It’s always sad when a bookstore closes its doors.
Bookstores aren’t just brick and mortar buildings, they are readers’ living rooms. A place to meet like minded people, a place to discuss favorite books and discover new novels, a place to meet your favorite author.
So the news that Book'em Mysteries in South Pasadena, California, will close on April 30 is a time to mourn its passing but also to praise its 24 years of being in business. That’s 24 years of introducing a couple of generations of readers to books and authors.
Book'em Mysteries’ owners Mary Riley, 82, and Barry Martin,75, have been quoted in a couple of newspaper articles as saying it is time to close.
You reach a point in your life when you feel you’ve accomplished something,” Martin, a retired TV producer, told the Pasadena Star-News.
And they certainly have accomplished a lot.
Just last month the bookstore was named No. 6 in LA Weekly’s list of “10 Best Independent Bookstores in L.A.”
Book’em Mysteries almost didn’t make it to its first year. The store opened in October, 1990, a block and a half from its present location in South Pasadena. In the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 9, 1991, just 10 months later, an arsonist destroyed the building where the first bookstore was located.
Riley and Martin lost everything and had to start over. And they did. Just 10 days short of three months later, Book’em Mysteries reopened in its current 1,500-square foot location. The arsonist has never been caught.
Count me as one of the fans of Book’em Mysteries. Any time I am in a city in which there is a mystery bookstore, I make a point of visiting. I usually don’t say anything to the staff, just wander the aisles. And I try to always buy something, even it is just a cup of coffee or a canvas bag or a hat.
When Riley and Martin opened Book’em in 1990, there were no mystery bookstores on the east side of greater Los Angeles. They had met several years earlier through their children—his two were in the high school band, her daughter participated in tall flags. They were both widowed. After 20 years as partners, they married at Book’em.
Until the couple shuts the doors for the final time, they will be heavily discounting the books they have in stock and offering for sale the furniture and fixtures. Meanwhile, they have been greeting and reminiscing with long-time customers and authors.
In an interview with the Pasadena Star-News, Martin perfectly summed up most people’s feelings on what an independent bookstore offers its customers: “A sense of community; a place where you can go and not be judged; a place where you can go and have a conversation outside of politics or whatever is going on. A place where people can come and talk about books. Our emphasis has always been books and people,” he told the newspaper.
And he’s exactly right.
Mystery Scene wishes Martin and Riley the best of luck, and thanks for the memories.
Mega-bestseller James Patterson cares deeply about the future of literacy in this country.
And he has been working for literacy.
Last month it was announced that Patterson will be giving $1 million to independent bookstores to help support them. Details here.
For the second year, Patterson and NBA all-star Dwyane Wade will team up for the webcast "One on One" promoting reading for children, emphasizing “the importance of reading for success in life,” according to the press release.
The webcast will air on Thursday, April 24, at 1 p.m. EST. The webcast is free to schools, libraries and individuals. Visit jamespattersonevents.com to sign up. Patterson and his publisher, Hachette Book Group, will be donating about 1,500 books in conjunction with the webcast.
This year, Patterson and Wade will be joined by NBA players LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Terrence Ross and Dirk Nowitzki.
A collaboration with NBA Cares, the Wade’s World Foundation, ReadKiddoRead and Hachette Book Group, the webcast will include interviews with superstars LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Stephen Curry and Terrence Ross.
Each player will discuss how reading helped them reach the very highest heights in their careers.
Dwyane Wade and James Patterson are highlighted in an in-depth conversation with six-time Emmy Award winner and Miami Heat courtside reporter Jason Jackson on how reading has changed their lives and made their megawatt careers possible. And, viewers will see interviews about reading with real middle school students from John Dibert Community School of New Orleans.
In a release, Patterson explained why he choose this project: “Dwyane and I agree on this: getting kids reading will save their lives, especially those at-risk,” James Patterson said.
“That’s why we’ll be visiting (by webcast) as many schools as will have us. Dwyane and I are shooting for 100 percent literacy in our schools.”
Photo: Miami Heat courtside reporter Jason Jackson, left, with Dwayne Wade and James Patterson. Photo by Sue Patterson
Not every detail makes it into an author profile. Sometimes there isn’t room or things happen after publication.
Take our current issue of Mystery Scene with the profile of Laura Lippman, written by me.
Laura and I had a good interview, filled with lots of details about her work, her books, the film that has been made based on Every Secret Thing.
Much of that is in the profile.
But at the time we talked, and even with the follow up just before we went to press, where and when the film of Every Secret Thing was still up in the air.
