Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mysteries Remembered

by Olivia Greyson and her mom, Ellie Greyson-Meyers, from THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES by Virginia Lowell

“What’s this?” Olivia asked as her mother plunked a small cardboard box on the work table in the Gingerbread House kitchen.

“A little something to help you while away the hours when you aren’t working,” Ellie said with her benign, yoga-induced smile.

“Right, because I have so many of those.” Olivia opened the lid and looked inside. “Old, yellowed, paperback books? Just what I’ve been dreaming of. I suppose you’ve cleaned out your attic again. What makes you think my little apartment is a dumping ground for the stuff you want to get rid of, but you can’t quite bid them adieu?”

“Do you remember Great Aunt Agatha, dear?” Ellie helped herself to a cup of freshly brewed coffee. “She died when you were little, maybe three or four, I lose track of time.”

“That’s because you over-indulge in yoga. It empties your mind.” Olivia removed a handful of books from the box and scanned the covers. “These author names look vaguely familiar: Mignon G. Eberhart, Emma Lathen… Skinny little books, aren’t they?” She opened one book to a random page. “Well, no wonder. The print is teeny tiny.”

“You are looking at a slice of paperback mystery history,” Ellie said. “Inexpensive paperbacks became readily available by the 1960s, which made these wonderful mysteries more accessible to the reading public. Many of these authors were women.” She reached into the box and pulled out one slim paperback, By the Watchman’s Clock, by Leslie Ford. “The copyright date for this book is 1932,” Ellie said, “but this copy was printed in the 1960s.”

“1932? Wow, Mom, that story is even older than you are. Okay, that was snarky. Only why did you bring these books to me? Why not sell them online or donate them?”

“Because they are, in my humble opinion, priceless,” Ellie said. “Besides, I don’t want to get rid of them. I want to keep them in the family, give them to my daughter, and you can pass them on to your own… not that I’m pushing. Anyway, here’s a list of the books in this box, which is a mere sample of the treasures Great Aunt Agatha bestowed upon us. Let me know when you’ve finished reading these, and I’ll bring more. Many of these authors were astonishingly prolific.” Ellie glanced up at the kitchen clock over the sink. “Time for yoga. Happy reading, dear.” On her way out, she handed Olivia the following list of authors, book titles, and original publication dates:

Charity Blackstock: Dewey Death (1958), The Foggy, Foggy Dew (1958)
Mignon G. Eberhart:  Another Man’s Murder (1957), Jury of One (1960)
Leslie Ford: By the Watchman’s Clock (1932), Ill Met by Moonlight (1937)
Emma Lathan: A Stitch in Time (1968)
Helen Reilly: Murder in the Mews (1931), All Concerned Notified (1939), Murder in Shinbone Alley (1940)
Mabel Seeley: The Listening House (1938), Eleven Came Back (1943)
Dorothy Stockbridge Tillett: The Man Who Killed Fortescue (1928)
Patricia Wentworth: The Chinese Shawl (1943)

Do you have any favorite mysteries from a earlier era?

The fifth book in the COOKIE CUTTER SHOP series, COOKIES AND SCREAM, will be released July 1, 2014. Meanwhile, visit Virginia Lowell at


  1. Replies
    1. I'll have a plate of cookies ready for you! Plus a stack of books I've already finished. Come anytime!

  2. How marvelous. I wish I had a Great Aunt Agatha to leave me books like that.

    1. I didn't appreciate Aunt Agatha until I began to read through that box of books. I'm trying not t finish them too quickly, but it's hard to stop reading them!

  3. This list brought back memories. My mom was such a reader. I still have a few of her old paperbacks.

    1. I used to hide in a closet when Aunt Agatha came for a visit, but I'm appreciating her more and more as I read through her box of books.