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Clued In on Readers

Mystery bookstore specializes in the newest writers, along with tried-and-true favorites.

July 25, 1999|ANN SHIELDS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

You may think that all mystery writers dip into the same murky melting pot of murder, mayhem and madness.

But an enlightening conversation with Audrey Moore, owner and operator of Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks, puts that notion to rest.

Some authors specialize in "cozies," while others go the hard-boiled detective route. One indulges in tidy little poisonings, another in gory bludgeoning--each supremely satisfying to different groups of mystery readers.

With cozies, we aren't talking about keeping your teapot warm, but about easy-reading mysteries where dear Aunt Sue might be poisoned rather than dismembered. There is nothing graphic in a cozy. Authors Jill Churchill and Mary Daheim write cozies--Sue Grafton doesn't, Moore said. But while Grafton's are soft-boiled, Raymond Chandler's are hard-boiled.

Then there are police procedurals--Paul Bishop and Dan Mahoney fall into that category.

Moore, who opened her bookstore more than six years ago, holds book signings regularly and isn't surprised that new customers keep discovering her place. Mystery is a genre that continues to hold readers in its spell, while seducing new ones along the way.

"There are more mysteries on the bestseller list than people realize," Moore said. "Some people like a certain type of mystery rather than just one author, while some have to read one after another of a certain author."

And there are categories within categories--a taste for everyone.

One of Moore's new favorites is Los Angeles writer Elizabeth Cosin. Her first book was "Zen and the Art of Murder," and her next is coming out shortly, Moore said.

Cosin is more on the Grafton side, making her soft-boiled. Most women mystery authors write cozies, said Moore, who insists on reading every book before a book-signing. How else will she know which books to recommend for specific customers?

"Some people like that kind of service, and some people would rather get 10% off on their books," she said. "Everyone has a chance to decide what they like--it's a matter of taste."

Moore occasionally hosts breakfast book-signings, where coffeecake, bagels and beverages are available. Or she will combine luncheon with a signing--all free. In fact, a breakfast signing Saturday morning at 10 will feature author John Morgan Wilson, who will discuss "Justice at Risk." Wilson's first Benjamin Justice mystery, "Simple Justice," won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

Another regular event is the monthly reading group, which will discuss "Iron Lake" by Kent Kreuger on Aug. 4. Anyone is welcome to attend this group, which meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month in the store at 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd. Call 374-0084 for details.

To learn more about Mysteries to Die For, cozy up to its Web site at http://www.mysteriestodiefor.com and view the calendar of events or sign up for its newsletter.

Happy sleuthing.

HAPPENINGS

* Today: 2 p.m. Author and filmmaker Geoffrey O'Connor will discuss his book and present an hourlong video, "Amazon Journal." Local Hero, 254 E. Ojai, 646-3165.

* Today: 2:30 p.m. William Rose and R. Stephen Jeffrey will discuss and sign their books on relationships. Rose's book is "Relationship Styles and Patterns" and Jeffrey's book is "Rules of the Game: The ABC's of Relationships." Calabasas Barnes & Noble, 4735 Commons Way, (818) 222-0542.

* Today: 7 p.m. Featured poet, followed by open mike at 8 p.m. Borders, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Tuesday: 10:30-11:15 a.m. Story time followed by crafts on the theme "Going Buggy Out There." Adventures For Kids, 3457 Telegraph Road, Ventura, 650-9688.

* Tuesday: 4:30 p.m. Harry Houdini will be featured in the biography program for school-age kids. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., 446-2820.

* Tuesday: 7 p.m. Poetry workshop with Pepperdine University professor Michael Collings. Borders, 497-8159.

* Wednesday: 9:30 a.m. First Book Storytime features "Bark George" by Jules Feiffer. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., 339-9170.

* Wednesday: 7 p.m. American Girls Club Meeting. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 339-9170.

* Wednesday: 7 p.m. Harry Turtledove will discuss and sign his works, including "The Toxic Spell Dump" and "The Great War: Walk in Hell." Borders, (497-8159).

* Saturday: 10 a.m. John Morgan Wilson will sign and discuss "Justice at Risk." Mysteries to Die For, 374-0084.

* Saturday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A new weekly event, called family fest, will feature games, readings and music. Once a month there will be a fairy tale parade to promote literacy. Children are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite storybook character. Crafts for the parents. At the Book Mall, 105 S. Oak St., Ventura (641-2665).

* Saturday: 4-9 p.m. A celebration of Persian poetry and music with Persian and English performances. Dinner optional. Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door, $5 for students. Dinner $8, with reservations required. Meher Mount, 99902 Sulphur Mountain Road, Ojai, 640-0000.

Catch you next week.

Information about book signings, writers groups or publishing events can be faxed to Ann Shields at 647-5649 or e-mailed to anns40@aol.com.

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