AND – going forward – some suggestions from the group for the December meeting

when we will be talking about mysteries.  Do you like your crime dark or do you prefer a gentler mystery (often called cozies which were defined as a book in which more tea than blood is spilled), a thriller, a spy story, a humorous romp, a police procedural?  and I am sure there are more categories.  Whatever you like, plan to join us on December 13 at the Maynard Library (Trustees Room) at 2:30 to wallow with us in some murder.

To get us started, Lynette offered some suggestions:

  • Peter May:   Has 3 series: Lewis Trilogy set in Scotland, Enzo Files set in France, China Series set around Beijing.   My favorites are the Lewis Trilogy and the China series. He also has standalone books with the latest being Coffin Road released in October. Note, series are best read in order
  • Ann Perry – 2 series William Monk; Charlotte and Thomas Pitt both set in London before 20 th century with lots of interesting history
  • Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino; just released with great reviews; started reading; always interesting to try setting in Japan
  • If John Grisham fan, The Whistler that was just released is entertaining


While several of our regulars weren’t able to be at the meeting, the ones there had some very interesting suggestions and a nice mix of fiction and non-fiction.


Hotel on Corner of Bitter and Sweet   by Jamie Ford

The Nightingale  by Kristin Hannah

The Cloud Atlas by Liam Callanan

The Oriental Life by Evelyn Toynton

The Gustav Sonata Rose Tremain

The German Girl  Armando Lucas Correa

The Amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay  by Michael Chabon

The One Man  Andrew Gross

The Lilac Girls  Martha Hall Kelly

Mischling  Affinity Konar


Hong Kong Holiday by Emily Hahn

To Hell and Back   Audie Murphy

The Train to Crystal City: ShowFDR’s secret prisoner exchange program and America’s only family internment camp during WW II   by Jan Jarboe Russell

Showa Japan by Hans Brinckmann

Hitler: a biography   by Ian Kershaw

Hitler, the Germans, and the Final Solution by Ian Kershaw

In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson

Berlin Embassy by William Russell

The Winter Fortress-the epic mission to

Sabotage Hitler’s atomic bomb. By Neal Bascomb

The Mathews Men: seven brothers and the war against Hitler’s Uboats By William Geroux

Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

The Lost: The search for six of six million by Daniel Mendelsohn

The Lady in Gold: the extraordinary tale of Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece by Anne Marie O’Connor

The Winter Fortress-the epic mission to Sabotage Hitler’s atomic bomb. By Neal Bascomb


We decided that since December tends to be a busy hectic month we’d choose to read and talk about mysteries – pretty much always my default setting.

There is a blog called Maine Crime Writers that I enjoy following – because I really like a lot of the authors.  One of my favorites is Kate Flora and today it was her turn on the blog.  I found what she wrote so comforting that I want to share it.  Thanks to Kate for giving me permission.


The Comforting World of Crime

by MCWriTers


Kate Flora, here, and yes, I really did mean that crime can be comforting. Let me beginwith a story.img_5493

Several years ago…fifteen, to be more precise…we suffered a terrible national tragedy on a day in September when terrorists flew airplanes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Shortly after that event, my friend Hallie Ephron had a book launch planned. She arrived at the book party a little bit late, and a little bit frustrated, having just come from doing a radio interview. In the course of that interview, the interviewer had challenged the legitimacy of holding the launch of a crime novel at such a terrible time. Didn’t Hallie feel guilty, the interviewer inquired, about promoting fiction that profits from violence and death?

Hallie’s reply was brilliant, and correct. She said that we should all wish that the real world was more like the world of a crime novel, where good guys triumph, bad guys get caught, and moral order is restored to the world.

I don’t know about you, but I am feeling a great need for order and comfort and morality right now. Which is why I am suggesting that you join me in taking refuge in reading crime novels.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-7-40-09-pmIt really doesn’t matter which corner of the big crime-writing tent you choose. Maybe you lean toward romantic suspense, with that double happy ending of crime solved or dastardly deed averted and a bit of happy ever after. Or perhaps you like the shoot ‘em up, beat ‘em up, casual violence of a Paladin like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, books which provide a reliably American hero to root for who will always step up for the underdog. Maybe you like the mind-game contests between the investigators and the diabolical bad guys in one of Jeff Deaver’s brilliantly plotted thrillers? Or feel comforted by the idea of having Robert Crais’s Joe Pike watching your back? Personally, I’d like to hang out with Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski.

