The store is unassuming, nestled in the lowest level of a brick building right off a busy thoroughfare in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In Once Upon a Crime’s 30 years as an independent bookstore, it has changed owners four times and since April 1st 2016, it has been in the hands of a family of three: Dennis Abraham, Meg King-Abraham, and their daughter Devin. The family seems well suited to the job, as they are all avid readers with a penchant for mystery and suspense.
The store is a mystery reader’s paradise. Packed into its small space are volumes and editions of mystery, suspense, and even a bit of horror. The selection hosts far more titles than a mystery buff could ever find at a standard chain bookstore. New titles from national bestselling authors, obscure local authors, and international authors…stacks and stacks of mystery books are there for the taking.
The wide mystery selection is not the only element that attracts readers to this bookstore. The store, being well-known within the mystery genre community, draws the interest of many authors. Throughout the month, Once Upon a Crime features author signings and readings, allowing mystery-genre lovers the ability to interact with their favorite writers.
I met with Meg and Devin on behalf of LQ to learn more about the store and discuss their plans for the future of it. Both were warm and welcoming as they took me through their store and answered my questions. Devin runs the store during the day and can offer a variety of recommendations to visitors if they are looking for guidance when beginning their journey into the vast world of mystery.
When questioned if the family had any plans for changes to the store, Meg and Devin replied that the essence of the store will remain the same, and they will continue to provide local readers with a quality selection of mysteries and thrillers. The only change the Abrahams see in the future is adding an online presence to the store and becoming more active on social media. Their vision is to use technology to keep in touch with customers and to announce news and signings to a wider audience.
Not only does the store host new mystery titles, it is also one of the premier destinations for rare, used, first edition, and signed books, all of which are housed in The Annex section of the store. During our interview, Devin led me to the back corridor of the building where The Annex is housed. Upon entering, I gasped at the array of rare books that lined the room. From floor to ceiling, vintage mystery novels and first editions stood in the shelves along the walls. Cozy chairs sit in the middle of the room, inviting customers to sit as they peruse through the many volumes. In one corner, a glass case of rare pulp mysteries sits, colorful covers of vintage mysteries sitting like precious works of art to admire.
If you are an avid fan of mystery, this is the place to go. Whether you are starting out in the genre, or are an avid collector of rare books, you will find a large and astonishing collection at Once Upon a Crime.
Do any LQ readers have a favorite bookstore that they would like to share with us? Whether it’s in the United States or elsewhere in the world, we’d love to hear about the independent bookstores that provide you with a great reading experience.