I went on a fun adventure yesterday in lower Manhattan. I only recently ran upon information regarding The Mysterious Bookshop. For the life of me, I can’t remember how or where but all I knew was that I needed to make a trip.
Because I’m a stone broke writer, I told myself that if anything, I may purchase one paperback. Of course, this did not happen and I walked out of the store with 3 books.
- What’s So Funny? by Donald E. Westlake — A few years ago, I read The Hunter by Richard Stark (a pseudonym of Westlake’s). It was fantastic. If you are really interested in voice and stripped down prose, check it out.
- Entanglement by Zygmunt Miłoszewski — I saw the author speak at the Center for Fiction recently and the moderator seemed really taken with this young writer and his novel.
- Hitler’s Peace by Philip Kerr — I am not familiar with Kerr but I do love a good WWII thriller. The clerk said that Kerr was great but I wasn’t sure if I could invest in his monumental trilogy called Berlin Noir. If I like this little novel, I will venture back to The Mysterious Bookshop and take a look.
The store only sells mysteries and crime novels. The walls are stocked from floor to ceiling with books, both paperback and hardcover. Some are signed by the authors and vintage books (read: pulp) are displayed in the center of the room. You will find no hipsters here. This is for real fans of the crime genre and newcomers who are interested in a suspenseful tale. If you tell the clerks what you are interested in or you are brave enough to admit ignorance, the knowledgeable staff can lead you in the right direction. When perusing the shelves, I noticed names that stood out instantly (Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Conan Doyle) but of course the walls were littered with novels I knew nothing of.
Unlike the conglomerate bookstore experience one could get from a Barnes & Noble, The Mysterious Bookshop felt like the owner’s private library. I was comfortable gazing through the massive inventory and I wasn’t approached by anyone asking if I had questions. When I did have a query, I went to the clerk’s desk and he happily helped me there with the aid of a computer (sorry, I’m a curmudgeon who doesn’t like to be bumrushed the moment I enter a store). There was no coffee shop, there was no decorative birthday card section. It was just pure books. Simple and to the point. Unfortunately, the only downer was that like most independent bookstores (at least in NYC) the new books were priced at retail. I’ll let it slide this time because I’m a firm believer in supporting local booksellers but it’s a hard price to pay on a regular basis.
Also, check out their publishing imprint, Mysterious Press, that brings “classic works of crime to digital reading formats.”
58 Warren Street, New York, NY, 10007