Hey, sleuth—your travels just got a lot more intriguing! On your next vacation, cross-country road trip, or day excursion make sure all you mystery lovers out there keep this list tucked somewhere handy.
If you're a book lover, it's just a fact that you love a good bookstore. For most of us, any bookshop will do the trick—give us a latte or an iced coffee and we'll peruse the shelves for hours, on the hunt for the next great read in that special mystery section. Anywhere from a sprawling Barnes & Noble to a hidden used bookstore will keep us enthralled for hours.
But there is something extra special about a charming indie bookstore—and even better if they specialize in mystery and thrillers specifically!
If this sounds pretty much like your idea of heaven on earth, we've got a treat for you today. If you love to search through the stacks for your next thrilling case, we know just where to go, gumshoe. From New York to Arizona, Canada to the UK, these indie mystery bookstores invite you to snoop through their shelves and shamelessly indulge your inner sleuth.
Murder By The Book
2342 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX
Established in 1980 by Martha Farrington and purchased in 2009 by McKenna Jordan, Murder By The Book is hailed as one of the nation’s oldest and largest mystery specialty bookstores. Readers never have to worry about running out of mysteries to savor since the store stocks over 25,000 books—a collection of new and used books, first editions, and mystery magazines as well. Booklovers look forward to the author Q&As and book signing events hosted each year, highlighting the best mystery, crime, and fantasy novels.
The Mysterious Bookshop
58 Warren St, New York, NY
Book lovers visit the downtown Manhattan shop to ogle floor-to-ceiling shelves of mystery, suspense, espionage, and crime fiction tomes arranged with utmost precision. Adventurous types scurry up ladders to reach their next great read, and curious collectors chat with experts on staff about signed first editions and under-the-radar authors.
Mystery Lovers Books
514 Allegheny River Blvd, Oakmont, PA
For the last 24 years, this specialty shop–located in a Pittsburgh suburb–has stocked the latest mystery, crime, and thriller titles. Planning a trip to Pennsylvania in May? Mark your calendar for the shop’s annual award-winning Festival of Mystery, where you can pick up new paperbacks, meet a slew of authors, and win raffle prizes.
Mystery to Me
1863 Monroe St, Madison, WI
Although Mystery to Me offers a collection of “Something Other Than Mystery”, their focus on mystery fiction is unparalleled. Need a new recommendation? Owner Joanne excels at finding the perfect mystery for each visitor.
The Poisoned Pen
4014 N Goldwater Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ
With a calendar brimming with more than 200 events a year, the infamous husband and wife-owned store is the number one place for mystery lovers to catch a glimpse of their favorite authors in the Southwest. Eleven book clubs, including British Crime and Historical Mystery, and a wide list of shelved titles cater to every interest.
3555 Rosecrans Street, San Diego, CA
The Southern California mainstay specializes in a mix of paranormal (sci-fi, fantasy), murder, and suspense. With a mix of both in-person and virtual events, this bookstore provides readers with ample opportunity to hear authors discuss their books and offer writing workshops to help burgeoning writers hone their craft.
The Cloak & Dagger
349 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ
Only a short walk from Princeton University, this bookstore, catering mainly to mystery lovers, transports visitors into an Agatha Christie novel since its setting is a 100-year-old colonial revival home renovated to portray an English-style library. Not only do they carry the latest mystery paperbacks, but they also offer fun collectibles (like antique bookends), games and puzzles, and audiobooks. This is a must-visit for fans of mystery who are searching for books that are usually difficult to find or are out of print.
Once Upon a Crime
604 West 26th Street, Minneapolis, MN
A mystery lover’s happy place, Once Upon a Crime is one of the best places to go for both older titles and the latest in crime fiction, thrillers, and mysteries (they have their own cozy mystery section too!). If you’re not certain what type of mystery you want to read next, or perhaps you’re completely new to the genre, don’t fret! The friendly staff will be more than happy to share their recommendations with you and guide you toward your next favorite read or beloved author.
Raven Book Store
809 Massachusetts, St Lawrence, KS
Founded in 1987 as a mystery-specialty store, this bookstore has won various awards, like Publishers Weekly’s 2022 Bookstore of the Year, Midwest Living’s 2022 Best of the Midwest, and the Bookseller of the Year award from the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association. It has stayed true to its roots by carrying a strong mystery section to this day, despite growing to also house poetry, current events, environmental writing, children's books, science fiction, and romance. The Raven Book Store also publishes its own novels and zines highlighting silly and highly entertaining subject matter like The Sound and the Purry, the first novel to be entirely written by one of their store cats, Dashiell. Yes, you read that right! This store also has two store cats, Dashiell and Ngaio, who like to take naps among the bookshelves.
Whodunit Mystery Bookstore
163 Lilac Street, Winnipeg, Canada
Open since 1994 and eventually bought by loyal customers Jack and Wendy Bumsted in 2007, this specialty mystery bookstore is family-owned and hosts readings and signings from mystery and crime fiction authors. Individuals from their community, as well as those abroad, enjoy their Mystery Book Club, in which participants are sent questions to aid them in the analysis of the novel so that on the last Tuesday of the month they can discuss their thoughts with other mystery fans.
No Alibis Bookstore
83 Botanic Avenue, Belfast, United Kingdom
No Alibis Bookstore has been selling books to grateful patrons on Botanic Avenue for over 25 years. They carry books that focus on history and politics, as well as children’s books, but they also house a large mystery fiction section. A proud advocate of the creative arts, this bookshop hosts many concerts, book launches, poetry readings, and lectures for the community. In 2017, they helped host Noireland International Crime Festival Belfast—a three-day commemoration aiming to celebrate the impact Ireland has had on the crime fiction genre.
Featured photo: Garrett Ziegler / Flickr (CC); Additional photos: Murder By The Book / Facebook; Mystery Lovers Bookshop / Facebook; Poisoned Pen / Facebook; Mysterious Galaxy / Facebook; the Cloak & Dagger / Website; Once Upon A Crime / Instagram; Raven Book Store / Facebook; Whodunit Mystery Bookstore / Facebook; No Alibis Bookstore / Website