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Newsletter June 2013

           A monthly newsletter from Murder by the Book  
      June 2013
One thing that set Murder by the Book apart from other bookstores was the way books were organized.  New customers, used to a strictly alphabetical system, were sometimes puzzled that our books were grouped first by type into a section, then alphabetically by author, with each author's books shelved in chronological order, making it easy to follow a series as it developed.  For most, the system became a useful tool for finding just the book they were searching for. We loved having the sections and this month we feature new titles from a few of them.
Always a popular section at MBTB, "Shot on Location” featured stories set around the world, Italy being one of the most sought after fictional destinations.
 The sights, the sounds, the wine, and the history all combine to make Italy an extraordinary place to vacation. Fortunately for those who can’t make the trip themselves, there are Italian mysteries to savor.

Andrea Camilleri’s Sicilian-set series features Inspector Salvo Montalbano. First seen in The Shape of Water, the smart and cynical Montalbano is willing to bend the rules to get the job done. In addition to his topnotch detective skills, Montalbano is a connoisseur of good food and fine wine.
In the upcoming Death in Sicily ($20), Montalbano’s first three adventures—The Shape of Water, The Terra Cotta Dog, and The Snack Thief—are combined in one volume. With Montalbano investigating everything from the death of a politician to an illegal arms cache, this collection provides a perfect introduction. Even fellow authors of Italian mystery series heap praises on Camilleri’s work, which “breathe out the sense of place, the sense of humor and the sense of despair that fills the air of Sicily,” according to Donna Leon, whose Comm. Brunetti series is based in Venice.
While working on his thesis on the history of law enforcement during Italy’s Fascist period, Italian author Carlo Lucarelli interviewed a man with forty years experience as a police officer, first as a member of the Fascist police and then as an investigator for the Italian Republic. Putting his thesis aside, Lucarelli turned to writing crime fiction and created Commissario De Luca. The Commissario De Luca Trilogy ($18) gathers all three installments in one volume. Beginning  with Carte Blanche, set in 1945, through The Damned Season in 1946 and Via delle Oche in 1948, Lucarelli introduces readers to the complicated De Luca, whose past as a member of Mussolini’s secret police casts a shadow over his current investigations on the streets of Bologna. Giving readers a peek into Italy’s past, Lucarelli presents an Italy not easily accessible to the casual tourist.

The places found in the “Illegal Aliens” section of the store could not be readily found on a map. Sometimes they only existed in a parallel universe, in the long distant past, or the not so distant future. This section, which started out with a few vampire stories, grew to include tales of wizards and witches, robots and steam punk detectives, and even a talking cat.

First introduced in Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches, art historian and witch descendant Diana Bishop returns in Shadow of Night ($16). Her life forever changed by the discovery of a hidden manuscript in an Oxford library, Diana joins forces with scientist (and vampire) Matthew Clairmont. In their latest adventure, Diana and Matthew journey back in time to Elizabethan England to learn more about the enchanted manuscript. Combining supernatural suspense with rich historical detail, Harkness mixes in a love story for good measure. 
Time travel also plays a role in Laura Beukes's The Shining Girls ($25.95). During the Depression, anti-hero Harper Curtis unlocks a house that serves as a passageway to other times. No starry -eyed time traveler, Harper is a serial killer who preys on young women, the so-called "bright and shiny girls." Seemingly impossible to trace as he slips back and forth in time whenever the need arises, Harper's luck might just run out when one of his victims survives and begins the hunt for her attacker with the help of an investigative journalist.
On the lighter side of the supernatural world, Abby Cooper, aka the "Psychic Eye," returns in Lethal Outlook ($7.99) by Victoria Laurie. First seen in Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye, Abby's intuition, along with the pointers she receives from her spiritual guides, help her solve cases. This time, she's avoiding preparing for her own wedding by investigating the disappearance of a young mother.  The woman's family is suspicious of her special skills, making Abby's job even more challenging than usual.  We recommended this series for readers who wanted their paranormal mysteries combined with a touch of humor and the fact that the author is a professional psychic is an added bonus.

Leaving Italians and imaginary places behind, let’s focus on writers here in the Northwest, all coincidentally from Washington State.

