The Mysterious Bookshop Robbery of 1985

The Mysterious Bookshop is a bookstore in New York City that specializes in mystery novels.

The Twitter account for the bookstore, recently highlighted this 1985 New York Times report of a robbery that occurred at the store,

David Kipen, who works in the store at 129 West 56th Street, recounts it:

A stranger came in during the late afternoon and began browsing through the two floors of fiction. An hour passed. The stranger asked questions that revealed a familiarity with the genre. A second hour passed. The stranger picked up and set down book after book.

Just before closing, the stranger made his choices. ”They were four very good books,” Mr. Kipen said, by which he meant, ”The kind of books I’d read.”

”Cash or charge?” the stranger was asked. ”He pulled out a newspaper,” Mr. Kipen said, ”and concealed within was neither cash nor charge but a very long pistol.”

The stranger made his way out with money from the cash register but not with the four good novels that he had selected. Instead, he walked out with a book that Mr. Kipen described as a ”trashy movie tie-in.”

”The man browsed in a high-toned way,” Mr. Kipen said, ”but when he got around to shoplifting, he chose sleaze.” That is the mystery. And it is unsolved.

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