Thursday, March 26, 2020


From Hallie Ephron comes the sad news of the passing of Kate Mattes, proprietor of Kate's Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA, and a big supporter of mysteries. I was privileged to meet her several times at Malice Domestic and Bouchercon. And, as I remember, she wanted to put in a Boston bid for Bcon, but couldn't find the right venue. That was all a long time ago. I will add to this post and link to tributes as they come in.

From Hallie Ephron on Facebook:

Sad news: Kate Mattes died yesterday. The news comes from her sister Emily McAdoo via Thomas Lyons: "Kate passed away yesterday in Vermont. It was a sudden cardiac event, and she had been in poor health and getting weaker all along." A memorial/reflection will be planned.)

Here's a bit from a blog I wrote when the bookstore closed: "Kate’s Mystery Books closed its doors after more than 20 years as New England’s premier mystery bookstore. Scores of authors and readers showed up to help Kate pack up, as in true Kate’s style she threw a packing party. It was as hard to get to an empty packing box as it was to get to the wine at one of her famous Xmas parties. I scored a cat at the yard sale.

"Every New England mystery author I know launches his or her books at Kate’s, and looking at the table of signed books (which we were specifically told NOT to pack), it was clear how Kate’s has been a stopping point for the crème de la crème of crime fiction writers. Just a few of the megastars I’ve met at Kate’s: Sue Grafton, Sarah Paretsky, Robert B. Parker, Dennis Lehane, Katherine Hall Page, Jane Langton...."


Jerry House said...

Sad news. Kate was a wonderful person and a friend to all. Her friendship was something my wife and I cherished.

Terry Zobeck said...

That's sad news. I used to get to Boston fairly regular for business and always made it a point to stop in at Kate's Mystery Books. One time I was one of only two customers in the store. Kate was in conversation with the other customer. I couldn't help but overhear their conversation.

After the customer left, I asked Kate if that was Michael Z. Lewin, who happened to be one of my favorite authors. I wasn't sure it was him because, although he is an American, he's lived in the UK for many years. She responded that yet it was and would I like to talk to him. Before I could even get "yes" out of my mouth she ran out the door yelling, "Michael, Michael, you have a fan who'd like to talk to you."

Michael came back in and we talked for 20 minutes. I told him it was too bad this wasn't a formal visit, I would have brought all my copies of his booksto get signed. He told me he would be at Malice the next spring. Fortunately I live in the Washington, DC area and I quickly signed up when I got home.

The following spring I met up with Michael for a cup of tea, a long chat, and some book signing. While we were sitting that a distinguished gentleman stopped by to say hello to Michael, who turned to me and asked me if I knew Peter Lovesey! Peter sat down and joined our chat.

One of my greatest book moments. And it was all due to Kate. Thank you, Kate.

Anonymous said...

Kate was a great fixture here in Cambridge. I still shop at a store next to her old house/shop and think of her often when I do. said...

Kate was gracious with her time and small biz advice when Aline & I were pondering opening theCloakandDagger in
Princeton some 2 decades ago.She counseled that we shouldn't market heavily to college students as "mysteries are for the mature mind ". You were right on Kate! Your advice was always appreciated.