Example:

Richard Kadrey - The Getaway God

End times are here again. A half-human, half-angel with a bad rep and a worse attitude--we are talking abuout the former Lucifer here--James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya--the insatiable, destructive old gods. But their imminent invasion is just one of Stark's problems, as L.A. descends into chaos, and a new evil stalks the city.

No ordinary killer, the man known as St. Nick takes Stark deep into a conspiracy that stretches from Earth to Heaven and Hell. Further complicating matters is that he may be the only person alive who knows how to keep the world from going extinct. He's also Stark's worst enemy--the only man in existence Stark would enjoy killing twice--and one with a direct line to the voracious, ancient gods.

 

Cherie Priest - Maplecroft

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one....

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness. This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.