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Murder By the Book – A Great Independent Bookstore in Houston, TX

I’m writing today in support of a fantastic independent bookstore here in Houston, Texas. Murder By the Book (“Where a good crime is had by all”) is a local bookstore that does everything right. It’s focused on the muder mystery/crime genre of fiction, and scattered around their comfortable shop are appropriate touches–a raven here, a bottle of hemlock there, and a teddy bear in a straight jacket over there. The staff are friendly, very knowledgeable, and not at all pushy. Also scattered around the store are mini-reviews and recommendations by the staff–exactly the sort of value-added touch that you like to see from people who really know their stuff.

But why, you ask, am I promoting a mystery bookstore on a science fiction site?

Well, aside from the fact that we all win when great bookstores do well, it turns out that Murder by the Book is also putting out some feelers to the sf/f community here in Houston. Their staff-picks bookcase included The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and it finally convinced me to pick up a copy. The gentleman at the cash register mentioned how impressive it was that the book had garnered rave reviews from the staff, considering that it only barely overlaps with their core genre. I mentioned that I was a sf/f fan, and he immediately told me about some of the sf/f authors they have coming in to sign. They’re trying to get a feel for what sort of sf/f fan base there might be around Houston, to see if they should branch out a little more in that direction. I say, YES! Let’s show them that we’re here, and with any luck we can get a few more authors to come down to see us–I remember when I first moved here, John DeNardo and JP Frantz were complaining that, yeah, though Houston is the fourth largest city in America, it’s almost never a stop on genre authors’ book tours.

Murder By the Book brought in Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss last year (which someone — perhaps distracted by bagels — forgot to mention to me), Robin Hobb was there just last week, and coming up soon are Gail Carriger on March 2nd and Amber Benson on March 3rd. I’ll be at Gail’s signing, although I won’t be able to make Amber’s. Joe Lansdale will be there on March 24th. Check out See here for their complete author line-up.

The shop is easy to get to, right off Hwy 59 (2342 Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX), with an (I’m told) excellent Italian restaurant across the way and coffee shop next door. One block further down is another independent local bookstore, Brazos Books, which has a great selection of local interest, poetry, art and architecture, and children’s books, amongst much else. What’s not to love! If you’re in the area, please consider coming down and checking them out, and buying a book or two. Book stores that do it right should be amply rewarded, and showing them some love from the sf/f side may reap dividends.

About Karen Burnham (82 Articles)
Karen is vocationally an engineer and avocationally a sf/f reviewer and critic. She has worked on the Orion and Dream Chaser spacecraft and written for SFSignal, Strange Horizons, and Locus Magazine.

6 Comments on Murder By the Book – A Great Independent Bookstore in Houston, TX

  1. Paul Weimer // February 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm //

    Hi Karen.

    Not surprised that this mystery bookstore is doing this.

    The premier (now only :sob:) major independent genre bookstore here in Minneapolis actually is two stores in one.

    Uncle Hugo’s is SF and Fantasy
    Uncle Edgar’s is, yep, mystery.

  2. Paul Weimer // February 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm //

    And I saw what you did there with the bagel reference. 😉

    • Never in my life have I ever been distr– Mmm…bagels… 🙂

      @Karen: If it makes you feel any better, Brandon and I were totally talking about you.

  3. Approx 30 years ago, there was a SF bookstore in the Village in Houston–same general area of the mystery book store. It lasted a few years, and was then missed by all fans. I have forgotten the name of the bookstore. I haven’t lived in Houston for about 25 years. We lost our SF/Mystery book store about 6-7 years ago, here in Santa Rosa, Ca–these are tough economic times, and physical stores face the competition of e-books. Hope the SF store does well in Houston.

  4. Moonbase Alphan // February 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm //

    that’s right! Future Visions! ahh, I miss that place. They moved out of the Village in the early 90’s and went to a strip mall off 270 just outside the 610 loop. A lot farther from where I lived and so I didn’t get to visit as often. That lasted for awhile, but then eventually shut down. Wow, maybe 15 years ago now?
    Had some great signings I was able to make it to over the years – Lewis Shiner and Jack McDevitt are ones I remember well.

  5. Murder Books is an excellent store. I’ve picked up a couple of hard-to-find Lansdale’s there, and have his signing on my calendar. It would be good for them and for the city of Houston if they slide over into SF/Fantasy.

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