The M.O. may be similar, but the scene of the crime has changed.
Murder on the Beach, a staple of Pineapple Grove since 2002, moved this week to the literary confines of the Delray Beach Public Library, in the space formerly occupied by the Buzz Agency.
Owner David Wulf spent about a week hauling the inventory to the new location, where the store opened on April Fool’s Day. I visited this past Tuesday, and while the new space is smaller, its comprehensive stock of mysteries and thrillers appeared undiminished. Moreover, its welcoming atmosphere has carried over into a sunnier spot: The shop’s tailored ambience of homey and kitschy-creepy can be felt in the skulls resting atop books like ghoulish knickknacks, the police tape slanting across shelves, the “Vampire’s Blood” soap in the restroom.
In terms of the shop’s steady stream of events, it’s business as usual: Linda Fairstein appeared on Tuesday, and the store will welcome Adam Abramowitz on April 17 and Alafair Burke on April 25. Longtime employee Stacey Schwartz told me that the store can accommodate even more people for book signings than in the Pineapple Grove space, because its central shelves can now be wheeled away for added seating.
The move was prompted by the development of The Ray, a boutique hotel in Pineapple Grove expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020. Founder Joanne Sinchuk foresaw a year of construction, renovations and rising rents affecting current businesses—some of which have joined Murder on the Beach’s exodus—and got out before the jackhammers came in. (A representative from The Ray’s developer, Menin, says the construction will not impact business at the plaza.)
David Wulf has long been friendly with the staff of the Delray Beach Public Library, and with the Buzz Agency relocating to Palm Beach last year, the stars aligned, and a partnership between a nonprofit library and a for-profit bookstore was formally inked.
Both parties hope their shared space will draw more readers to each institution; Schwartz says the store has already received new foot traffic from library visitors who had never ventured the 0.8 miles to the old store. Still, last week had its share of bittersweet moments for Sinchuck and Schwartz, who said, of the old building, “I can’t say we didn’t write our names somewhere we shouldn’t.”
Murder on the Beach is now at 104 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561/279-7790 or visit murderonthebeach.com.