Mystery Books Find a New Home in Downtown Brattleboro

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It was a cold, foggy night in downtown Brattleboro when David Lampe-Wilson pulled into town with an interest in opening a mystery book store. After doing a little sleuth work with the locals, he found the information he needed - where to open shop and what books to carry.

Mystery on Main opened its doors on Nov. 9, and literally went up overnight. Lampe-Wilson and his family recently moved to Saxtons River from Connecticut and within weeks the store was open for business.

"We made the full move and got the store opened in a three-week period," Lampe-Wilson said. "People are finding us. There's interest once they know we're here."

The family moved to Saxtons River because they were ready for a quieter, more relaxing life. Lampe-Wilson said he would sit in more than an hour of traffic each day to get to work in Connecticut. And worst of all, he would brave the same amount to get to his favorite mystery book store.

"I look around for mysteries because that's what I read," Lampe-Wilson said. "I couldn't find enough."

Mystery on Main has a variety of mystery novels to suit most reading tastes. From Cozy novels like Agatha Christie to thrillers, whodunits, amateur sleuths, private investigators and more, it's a mystery which one to read next.

Lampe-Wilson said that most popular book in his shop right now is "Vermont Village Villanies," by Vermonter John Stark Bellamy II, and tells true tales of murder and mystery in the 19th and 20th centuries. Also popular right now with mystery readers are stories taking place in medieval times.

"I'm actually selling a lot of novels that take place between the 12th and 14th centuries," Lampe-Wilson said. "There's also a lot of interest in European mysteries that are just being translated."

From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Sue Grafton, Mystery on Main carries both old and new authors of mystery novels. Lampe-Wilson said mystery novels became popular in Victorian times and have sold well since.

Most people come to Mystery on Main for the best sellers, which the store has many of. Others come in looking for rare titles. If the book can't be found in-store, Mystery on Main can custom-order most books on the market, including any books that might not be a mystery.

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"A lot of people come in looking for best sellers," Lampe-Wilson said. "The rest of them come in looking for something I've never heard of. That's why we're trying to fill the inventory with those interesting titles."

Mystery on Main has an open feeling that lends itself to browsing the shelves for the next perfect mystery. There's a checkerboard floor that leads to a cozy reading section that looks like it's pulled right out of a Sherlock Holmes novel.

"It's a place to sit and relax for a few minutes," Lampe-Wilson said. "I was going for something homey. I wanted to keep it friendly, open and relaxed."

In this area, customers are invited to sit down with a novel of their choice to read - for as long as they like. The reading section will also be used for special events the store plans to have. Mystery on Main held an event last weekend where several area authors stopped by to read and sign their books.

"I'm going to try and bring in local authors," Lampe-Wilson said. "We're trying to find new writers. And good writers."

Besides mystery novels, Mystery on Main carries some card games, puzzles, postcards movie posters and even Sherlock Holmes and Houdini action figures. Lampe-Wilson said the store's inventory will be expanding soon, and he plans to let his customers shape how the business grows.

"I want to let the store grow in the direction the customers want it to grow," Lampe-Wilson said. "Without them, I wouldn't be here at all."

Mystery on Main keeps it simple and offers shoppers an opportunity to browse through books of local, regional and international mystery authors in a comfortable environment. According to Lampe-Wilson, that's what mystery readers want.

"People like to have a book in their hand," Lampe-Wilson said. "On a rainy Saturday, I'd rather go to a bookstore than sit in front of a computer."

Mystery on Main is located at 119 Main St., in downtown Brattleboro. For more information about the shop, visit the Web site at www.mysteryonmain.com, or call (802) 258-2211.


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