Kate Rowan, the protagonist of An Excuse For Murder, has a weakness for crime fiction and, as the owner of Fortune’s Cove Books, the means to indulge it.
The first thing you see when walking up to Fortune’s Cove Books is the window display of summer reads and all those eye-catching covers. Sensational illustrations. Extravagant characters in exotic settings. The books are arranged around a vintage carafe and glass set. The bay window showcases the hard-covered books and allows a glimpse of shelves within.
But why linger outside? Come on in.
The oak floor is lustrous and golden. The shelves seem labyrinthine, forming angles for readers to get lost in. The rows of books are neat, but not perfect, tempting customers to touch them, take one down. Armchairs are tucked here and there, inviting the visitor to sit, open that book, read a page or two or more.
Knickknacks line the shelves. An inkwell and quill. A small ceramic vase, flowers painted on it. An old mantel clock, hands stopped at quarter to twelve. By the cash is a dish of gold-wrapped chocolate coins.
Of course, the bookstore is full of dead bodies, too. They just aren’t real. Kate has a well-stocked and carefully chosen collection of crime fiction. Behind every cover is a mystery waiting to be solved.
Kate’s key fob is, naturally, in the shape of a tiny book.
5 of My Favourite Bookstores
Sleuth of Baker Street Mystery Bookstore in Toronto, ON, Canada
I first visited Sleuth of Baker Street, Toronto’s mystery-specialty bookstore, in 2012, when I was in desperate need of a mystery along the lines of Dorothy L. Sayers. The wrought-iron railing outside the store was shaped to form the profile of Sherlock Holmes, light cascaded off the paneled bow window, and inside were two leather-backed armchairs. If you’re looking for a new mystery to read, the owners give great book recommendations, based on your reading needs and preferences.
Furby House Books in Port Hope, ON, Canada
A beautiful independent bookstore at the heart of historic Port Hope. It’s a wonderful place to browse. And afterwards, you can pop by a local café to complete the outing with a latté.
Happenstance Books & Yarns in Lakefield, ON, Canada
Part bookstore, part knitting store, Happenstance Books & Yarns is quaint and exactly the type of bookstore you hope to find in Kawartha Lake’s cottage country. In the depths of a snowy Canadian winter, you can pop by the shop for a new book and a knitting project to tide over the hours spent indoors, by the fire. The shop also works closely with the Lakefield Literary Festival and often has signed copies available for purchase.
Foyles Bookshop in London, England
Foyles. Need I say more? I was lucky enough to visit on a trip to England and would happily have spent the entire afternoon there. The store has quite a history. According to their website they “first earned [their] bookselling chops in 1903 when the brothers William and Gilbert Foyle, after having failed their civil service exams, started selling off their unwanted textbooks. Enter 115 years of family-owned independent bookselling, turning that first kitchen table venture into a beloved, world-famous bookshop brand and the stuff of legend.“ Tempting, isn’t it?
Death on Demand, a fictional bookstore by Carolyn Hart
And, to conclude, a fictional bookshop you can visit right now. Death on Demand is an independent mystery bookstore, run by Annie Laurance Darling, in Carolyn Hart’s Death on Demand series. Located on Broward’s Rock Island, the bookstore boasts a stuffed raven named Edgar and an inviting coffee area. The store also runs a monthly contest in which paintings are displayed depicting scenes from crime novels. Customers (and readers of the series) are encouraged to guess which books the scenes are from, and the answer is revealed at the end. Well worth a visit, if you haven’t yet.
For more fictional bookshops, check out my GoodReads list of mysteries set in bookstores. And feel free to add to it!
What’s your favorite bookstore?
About Vanessa Westermann
Vanessa is a Canadian crime writer. She is the author of Cover Art and other books. At the heart of all of her stories are strong female protagonists.