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Massive mystery book sale to benefit Pasadena Public Library

April 12, 2011 |  4:10 pm


It took two 10-foot U-Haul trucks packed to the ceiling to carry Tom McGuinn's collection of mystery novels away. McGuinn's inventory, amassed over more than 40 years, has been given by his widow to the nonprofit Friends of the Pasadena Public Library. On Saturday the organization will be selling those books in a massive mystery book sale to benefit the library's programs.

In all, there are about 9,000 mysteries, stretching from the last few years back to the 1970s. The books are, for the most part, bestsellers -- books by Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Daniel Silva, Jonathan Kellerman and many, many more.

Of those books, more than 3,600 have been signed by their author. That's an enormous number McGuinn gathered from various sources, according to the Friends of the Pasada Public Library's Helen Overstreet. He went to book signings, attended the annual Book Expo publishing conference and bought them signed from bookstores when he traveled.

"Everything is in absolutely pristine condition," Overstreet added. There are hardcovers and paperbacks, and almost all -- even those signed books -- will be sold for 50 cents to $5.

A few of the book books are signed and numbered limited editions (could they have come from Otto Penzler's Mysterious Bookshop in New York?). Although she suspects they may be worth much more, Overstreet says they will be priced at around $20.

The mystery book sale will be held at Roosevelt Elementary School in Pasadena. There will be a $20 fee for early birds at 9 a.m.; admission is free after 9:45. The Friends of the Pasadena Public Library ask buyers to bring their own bags and boxes; they've got their hands full just getting everything alphabetized. The sale is cash only.

-- Carolyn Kellogg