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, April 12, 2017

Chamblin Bookmine Bookstore

 My posting has been infrequent this month as Sharon and I have been in Florida for almost two weeks. We spent a few days in Orlando and then a short visit to Daytona Beach and were in Jacksonville last weekend. While traveling I like to visit bookstores and found an amazing store in Jacksonville. The Chamblin Bookmine is tucked next to a freeway (thank goodness for GPS).

Entering the store I was directed to the right for mysteries. I thought the store was large but had no comprehension of its actual size until I started down the hall. The photo to the right below shows the hand lettered signs for each row of books.

Mysteries were on rows 52 and 53. It was not until I looked down aisle 53 that it became clear there were thousands of books in each row. The photo below shows the shelves extending long into the distance. I estimate that each aisle contained the number of books in a modest bookstore. Thus, the equivalent of 55 bookstores in one building.

Every bookstore has to decide where to place authors. For the Chamblin Bookmine most writers of legal mysteries, but not all, are located in general fiction.

While searching in the general fiction G’s I found a new writer to me of legal fiction and I picked up a copy of The Color of Law by Mark Gimenez.

The staggering number of books were overwhelming at the start and it took some time to sort out the organization of the shelves. While shelved alphabetically there are so many books they cannot be precisely logged. There are so many books that in the mystery part of the store a section will be noted as “Bo” and so on.

Just above eye level (mine at least) there were hardcovers for that part of the alphabet.

Below and above would be miscellaneous books for that area.

From the middle of the shelves down will be groups of books for individual authors. They will be marked by their own hand written tag. The photo to the righ shows examples with a tag for Georges Simeon and on the shelf below a tag for Maj Sjowahl.

It seems like almost every mystery author with a major series will get their own
section. I was pleasantly surprised in northern Florida to see a section of the books of Saskatchewan author, Gail Bowen.

Far down the aisle was a section of the books of another Canadian author, L.R. Wright, who has been deceased for 16 years.

Having tired of looking at the miscellaneous books I looked for books by a couple of authors I have not read in some time.

Claire Matturo has written a series of books featuring lawyer, Lily Belle Rose Cleary. Clever and witty I enjoyed the first three books in the series but had not found the fourth, Sweetheart Deal, until Saturday. As well I was glad to get a Florida mystery while in Florida. Ms. Cleary resides in Sarasota.

Moving over an aisle I found a group of 20 or so John Dickenson Carr paperbacks and a pair of old hard cover books.

Wanting recommendations I turned to Google on my I-phone. I looked at the Top Ten Carr books as compiled through a survey by Sergio at the Tipping My Fedora blog. I also found a list by Steve of the In Search of a Classic Mystery blog of his Top 5 Carr - Fell series of books.

As Three Coffins (American title), better known as The Hollow Man was on both lists it became my first pick.

No. 1 on Sergio’s survey list was He Who Whispers so I added that book. It was No. 3 on Steve's Fell list.

I unsuccessfully looked for the first book of legal fiction written by Paul Goldstein, Stanford law professor and a winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction for Havana Requiem. While the staff could not find a copy they said that within a day or two they could check their warehouses. Unfortunately, we were not staying long enough in Jacksonville.

Before leaving I asked the clerk assisting me how many books were at the store. She told me that between that store and their smaller store, Chamblin Uptown, and four warehouses they had about 4 million books!

We are now in St. Augustine at a lovely Bed and Breakfast, the Cedar House Inn. After a fine breakfast (highlighted by a cold peach soup containing fresh strawberries and blackberries) I am on the front porch in a comfortable rocking chair listening to the fountain and watching life flow by and several books at hand. The sun is shining and it is 23C. Sharon is in her own rocking chair listening to The Whisperer by John Grisham. I am not sure we will get to any sightseeing today.


  1. It sounds as though you're having a lovely trip, Bill, and I'm happy for you. And the bookstore looks fantastic! I wish you a safe journey and a pleasant trip back to Saskatchewan when it's over.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the kind words. You best be careful about entering the Bookmine. You might never get out.

  2. I think I would suffer from decision paralysis in a bookstore that big but if I ever get back to Florida it's going on my must visit list, thanks for sharing Bill

    1. Bernadette:Thanks for the comment. I wasi initially frozen. I stopped and looked around about and worked out what I wanted to look for and the looking went better.

  3. Fabulous store! My mom used to live in Palm Coast (45 miles south of Jacksonville) and I would stop in Chamblin Book Mine as often as I could when we were visiting her. There is also another location in downtown J-ville which has a smaller mystery section. Did you get to that location as well?

    At the main store I've found some scarce Joan Fleming books, the hard to find Jonas Wilde spy novels by Andrew Yorke, a couple of hardcover Crime Clubs, and many many vintage paperbacks. The bulk of the mystery section is contemporary paperback and it takes some assiduous searching to uncover the vintage treasures as I'm sure you discovered. If I don't have a list when I go there I'm utterly lost.

    Now that my mom is gone and the house is sold I doubt I'll ever visit the place again. So cool that you managed to shop to your heart's content on your trip to FLA!

    1. John: I should have guessed you would know the Bookmine. If I get a chance to go again it will be with a plan.

      I did get to Chamblin's Uptown. I thought it a good store but would spend my time on another visit at the main store.

      One of the random joys of travel involves finding places like the Bookmine.

  4. That sounds lime a great vacation, and what a wonderful store! I hope there's no luggage limit on your journey home. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. Only the four books listed left the store with me. It was so hard! It could have been a hundred.

  5. That type of vacation sounds like heaven to me. But the Book Mine sounds like an entire vacation could be planned around that -- and restaurants.

    I would get lost in there for hours, then eat, rest, go back, browse and bring a good suitcase for purchased books.

    But legal mysteries being shelved among general fiction would drive me nuts unless I had a lot of all authors of that genre.

    But how fun -- sitting on a porch reading new books, yeah.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. The vacation had a nice pace for us.

      It is a good thing I did not go the Bookmine on my first day in Jacksonville. I would have spent hours more at the store. There would have been dozens more I would have wanted.

      I agree legal mysteries belong in crime fiction. It is a rare rare legal mystery that does not involve a crime.

      For a book lover sitting in a rocking chair with a book on the porch on a nice day in the South is just plain wonderful.

  6. Amendment: Armed with good strong, cold iced tea. Maybe ice cream.

    1. Kathy D.: I would glad to have you join Sharon and myself on the porch.