Portland’s Friends of Mystery (www.friendsofmystery.org)recently announced that House Blood ($15) by Mike Lawson won the annual Spotted Owl Award. This political thriller features Joe Demarco, a lawyer working for the Speaker of the House in Washington, DC. Joe, whom we first met in The Inside Ring, is asked to look into the case of a man convicted of killing a lobbyist. On first glance, it seems like the lobbyist was uncovering shady dealings at a pharmaceutical company and someone there had him killed. Except that's not the man in prison serving time for murder. Lawson skillfully blends insider politics with an action packed story, and Joe is the kind of guy anyone, politician or not, would want backing them.

Set in Seattle in the early 1900s, Capacity for Murder ($14.95), Bernadette Pajer's third mystery featuring Professor Bradshaw, has the electrical engineering expert investigating a suspicious death at Healing Sands Sanitarium. Bradshaw suspects the death may have been caused by of one of the clinics famous "miracle cures" known as "electrotherapeutics." For those readers who like their mysteries rooted in scientific fact, they can rest easy knowing "all three books in the Professor Bradshaw Mysteries thus far have passed rigorous peer reviews by the Washington Academy of Sciences and earned their Science Seal of Approval.”

Anthropologist Dinah Pelerin finds herself on the Greek island of Samos in Her Boyfriend's Bones, ($14.95) by Jeanne Matthews.  In the fourth book in the series, Dinah hopes for a little R&R with her boyfriend, Thor, who's on sabbatical from his job on the police force, before she begins work on an archeological dig. She soon discovers that Thor, fascinated by a forty year old murder on the island, is conducting his own investigation into the crime. When he disappears, Dinah sets out to dig up the truth. Always fans of reading series in order, we recommend starting with the first book, Bones of Contention, set in Australia. 
It says a lot that Kevin O'Brien scared himself while writing Unspeakable ($9.99), his eleventh thriller. Promising "unthinkable crimes, unrelenting fear and unspeakable truths," O'Brien's latest finds a therapist suspecting one of her clients is terrorizing her community. Loaded with scenes set in Leavenworth, Washington, on the Bainbridge Ferry, and on the Kitsap Peninsula, this one might keep you up all night reading, but we bet you'll double-check that your doors and windows are locked.
Not to be outdone, two Portland writers also have books due out in June.
S.L. Stoner's
third Sage Adair mystery Dry Rot ($14.95) takes place in Portland in 1902. Working  on behalf of the growing labor movement in the Northwest, Sage investigates the death of a construction boss and the recent collapse of bridges in Portland. The author, a labor union lawyer, brings to life a city mired not only by muddy streets but by political corruption as well. Timber Beasts, the first book in the series, won the 2010 Indie Book Award for
Best Mystery.
The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die ($16.95) by April Henry is billed as a Young Adult thriller, but we won't tell if readers a bit older enjoy it. Waking up in a strange place, with no memory of who she is or how she got there, Cady hears "..just take her out back and finish her off." and knows she better think fast if she wants to escape. This tale of amnesia, identity theft and murder  will keep you guessing right to the end. Before turning to thrillers, April Henry wrote a charming series set in Portland featuring Claire Montrose. (Circles of Confusion, Square in the Face and Heart-Shaped Box.)

Murder By the Book’s Book Group
 Our book group, led by local author Lori L. Lake usually meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Barbara Tom, one of the former owners of MBTB will continue to choose the book to be discussed each month.

Meetings are held at the Belmont Branch Library (1038 SE Cesar Chavez Blvd.)

There will be no meeting in June due to a scheduling conflict with the library.

On Tuesday July 2 we will be discussing:

 by Georgette Heyer

 Published in 1938, A Blunt Instrument finds Scotland Yard’s Inspector Hemingway and Superintendent Hannasyde investigating the death of a man found murdered in his study. Of course his relatives and servants are shocked for everyone thought the world of the dear departed. Heyer, the author of over fifty books has often been compared to Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham.

Can’t make it to this month’s meeting? Check the website to see what we’re reading next and get the scoop on what folks thought of A Blunt Instrument.

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he Friends of Mystery Book Group meets at the Belmont Library on the third Wednesday of the month at
6:30 p.m. In June they are reading Breaking Point by local author Dana Haynes.
Contact Susan at: magsafor@gmail.com
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