The Seattle Mystery Bookshop opened in the summer of 1990. We sell hardcovers and paperbacks — new and used. We host author signings nearly every week and have a large stock of signed firsts as well as a selection of collectables. We have a quarterly newsletter which lists the new books coming in, features about authors and mystery books, 'favorite lists' and more. We are a member of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. This group is an advocate for independent mystery bookshops and mystery authors, both of which seem to be somewhat endangered. Visit the IMBA website for a list of member shops as well as a database of available books. We are also a BookSense bookshop. Book Sense is a national marketing campaign on behalf of the independent bookstores of America. It is both a local and national effort to shine a light on the knowledge and diversity of independent bookstores. For more information about any of our services, drop us an e-mail, give us a call, or, even better, come on by!
has been a bookseller for almost 25 years, and a mystery reader since childhood, which is a lot longer ago than that. The reading began with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew; the selling began when he and his wife B Jo bought a sleepy little general bookstore in Kalamazoo, Mich. The plan was for Bill to keep his day job and B Jo to run the store, but they discovered that Bill wanted to sell books and B Jo wanted her daytime career back. This meant a move to Philadelphia, where B Jo worked in encephalography, and Bill worked at Whodunit? mystery bookshop.
During a book signing at Whodunit? late in 1989, Aaron Elkins mentioned that Seattle needed a mystery shop. Bill had been wanting to have his own shop again, and B Jo already loved Seattle, so early in 1990 they moved, and Seattle Mystery Bookshop was born. Just before the opening day of July 1, J. A. Jance was in the store signing the initial stock of her books, when someone came in and wanted to buy one. Bill wasn't prepared to make change for a $20 bill, but Judy Jance was, so she made the first sale for the shop (and the shop has been well treated by mystery writers ever since). In 1999 Bill sold the business to long-time employee J. B. Dickey and semi-retired, staying on as a part-time member of the staff.
As a reader, Bill's tastes have ranged from British traditional to American hard-boiled. His all-time favorites, the Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout, fall near the middle of that range. He was an avid collector of Stout books until his urge for complete-ism reached the point of including gardening books by Rex Stout's sister. Thereupon he quit collecting, except, of course, for the occasional irresistible item.
is from Kansas City, whose jazz he loves deeply. He migrated to the NW to go to graduate school and got his masters degree in painting. He moved to Seattle in '84 to live with his partner-in-crime, Gretchen. JB started working with Bill part-time soon after the shop opened and Bill understood that he couldn't survive on one day off a week. In fact, the first day JB wandered into the shop was the same day Bill received his first stock of paperbacks for the empty shelves – 86 boxes.
Gradually, the shop overtook JB's life; he retired from painting about the time that their son Jake was born in '93. In '98, Bill started to talk about retiring and offered to sell the shop to JB, who decided to not be a scaredy-cat and try it.
JB reads tougher, darker types of stories that are well-written and morally complex. Like his jazz, a book's got to swing, jump or bop to keep his interest. He believes that the Lew Archer books are the ideal when it comes to private eyes; that no one has matched Chandler's writing for sheer beauty; that the finest contemporary private eye writers are Greenleaf, Lehane and Estleman; that only Ellroy, Burke and Lehane are truly dealing with the issue of societal and personal evil - and the most interesting murder case of all time is the JFK hit (face it - it has it all: botched forensics, political intrigue, red herrings, multiple suspects, questionable witnesses, legal maneuvering – everything required in a mystery or crime novel, all in one case, and no solution!).
Other than jazz, mysteries, scoring Mariner games, riding his motorcycle, and walking their dog Abbey, JB likes to nap.
Fran Fuller lived in New Mexico for the biggest part of her life so far, where she taught English, drama, communication skills and various other communications and literature-type classes in a border high school. When she moved to the Twin Cities, in addition to massive culture shock, she decided on a career change, to spend her time with books, which have been either an abiding passion or an obsession, depending on how many she's buying at a given time. She enjoyed working for Half Price Books, and enjoyed Minneapolis, except sometimes in winter. After some serious life changes, she moved to Seattle during a snowstorm in January of 2004. Now that JB has hired her, she's enjoying her "homework". She reads all kinds of mysteries from cozies to humorous to historical to science fiction. She reads Elizabeth George, Laurie R. King, William Kent Krueger, and since she started working at SMB, she's discovered the joy of finding new authors. Fran is the manager and bookkeeper for SMB.
