Let me backtrack for a minute. I recently came across a blog site devoted to the cozy mystery (http://www.cozy-mystery.com). It contains an assortment of lists of cozy mysteries arranged in a variety of ways, including the state in which they are set. On the Maine list are Donald Bain (with “Jessica Fletcher”), Jennie Bentley, J. S. Borthwick, Claire Donally, Kaitlyn Dunnett, Cynthia Gallant-Simpson, Sarah Graves, Linda Hall, B. B. Haywood, Lee Hollis, Margaret Lawrence, Karen MacInerney, Leslie Meier, Meira Penterman, Virginia Rich, and Lea Wait.
Right off the bat, I could think of other writers who should be added. But what struck me even more forcibly was the fact that I’d never heard of Claire Donally, B. B. Haywood, or Lee Hollis and didn’t know that some of the others I had heard of wrote mystery series set in Maine. Out of curiosity, I decided to try to find out a little more about these folks and their mysteries and share the results of my research here.
I didn’t take on the whole list. I limited it to match what MCW contributors Vicki Doudera, Sarah Graves, Katherine Hall Page, Barbara Ross, Lea Wait and I write: ongoing series (a new entry published in 2013 or scheduled for 2014) in the cozy/traditional mystery genre, set all or in part in Maine and published by royalty paying publishers. Because they are in a category all their own, I left out the Murder, She Wrote novels.
I have not read any of the titles I’m about to mention, although I plan to dip into each of these series in the future. All I’m going to do here is pass on what I found out about them and their authors and leave it to readers who already enjoy the books Vicki, Sarah, Katherine, Barb, Lea, and I write, to decide whether or not to sample them.Vicki, Sarah, Lea, and I live in Maine year round. Katherine and Barb are summer residents. It’s pretty easy to understand why we chose to set some or all of our books in Maine. As you’ll see, there’s a bit of a mystery as to why some of the following writers made that same decision. It’s impossible to tell if they’ve ever visited Maine, or why they chose to write a series set here.
Okay, in alphabetical order:
Jennie Bentley (a pseudonym) writes the Do-it-Yourself Mysteries. Avery Baker, a New York designer, inherits a cottage in Waterfield, Maine and moves there. The first title is Mortar and Murder. The author lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Claire Donally (a pseudonym) writes the Sunny and Shadow Mysteries featuring Sunny Coolidge, a reporter who left NYC to care for her father in Kittery Harbor, Maine. A cat, Shadow, is a major character and there are apparently scenes written in the cat’s point of view. The first title is The Big Kitty. No biographical information is available on this author at the publisher’s site, Amazon, or Goodreads.
B. B. Harwood (a pseudonym) writes the Candy Holliday mysteries, starting with Town in a Blueberry Jam, set in Cape Willington, Maine. The authors are Beth Freeman and Robert Freeman, who got the idea for the series while driving around Maine. Their website (http://www.hollidaysblueberryacres.com) does not include a bio or say where they live. They do give a credit to Merrill Blueberry Farms in Ellsworth.
Lee Hollis (a pseudonym) writes the Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mysteries set in Bar Harbor. Details were hard to track down, but it turns out that this series is written by a brother and sister who were born in Bar Harbor. Rick Copp is also a successful screenwriter. His sister, Holly Simason, still lives in Bar Harbor and is a columnist for the Mt. Desert Islander. The first title is Death of a Kitchen Diva.
Karen MacInerney writes the Gray Whale Inn series featuring Natalie Barnes, a woman from Texas starting over in Maine. The first title is Murder on the Rocks. The setting is Cranberry Island. The author lives in Texas, but she was in Bar Harbor just last month and wrote about it in her blog.
Leslie Meier has been writing her Lucy Stone series, set in Tinker’s Cove, Maine since 1991. The first title was originally Mail Order Murder. It was reissued as Mistletoe Murder when the series was revamped to have every book feature a holiday. The author lives on Cape Cod and doesn’t mention any Maine connection in online bios.
Although it doesn’t meet my criteria for this post, I have to mention that I recently reread Vane Pursuit (1989) by the late, great Charlotte MacLeod of Durham, Maine. It is partially set in Sasquamahoc, Maine and features a mystery novelist named Catriona McBogle as an important secondary character. When asked how she likes living in Maine, Catriona replies that she loves it because “you can be as insane as you please and nobody pays the least bit of attention.” I’ve got to agree with Catriona (and Charlotte) about that.
So, now it’s your turn, faithful readers of this blog. Have you read any of these writers? Care to comment? And if any of the writers I’ve mentioned in this post would like to chime in, or contribute a guest blog on “Maine,” “crime,” and/or “writing,” we’d love to hear from you.