We had no great expectations as we journeyed in search of The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles. Past experience with specialized bookstores had taught us to look for no more than a hole in the wall with thin inventory and a staff anesthetized with boredom. But this Westwood Village shop dedicated to crime novels surprised us like a Jeffrey Deaver plot twist.
The Mystery Bookstore is spacious enough for that all-important browsing activity: wandering around stupidly. But it is also full of little secret nooks and crannies for that other equally important browsing activity: stupidly flipping pages. The inventory, wonderful to dictu, is actually more comprehensive than a ::shudder:: big-box bookstore because the proprietors wisely mix new and used books together, counting on their customers’ intimate knowledge of the order of the alphabet to sort things out. As for the staff, far from benumbed they rival Holmes himself in acuity, and in kindness they surpass Mother Teresa.
Many — too many — prettily jacketed novels called to us, especially a spanking new copy of Dog On It by Spencer Quinn — autographed, too! — but we were mindful of our pocketbook. We payed honor to frugality by purchasing only, at least for the moment, a contemporary reprint of a 1949 pulp actioner — Plunder of the Sun by David Dodge, brought to us by hard-boiled publisher Hard Case Crime — and an old, old copy of Seven Keys to Baldpate by Earl Derr Biggers with an elegant Christmas inscription from 1914! We hope Aunt May enjoyed receiving her gift from Metta as much as we enjoyed taking possession of it nearly a century later.
But the Dog calls us to return…
The Mystery Book Store
1036 Broxton Ave # C
Los Angeles, CA 90024
You can read my review of Seven Keys to Baldpate by scrolling a few posts north, or, if you prefer, by clicking on the words WHAT SORT OF NAME IS “DERR”?