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Murder By The Book Gets Some National Pub

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Murder by the Book is a Houston institution, pretty much the place to go for mystery authors on book tours.

The Bissonnet store got some national publicity today, as The New York Times looked at plucky independent booksellers importing a hot new novel from England before its U.S. publication date.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest is the last of a trilogy by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson; the first two books (featuring, the Times says, "the latest action-packed adventures of angry punk hacker Lisbeth Salander and the haggard journalist Mikael Blomkvist") attracted avid fans.

How avid?

The imports are attracting fans like Joan Morgenstern, a retired property manager in Houston who had already torn through the first two books in the series and was eager to read the third when she discovered that her favorite bookstore in Houston, Murder by the Book, imported several copies of the British hardcover version shortly after it was published in October.

Ms. Morgenstern, 64, paid $40 for her copy and read it over the Thanksgiving holiday. "I've never been extremely patient when it comes to stuff I can find and read," she said.

David Thomson of the store told the Times that they'd sold 150 copies of the book.

Some booksellers who are importing copies from England and then selling them are trying to keep quiet, for fear of offending the American publisher, Knopf. Others, like the famous Powell's in Portland, aren't doing it at all.

But it sounds like Knopf understands. A little.

Sonny Mehta, chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group...said he wished American booksellers would refrain from importing the British edition of the third volume. "I'd much rather they bought our edition," he said. "But I can understand the impatience."

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