Janine Wilson, part-time bookseller/long-time customer. Janine has been working Saturdays and the occasional holiday from her full-time job for the last year. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon she has lived in the Seattle area for almost 30 years and works for a privately held real estate holding company. An avid reader, her tastes lean towards the darker contemporary mysteries and thrillers as well as historical thrillers, and she is always on the look-out for debut novels, especially those that are character driven and fast paced. Her favorite authors include Lee Child, Robert Wilson, Joseph Kanon, Tom Bradby, Dan Simmons, Ridley Pearson, Michael Connelly, T.Jefferson Parker, Robert Ferrigno, G.M. Ford and Ken Bruen. She has a weakness for serial killer/hit man as hero books but other than that she's perfectly normal. At least that's what she claims...
Adele Avant is the only child of a marine pilot and his wife, both of whom were readers. Her dad read all non-fiction with an emphasis on history while her mom was a mystery buff. She started reading a lot because of being an only child who was often moving around the country. As an adult, she spent 30 years in IT working mainly for banks. About 5 years ago, she gave it up and has since been working assorted jobs, including bookkeeping for a wine importer, doing some cat sitting, and now here at SMB. Her favorite books are character-driven series with an empasis on strong female leads, but not exclusively. She enjoys following the characters as they move through the series, finding nothing more pleasureable than to pick up a new book by one of her favorite authors and to reconnect with an old friend. Some of her favorite authors are Carol O'Connell, Earl Emerson, Lee Child, Thomas Perry, Marcia Muller, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, J.D. Robb. Two new discoveries are Brett Battles and Ann Cleeves. Besides reading, her big passion is yoga. She's taken over the shipping department duties at SMB from Marie.
is a rare thing around here – she's a native to these parts, unlike everyone else. She's been hooked on mysteries since 5th Grade and read her first Nancy Drew. After burning through the Drews (no small thing), she continued to tear through mysteries while bouncing back to and from science fiction and fantasy.
Some of her all-time favorite authors are Jasper Fforde, J.D. Robb, and Charles De Lint. She's a HUGE fan of Soho crime novels, adoring Magdalena Nabb, Cara Black and Helene Tursten. This year, she's fallen under the spell of Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Nancy Atherton and D.D. Barant. And, being around the rest of us, realizes how much there is to try. Her stack of to-be-read books at home is staggering.
She's willing to try most anything but prefers stories with a happy ending, where the 'hero' lives and though she watches a lot of the forensic TV shows, she doesn't read forensic books. She watches 'too much' true crime on TV but doesn't read it, either. Like the rest of it, her tastes are broad but impossible to pin down.
When not reading, she bakes, quilts, collects stamps, scrapbooks, plays World of Warcraft and is a self-confessed nerd. She says french fries are a delivery vehicle for ketchup, is allergic to nuts, and fairly BUZZES with energy around the shop. She loves being around so many books and claims that she'd work here for free books and chewing gum – but has so far declined to return paychecks.
She's married to her childhood friend Bryon.
Names From Our Past
is the daughter of Western parents, spent time in Southern California and graduated high school on the Eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada. She came up here 25 or so years ago for college and has pretty much never left. A corporate refugee, Marie wandered into the Seattle Mystery Bookshop as a dutiful daughter who accompanied her mother Pat, a major mystery aficionado. She worked here part-time in the Summer of 2007, and was the first and only person we called when we needed a full-time bookseller.
Married to Ben, a native Bainbridge Islander and fellow baseball fan, Marie prefers a good story. Give her a strong narrative in a vivid setting, told through well-developed characters, that engages the mind and heart. She enjoys traditional mysteries and cozies, private eye, and accurate history from writers like Lillian Jackson Braun and Rita Mae Brown, Earlene Fowler and Craig Johnson, Mary Daheim and Carola Dunn, Raymond Chandler and Rex Stout, Barbara Hambley and Peter Tremayne.
The last mystery she solved helped Nancy Drew crack the case on Larkspur Lane.