So, naturally, soon after the issue hit the stands, the announcement comes out.
Every Secret Thing is being shown as part of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, which will take place in Manhattan from April 16-27. Here’s the link and look for updates.
Screening times for Every Secret Thing are scheduled to be 6 p.m. Sunday April 20 at BMCC Tribeca; 3 p.m. Wednesday April 23 at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea; and 7 p.m. Thursday April 24 at the AMC Loews Village.
Here’s how the Tribeca festival describes the film:
Every Secret Thing, directed by Amy Berg, written by Nicole Holofcener. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. One clear summer day in a Baltimore suburb, a baby goes missing from her front porch. Two young girls serve seven years for the crime and are released into a town that hasn’t fully forgiven or forgotten. Soon, another child is missing, and two detectives are called in to investigate the mystery in a community where everyone seems to have a secret. An ensemble cast, including Elizabeth Banks, Diane Lane, Dakota Fanning, and Nate Parker, brings to life Laura Lippman’s acclaimed novel of love, loss, and murder.
That sounds about right.
The website Vulture.com listed Every Secret Thing as one of the seven best films at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The Vulture.com review says: “. . . and as you might expect with that creative team, this is less a mystery and more a diffuse character study, a look at how the past can continue to haunt those broken by it. The cast is uniformly excellent, but Diane Lane, playing the mother of one of the convicted girls, stands out: She turns this efficient, suspenseful little drama into something downright Shakespearean.”
PHOTO: Ronnie Fuller (played by Dakota Fanning) has heart to heart conversation with Detective Nancy Porter (played by Elizabeth Banks) in Every Secret Thing. Photograph/Alison Rosa; courtesy Tribeca Film Festival
Chang’s novels have taken us to the inner workings of New York’s Chinatown as well as these neighborhoods across the country.
Chang’s fourth novel Death Money brings his detective back to New York where his latest investigation involves the death of an Asian man whose body is found in the Harlem River.
The case takes Jack to the benevolent associations of Chinatown to a wealthy New Jersey borough.
Like other authors, Chang will begin a round of book signings and discussions to talk to readers about his books.
Chang isn’t the first author to showcase his work where the novel is set. Bookstores are wonderful places to connect with readers. But many authors also find they can expand their readerships by looking for other venues.
Rosemary Harris has talked about her gardening series at herb shops and gardening clubs. Ellen Crosby has discussed her wine series at wine festivals. Elaine Viets’ Dead End Jobs series has taken her to spas, pet grooming stores and boats.
Authors know that going where the readers are works.
Where is the most unusual place you’ve been for a book signing.
The late Robert B. Parker’s novels continue to have a life of their own.
Ace Atkins has kept Parker’s iconic Spencer series alive with his contributions. Atkins' third Spencer novel Robert B. Parker’s Cheap Shot comes out in May.
Now Reed Coleman, left, has been tapped to continue the Jesse Stone series.
Coleman is the author of 17 novels, including the Moe Prager series. A three-time winner of the Shamus Award and a two-time Edgar nominee, Coleman also has won the Macavity, Audie, Barry and Anthony Awards. He is an adjunct instructor of English at Hofstra University and a founding member of MWA University.
And Coleman certainly knows how to keep a secret. Coleman was asked if he wanted to continue the Jesse Stone novels in May 2013. But it has only been during the last week that he was able to make the news public.
Coleman said on his website it took him “about a nanosecond to say yes. From that moment on my life has been turned on its ear.”
Coleman will write four novels in the Jesse Stone series.
Jesse Stone seems to be a good fit for him, Coleman said.
“Jesse Stone is a character with enormous appeal for me. I’d written an essay about Jesse entitled “Go East, Young Man: Robert B. Parker, Jesse Stone, and Spenser” for the book In Pursuit of Spenser, edited by Otto Penzler. In doing the research for the essay, I found a rare and magical thing that only master writers like Mr. Parker could create: the perfectly flawed hero. Easy for writers to create heroes. Easy for writers to create characters with flaws. Not so easy to do both. But Robert B. Parker was an alchemist who turned simple concepts into enduring characters,” Coleman said on his blog.
Following Parker’s death, three Jesse Stone novels were written by Michael Brandman.
Coleman’s first Jesse Stone novel Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot will be published in September by Putnam.
In Blind Spot, Jesse Stone’s reunion with his former baseball team is cut short when a young woman is murdered and her boyfriend, a son of one of Paradise’s most prominent families, is missing and presumed kidnapped.