If you've ever stepped through the doors of Murder by the Book during the past 21 years, you no doubt were ably and cheerily assisted by David Thompson, the assistant manager, who started at the store when he was 17 years old. His love of the genre - and his excellent customer service - kept us coming back, if only to be accurately told what we'd love to read.
The news of his sudden death on Monday was heard 'round the world: David also was the publisher for Busted Flush Press. Dozens of tributes - all by folks who love words as much as a good mystery -- have popped up in various countries, proving he left no small footprint in crime fiction, whether by readers, authors or, well, both.
We contacted one of our favorite contemporary authors in the genre, Colin Bateman - who would have remained unknown to us if not for David, despite Bateman's celebrity status as an author and screenwriter in Ireland. Bateman replied promptly to say he had already heard, and was saddened: "... a big shock, particularly as I was just chatting to him on Facebook a few days before. I'm constantly told -- by agents and publishers -- that Americans don't 'get' my sense of humour, but I think David was very much proving otherwise," he wrote.
(We ourselves wonder just how many talented but comparatively obscure authors will remain unknown without a tireless advocate like David.)
David's widow (and those are words we never wanted to say, maybe not for 50 years, anyway), McKenna Jordan, the bookstore's owner, has announced a celebration of David's life, to be held Sunday, Sept. 26, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at The Briar Club, 2603 Timmons Lane, Houston, 77027.
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There, the MBTB family will offer margaritas - David's favorite drink - along with Mexican food nibbles. While not expressly stated, no doubt there will be celebrities from the crime fiction world, because David himself was one.
The daughter of renowned crime fiction writer James Lee Burke, Alafair Burke, herself a crime fiction writer drawing upon her experiences as a district attorney in Portland, Oregon, has set up a fund for those who would like to make a donation in David's name.
The recipient charity will be determined later; meanwhile, checks may be made out to: "In Memory of David Thompson" (NOT simply David Thompson) Mail for deposit to: 7 E. 14th St. #1206 New York, NY 10003