Susan Dennis was our first computer guru. In fact, our original e-mail address was through her. She read tons of books, kept a running commentary about each on her personal website, knitted constantly, was a long-time baseball fan, and collected mugs.
Karen Duncan was a long-time customer before she began working here. She was a member of a reading group that used to meet here in the early days of the shop, a group run by Sandy. She had experience in the publishing side of the biz, was our British mystery expert and was a rabid Mariner's fan as well as a quilter. Karen left to join her aunt's small business.
Sandy Goodrick was born in Santa Monica, CA, and educated in Portland, OR, and Berkeley, CA, where she lived for many years. She began reading mysteries in Seattle in 1989, and she starting helping out with the newsletter and bookkeeping at Seattle Mystery Bookshop in 1994. Her trajectory has been Nancy Drew to Sherlock Holmes to Rex Stout to Agatha Christie and the Golden Age. She enjoys a wide range of mysteries, from Lee Child and Michael Connelly, to Hazel Holt and M. C. Beaton. In the recent year she added Jasper Fforde and C.J. Box to her list of favorites. She especially enjoys British cozy or traditionals, and she's always on the lookout for another Patricia Moyes, Caroline Graham, Jill McGown, Ann Granger, Robert Barnard, or Janet Neel.
Tammy Lenz-Domike, once upon a time, was a sales rep calling on SMB, to sell Signet and later Penguin paperbacks and also to fuel her hunger for mysteries. She quit about the time her son Tony turned 2. Bill hired her in '93 to fill in during JB's paternity leave. Both Tammy and her husband Dan (who is the general book buyer at Seattle University Bookstore) have deep roots in the NW bookworld. Her first book job was at an antique shop in 1976, but she officially began her career at the 4th & Pine Waldenbooks with Vi Bruster in 1981. Tammy was indispensable to JB.
Erin O'Donnell was the youngest member of the staff but already had extensive experience with books. Erin was in charge of the small press ordering, as well as the UK import ordering.
Ramona Reese was a long-time customer who convinced us to hire her to work Saturdays. She had an enormous smile and an infectious laugh. She was a baseball fan too. Ramona left to move to Toronto to be close to family.
Cathie van Veen first came to the bookshop as mainly a reader of cozies but gradually expanded her horizons to include other sub-genres as well. Cathie tended to the shop's website.
January 3, 2007: Web Site News
JB and the gang are now publishing a blog. They will post all news updates there.
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January 11, 2006: Interview
JB and Bill were interviewed for the Seattlest blog. They talked about the store's history, mystery readers, under appreciated writers, recommended books, and much more.
Click here to read this interview on Seattlest.com
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June 1, 2005: Store News
It's on the LEVEL! We've moved...down the hall and up in the world...to the space formerly occupied by the Indian arts shop at the right-hand end of the Broderick Building arcade. After 15 years of being semi-underground, we are at STREET LEVEL! Take a look at photos of the work in progress at our new location.
Our address will remain the same...
117 Cherry Street.
Seattle, WA 98104
Same phone: 206-587-5737
Same email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Same web site: www.seattlemystery.com
Same hours: Mon-Sat 10-5 and Sun Noon-5
We hope you'll come in soon and enjoy the new shop.
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September 16, 2002: Interview
"Following The Clues: Seattle Mystery Bookshop Solves the Success Riddle by Detecting What Customers Want"
A profile in the local business journal.
Click here to read this story on BizJournals.com
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January 21, 2002: Radio Show Clip
"Summer Reading: Book Lovers and Expert Reviewers Share Their Recommendations For The Best Reads Of The Summer."
WAMU 88.5FM American University Radio program.
Click here to visit the WAMU.org web site and listen to the 13:06 time slot. Click on the Real Player audio link on the right.
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January 24, 2001: Interview
"A Mystery Lover's Heaven: Downtown bookshop prides itself on selection" Click here to read this story on theFalconOnline.com
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"The Ultimate Bookstores: Seattle Mystery Bookstore"
Feature interview on Japanese web site.
Click here to read the story in Japanese on JungleCity.com
for mystery lovers who know what they want
and for those who haven't a clue...
117 Cherry Street in Pioneer Square
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 587-5737 or email@example.com
We're Open Every Day:
Mon - Sat 10-5 and Sun 12-5