About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Winter Weekend at Minneapolis Mystery Bookstores

Sharon and I were in Minneapolis last weekend for a short getaway from Saskatchewan. While there I went to both of the mystery bookstores in the city – Once Upon a Crime and Uncle Edgar’s. Minneapolis remains the only city I have visited which has a pair of mystery bookstores.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon with a brutally cold wind I started at Once Upon a Crime. Pat Frovarp was at the store.

I looked through the new selections on display at the front of the store. They were tempting but I resisted.

I went alphabetically around the store checking out the thousands of options. I also spent some time in the section with biographies of mystery writers.

I returned to the front and visited with Pat about mysteries. She is so friendly and knowledgeable about books. She relies on her memory and written listings of books published as the inventory is not on computer. She barely needs the written records.

After discussion I decided to purchase a couple of books by Minnesota authors which are set in the American Midwest. Pat was able to speak of them as she had read each book.

The first book, The Taking of Libbie, SD, was by well known author, David Housewright. As I have cousins in South Dakota and have visited the state several times I decided to read my first mystery that is set in the state.

The second book, Alamo North Dakota, is by Phil Rustad. I had not heard of the author. Pat said it is a good story set in the oilfields of her home state, North Dakota. It will also be my first mystery read from that state.

I have been looking at the books of Leighton Gage featuring Brazilian sleuth, Chief Inspector Mario Silva, for years. Preferring to start at the beginning of a series I had not found the first in the series, Blood of the Wicked, in other bookstores. When I found it on Saturday it became the 3rd book I purchased. Once again, Pat had read the book and thought well of it.

I then made the short drive to Uncle Edgar’s. After roaming the aisles and going back and forth on what I wanted to purchase I spoke with Elizabeth, the manager, about books that I have been interested in but had not seen in book stores.

Last year I enjoyed the first book in the Guido Guerrieri series by Gianrico Carofiglio set in Italy. I asked about the second book, A Walk in the Dark, and it was in stock.

I thought Donald Serrell Thomas had written some brilliant Sherlock Holmes stories in The Execution of Sherlock Holmes. Uncle Edgar’s had several of his books and I bought Sherlock Holmes and the King’s Evil.

While hard to stop at two books I thought of the TBR piles and regretfully purchased no more.

I had hoped to buy some Australian mysteries. Each store had very few and none of the books I wanted. Pat and Elizabeth each told me that it is difficult for them to get Australian mysteries. Elizabeth had heard that Harper is going to start publishing in America some Australian mysteries. She is excited about the prospect of adding mysteries from Australia.

For mystery book lovers no destination is better than Minneapolis. The selections are great and it is wonderful to chat with booksellers who love to talk about crime and have read the books.


  1. Bill - It sounds as though you have a terrific visit to those stores. I'm really glad for you. To me it's such a treat to discover a great store like that. And you're right, there aren't a lot of cities that have two mystery bookstores.

  2. I'm green with envy as my city, New York, has lost mystery bookstores, including one a stone's throw from my block.
    There is still a big one, The Mysterious Bookshop in Tribeca, one I must visit.
    Sounds like you picked some good books, and look forward to reading the reviews.
    I feel the same frustration about obtaining books from Oz. Either they aren't available or they cost a ransom from Amazon or another bookseller.
    Relatives kindly purchased a few for me from Amazon UK but in general, a kind blogger and a few kind authors there have sent me books.
    I'm looking forward to having them more accessible and reasonably priced here, including Angela Savage's Jayne Keeney books, which should appear her this year.
    I am looking forward to reading a lot of Canadian authors this year, since discovering Anthony Bidulka, Gail Bowen, Vicki Delaney, William Deverell, others.
    I've read the first two Russell Quant books. How are the rest?

  3. Bill, I was delighted to read about your visit to the two mystery bookstores. We don't have any genre-specific bookstores in India. Regarding your purchase of one book each by authors from North and South Dakota: do American and Canadian bookstores usually have separate sections on authors from specific cities? It's a thoughtful concept and one that would benefit an author and a book buyer hailing from the same city.

  4. Bill, I ought to have mentioned "states" instead of "cities" which I inadvertently did.

  5. Sounds like a fun trip, Bill. On a side note, there's a store inspired by Uncle Edgar's near me in Ann Arbor. It's called Aunt Agatha's.

  6. I can't believe you left Uncle Edgar's with only two books! I usually leave with two full bags. It's one of my favorite mystery bookstores in the entire country. With so many used bookstores going out of business in the US I'm glad there are still a handful scattered throughout the Midwest that continue to thrive. I look forward to visiting Uncle Edgar's every summer since Minneapolis became an annual biking tour spot.

  7. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Both stores are well worth going to but bring money. You will not leave without books.

  8. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I am surprised there are not more mystery bookstores in New York.

    I have enjoyed all the books in the series. Each one includes an exotic world destination and information on life in Saskatchewan. I find them entertaining and as witty as any mystery books currently being written.

  9. Prashant: Thanks for the comments. No problem on "states" instead of "cities". In my experience North American bookstores may have a section devoted to the local area but do not divide between states. They often do not divide between countries. Most commonly they are arranged alphabetically by author sometimes with hardcovers separated from paperbacks. I wish there were more divisions.

  10. RebeccaK: Thanks for the comment. I am going to have to get to Ann Arbor again so I can visit Aunt Agatha's. The one time I was in the city was to attend a football game in the Big House. It is the only football game I have attended which had over 100,000 people in the stands.

  11. John: Thanks for the comment. You must read faster than I read books. I am struggling to keep up wiht the purchases I have made in the past couple of years. I need a way to read a couple more hours a day but still get some sleep. I hope you make a visit to Once Upon a Crime as well when you are biking in Minneapolis. I like the city alot.

  12. Bill, count me among the envious. I would love to visit both books stores. I have ordered online from Uncle Edgar's.

    I have included you in my list of blogs I find informative and entertaining at this post:

    Just wanted you to know.

  13. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. Thanks for the kind mention of my blog. Your comment has prompted me to add you to my blogroll. I had intended to do it sooner.

  14. Glad you enjoyed your trip. These two stores are national treasures. One is tiny, but like the Tardis somehow bigger on the inside. The other is jam-packed and adjoins what I believe is the longest-running science fiction/fantasy bookstore in the country - Uncle Hugo's. (Clever names.) Also, one is near a good bakery and the other across the street from an international market where you can enjoy the local cuisine - Somali, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Mexican, Central American, Ethiopian, and I forget what else. (You'd be surprised; cold temps, warm welcome to immigrants. Which doesn't always work out, as the real locals, Ojibwe and Dakota, learned a long time ago, I'm afraid.)

    I think the rents in New York City may be the killer of this sort of store. They're no doubt a challenge in Minneapolis, too, but not as crushingly high. There are two cultural values in these stores. One, they are the crossroads of the genre, a real meeting place for writers and readers. And two - perhaps even more important - they are where the most well-versed scholars of the genre live. These booksellers really know their stuff.

  15. Barbara: Thanks for the comment. It adds to the post significantly.

    Each store is a niche in location as well as genre. They are neither on a fashionable street or mall. Almost every mystery bookstore I have visited is equally alittle off the high traffic shopping areas.

  16. Partners and Crime mystery bookstore closed last summer. It was very sad for the owners, employees and habitues.

    The rents were going up, but another reason that was mentioned is that because of the recession, many people who bought lots of books weren't doing so any longer.

    So economic problems were the cause.