Hunker Down with a Good Book

Hey all. Gerry Boyle here. And with the blizzard bearing down on Maine,  I’m ready.

Fridge full of food. Check.

Gallons of drinking water, in case power goes out. Check.

A beer or two or three. Check.

Candles. Check.

Some good crime novels. Check, check, check.

Yes, what better way to spend a snowy weekend than hunkered down with a fire in the woodstove—and a good book. For the last item I can thank that often overlooked phenomenon of book lovers everywhere. Word of mouth.

In my case, the thanks goes to my friend Punch, who happens also to be our village librarian. Punch knew I’d been checking out some vintage stuff from our mystery room: early Dick Francis, John D. MacDonald (see my earlier MCW posts). So Punch says, have you read Andrew Garve?

Read him? I’d never heard of him.

Which is evidence of a couple of things: one, fame is fleeting because Garve was hugely popular in mystery circles in the 50s and 60s; two, it’s a rush when you discover a new author and like them and see there is a whole shelf of books still to go.

Garve was English. He wrote a bunch of slim novels that are slightly noir-ish, meticulously plotted, written with an understated elegance. They’re simple stories, with characters that seem to have stepped out of a 60s movie. I keep picturing a young Michael Caine.

I started with one called  The Long Short Cut. It’s about a cocky and debonair conman who witnesses a murder and decides to leverage it into one of the biggest scams of his career. It’s was good; one of those crime tales that make you wonder if the writer had missed his true calling and should have been a crook himself.

Anyway, I recommend it. And the others. But mostly I want to take this opportunity to remind all of us that the community of readers is only that—a community—if we share. Read a good book? Let somebody know. Stayed up all night to finish a mystery? Tell your friends. And tell them to pass it on.

Some of this is self-interest, of course. When somebody is kind enough to say they’ve enjoyed my books I hope to heck they aren’t just telling me. I hope they’re telling their seatmate on a plane, their son in Poughkeepsie, their Facebook friends, the checkout person at the library, the proprietor of their favorite bookstore, bringing it to their book club, and yes, posting a review on Amazon.

But all selfish motives aside, I just wanted to share that this week I got a reminder of what fun it is to talk books, share books, and to know that you’ve spread some book pleasure around.

We’re all in this together, folks. And without a bit of crime-novel evangelism, there will be fewer books published, lots of good books that go unnoticed, and, when the next blizzard comes along, nothing to curl up with by the fire.

So here’s the deal. Email me your recommendations ( and I’ll make sure I do my part to get the word out, on this blog and elsewhere.

And now, back to the fire and The Lester Affair by Mr. Garve. I’ll let you know how it turns out.




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7 Responses to Hunker Down with a Good Book

  1. Deanna says:

    My two favorites by Garve are The Ashes of Loda and Murder in Moscow or Murder Through the Looking Glass. If I remember correctly I really enjoyed them at the time – I must have to have remembered the titles …I did look them up though to be sure of them. Dee

  2. Lea Wait says:

    I don’t know Garve. But – thanks to you – I’ll check him out. And – if I like him – pass the word on. Which is what a true fan does. Stay warm, Gerry!

  3. John Clark says:

    You have many fans in Hartland, Palmyra, St. Albans and numerous towns ‘away’. Whenever I issue a new card, one of my first questions to new card holders is “What do you like to read?” Chances are good they’ll say mysteries. That’s my cue to walk them back to our extensive mystery collection and point out Gerry Boyle, Kate Flora, Paul Doiron, Kaitlyn Dunnett, Lea Wait, Sarah Graves, James Hayman, Vicki Doudera and William Kent Krueger. I mention the blog and more often than not, we have a new reader and several of you have a new fan. There’s a young man in St. Albans, a junior in high school, who is ripping through everyone right now and his mother is amazed.
    When our summer patrons head south, they often carry their new favorites in their head and aren’t afraid to ask home librarians what they don’t have those great Maine mystery writers in the collection.

  4. Barb Ross says:

    Garve–thank you! I, too, love it when I find a “new” author and there’s a whole shelf full of books to read! It’s been awhile.

  5. Lil Gluckstern says:

    My library system has his books, so I’ll be set for a while. Hope you weather the storm warmly and safely.

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