Cambridge has changed in good ways and bad over the years. One of the worst ways, unquestionably, was the closing in 2009 of Kate’s Mystery Books, the book shop operated by Kate Mattes out of her Victorian home not far from Porter Square. The place was much loved by readers and writers alike, including Robert B. Parker, who built Kate’s bookshelves, Dennis Lehane, and Stephen King, who sometimes worked in her garden. Mattes moved to Vermont to be closer to family, but she’s still very much on the minds of her friends. The other night, mystery writers from around New England gathered at the New England Mobile Book Fair in Newton Highlands to pay tribute to Mattes and present her with the 2016 Robert B. Parker Award, given to a person who best represents the mystery tradition in New England. (Previous winners include Parker’s widow Joan , Linda Barnes, and Robin Cook.) Longtime Random House sales rep Ron Koltnow served as the evening’s emcee and over 40 writers attended, including Barnes, Ray Daniels, Hallie Ephron, Joe Finder, Kate Flora, Hank Phillippi Ryan, William Landay, William Martin, Clea Simon, Sarah Smith, and Sam Cornish. Asked what she’s doing these days, Mattes replied: “Nothing, and I’m really enjoying it.”
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