Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bridge Books

Michael - Thursday

We have a new feature on Murder is Everywhere starting today. Every Thursday we will update you on any interesting developments about our writing and books, and let you know about upcoming events. We'd like to tell you how we're doing, and let you know where and when you can meet us. But if you're not interested, just skip the section at the end of the post!

This is 85 Commissioner Street in downtown Johannesburg. Not the sort of location or the sort of building in which you you'd expect to find one of the most innovative independent bookstores in Johannesburg. Downtown Johannesburg has gone through the usual cycle of large city centers - commercial hub, movement out to the suburbs, empty run-down buildings and the homeless people, and then regenerating. In its heyday, this was the monolithic headquarters of Barclays Bank.

Now add Griffin Shea who loves books and everything to do with them. He's even sold them on the street in Johannesburg! In fact, he makes the point that lots of people sell books on the street corners. The paper book market is far from dead downtown.

Motivated by some idea of selling his own novels, he put together a plan to have a literary space in that Art Deco building and pulled it off. What used to be the banking hall is now an area where traders can sell their wares, and there's a cafe too. Griffin helps them get around their difficulties of not having the sort of credentials that will satisfy book suppliers. Hence the motto: 'Jozi's streetwise bookstore.'

Cafe with Bridge Books above
Griffin's own brainchild - Bridge Bookstore - occupies the mezzanine level. He has an eclectic collection of mainly South African books - ranging from modern fiction to classics - but also carries overseas titles. And if the new books are too expensive for you, there's a second hand section as well. Or pop downstairs and see what the street traders are offering!

Most people would probably be satisfied with getting the bookstore up and running and selling books. But Griffin had bigger plans. The venue hosts workshops, launches, readings, and even a one day Bridge Book Festival. I went to last year's event, met some great authors and chatted in the bar afterwards - yes, they have that too. There are balconies and side rooms everywhere and no problem with arranging events in interesting spaces. It's a magnet for aspiring authors, as well as successful ones who feel at home. And it's impossible not to feel at home when you're surrounded by books and people who love them.

Griffin browsing

Here's hoping Bridge Books will go from strength to strength, and be a model for other developments in the new Johannesburg.

The Nelson Mandela bridge spanning the railway.


Murder Is Everywhere
Author Recognitions and Events


Won the 2016 Prix Marianne for the Lagos Lady, the French translation of Easy Motion Tourist:

Easy Motion Tourist / Lagos Lady, was number 2 on Le Monde's list of best thrillers of 2016:

Easy Motion Tourist featured in the Guardian's Best Recent Crime Novel Review Roundup:

Upcoming Event:

March 7 to 16: South African Word Festival, Stellenbosch.


Strange Gods: Paperback, Felony and Mayhem, Feb 2016
Idol of Mombasa: Paperback, Felony and Mayhem, Oct 2016
Sunshine Noir: Editor, White Sun Press, Oct 2016


Murder in Saint Germain, Aimée Leduc’s next investigation, comes out June 6, 2017.
Just signed the contract for the next two Aimée Leduc investigations in Paris with Soho Press.

Upcoming Event:

Thursday, January 26, 2017 @ 7 PM
Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Readers Salon 
(with Jeff Siger and Lisa Alber)
Berkeley, CA


2016 Barry Award Finalist for Best Novel.

Upcoming Events:

Thursday, January 26, 2017 @ 7 PM
Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Readers Salon 
(with Cara Black and Lisa Alber)
Berkeley, CA

Saturday, January 28, 2017 @ 4 PM
Corte Madera, CA

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 @ 7 PM
Pasadena, CA

Thursday, February 2, 2017 @ 7:30 PM
Orange, CA

Friday, February 3, 2017 @ 7:30 PM
San Diego, CA


Sunshine Noir: Editor, White Sun Press, Oct 2016


  1. That sounds great. The Waterstones ( GB Bookshop chain) in Glasgow is a converted cinema. Now they run their own coffee shop and have just opened a small event theatre for launches etc. As somebody once said - the times they are a changin'.

    1. Indeed! And maybe they'll add a small cinema in due course? I should ask Griffin if he's interested in a little money lending on the side...

  2. What a gift to find such a bookplace! As you know, it's great when booksellers make the bridge into the community as a whole, and this felllow seems to get it.