Perhaps your cup of tea is more in the vein of Agatha Christie? Less blood, more social norms. Right now, it can be very comforting to spend time with people who have good manners and obey social conventions. A bit of Margery Allingham, perhaps, and the very proper Albert Campion and his manservant Lugg, or the charmingly bumbling Lord Peter Whimsey, with his impeccable servant and the insightful and witty Harriet Vane? Even when we learn that Harriet has committed the shocking act of cohabiting before marriage, she is still a model of good manners and decorum.

Maybe the wearying cycle of bad news just makes you want to get out of town. Go someplace different where you can steep yourself in the landscape and forget about the state of the country. For that, you could go west with Tony Hillerman, or into the wilds of Wyoming with Craig Johnson’s Sheriff Longmire, or up to the wilds of Minnesota with William Kent Krueger. Or you could spend more time in Maine with Barbara Ross’s Clam Bake series or Lea Wait’s Shadow’s series.

If you really need to get out of town, there are mysteries set all over the world, and you could just set up a twelve-month calendar and visit a different venue every month.

Personally, right now, I would love someone to have my back…one of those kick-ass sidekicks who do bad stuff and break laws and compel cooperation and answers from the reluctant? If you’d like to explore sidekicks, we did a blog post here a while back on the subject. Here’s the link: Stephanie Plum, perhaps? She might loan you Ranger. Or you can make up your own sidekick, which might be a fun way to spend another afternoon avoiding the news.

Feeling dystopic? How about Ben Winter’s The Last Policeman?

Or if you want to be transported by descriptive prose, go back to an old Mary Stewart romantic suspense, or make your way through John D. MacDonald. Both will have some dated social conventions, and some rather old-fashioned versions of the male/female relationship. But right now, that doesn’t seem half bad.

imageAnd guess what?

The good guys win.

So, dear reader, if you are going to escape into crime fiction, what will you be reading? (I am so hoping it is my new Joe Burgess)

Between now and December 9th, folks who leave comments will be eligible to win a bag of goodies perfect for your mystery reading escape–tea and biscuits! (Actually including Effie’s Oatcakes, which are perfectly heavenly. And perhaps some shortbreads?)

WWII is such a complicated subject

The next Bagels and Books meeting will be on Tuesday Nov 15 at 2:30 in the Trustees Room of the Maynard Library.  It’s open to everyone and this month the group will be discussing WWII stories.  As always, any kind of book that touches on the war in any way is open to discussion.


Jim Shepard was a guest at the Concord Festival of Authors breakfast to introduce his novel The Book of Aron, set in Poland as the country is being invaded and as the holocaust is taking shape.  The story is told from the viewpoint of an 8 year old boy whose lack of concern for the law becomes an asset when his Jewish family is imprisoned in the ghetto.  One of the other main characters is the real life doctor, children’s rights advocate, and radio host who ran a Jewish orphanage in the ghetto and who – it is believed – died at Treblinka with the children he was caring for.

What happened was horrible and the author does not turn away from that horror but it is also the story of how one individual can be the personification of integrity, bravery and morality.  The Jewish tradition says that there are 36 righteous people in each generation who save the world – Janusz Korczak must have been one of them.

This book was the winner of the Sophie Brody Medal for excellence in Jewish literature and was chosen as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed.  It is not an easy read but it is an important one.

In case you are not stressed enough by your unread pile…

President Obama has given his list of required reading – the books that he used to formulate his view of the world.  Get ready for some intensive reading.  (I have read two so maybe I can cut the hours down to 75)

more WWII suggestions from Lynette

The One Man by Andrew Gross

Karolina’s Twins by Roland Balson. (He has written several on the war/holocaust)

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain ( many topics besides the war; very well-done)

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Cortes – reading now

Coming later is Moonglow by Michael Chabon

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

Nonfiction. The Mathews Men and the war against Hitler’s U-boats by William Geroux

and if that isn’t enough here’s a link with more:

One of my favorites from this link is The Book Thief which was our first Maynard Reads Together selection.



I discovered after our meeting that I can’t be at the Nov 15th one because I am having an eye fixed and raised the possibility that we might have to change the date.


Lynette has graciously agreed to lead the discussion and I am so grateful.  She has agreed to send me your recommendations so I’ll just miss your company  – not your book lists – but I am really grateful that we don’t have to reschedule.

Thank you Lynette

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