I recently joined Sisters in Crime (SinC) and its Chesapeake Chapter for the networking, information, education and marketing opportunities they afford. As anyone who reads my blogs knows, I am a firm believer in associations.

As a result, I was one of the authors speaking at a well-attended, SinC-sponsored, mystery author “speed-dating” program at the Howard County (Maryland) Library. The program was followed by a book-signing. Each of us authors was given 5 minutes to talk about our books while Kathy Harig, owner of the Mystery Loves Company Bookstore, Oxford, MD, was on hand to sell them. Kathy has been a strong supporter of Sisters in Crime since it formed in 1987 to equalize opportunities for women mystery authors.

Kathy is a former librarian who took on the mystery bookstore business in 1991. I drove out to interview her last week (see latelastnightbooks.com), browsed the shelves, bought some books and enjoyed an interesting conversation with Kathy.

For mystery lovers like me, the visit introduced me to the mystery bookstore as the resource I’ve looked for all my life. Kathy stocks whole series from the beginning, even if it means filling in out-of-print early books with used ones. She does the buying and she knows her customers, so she is likely to buy books because she knows exactly who among her customers would be delighted to get it. She knows many mystery authors personally and she knows the kind of books they write, so she’s an excellent resource when you’ve read everything your favorite author has written. She can steer you right.

Plus the store is in a historic building dating from the 1900s that used to be a bank and a post office. The town of Oxford is quiet, quaint and on the shore. A visit is worth the drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, especially if you include the ferry across the river to St. Michaels.

Sisters in Crime (sistersincrime.org) was formed in 1987. The need for such an organization became clear in 1986 at the first conference on Women in Mystery, at Hunter College. Sara Paretsky, considered the founding mother, spoke on the growing use of graphic sadism against women in mysteries. These remarks resonated with many of those present. Then Phyllis Whitney wrote to Mystery Writers of America, pointing out that women authors weren’t being nominated for awards. At Bouchercon later that year, a meeting of women authors was convened where Sara noted that books by woman mystery writers also weren’t being reviewed at a percentage equal to their participation in the field. The Initial steering committee members were Charlotte MacLeod, Kate Mattes, Betty Francis, Dorothy Salisbury Davis, Sara Paretsky, Nancy Pickard and Susan Dunlap.
– Eileen Haavik McIntire