Murder mystery author Susan Goldstein
Murder mystery author Susan Goldstein
Murder mystery author Susan Goldstein
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Me, My book and BiLiPo

Long before I wrote my first mystery, I already had a goal for the book. Rave reviews would be wonderful. A best seller would be more than nice. But my goal was a little different than some. I have loved mysteries since I can read and I've traveled to Paris France dozens (truly dozens) of times. Almost every trip has included a visit to one of my favorite destinations in that city, a place not included in the itinerary of most tourists. And a place where I dared to dream that one day the mystery I hoped to write would have a home.

Imagine my delight when I discovered in the beautiful city of Paris a treasure trove for the mystery lover: the Bibliotheque des Litteratures Policieres (BiLiPo). This wonderful library is part of the Paris public library system and is devoted to only crime fiction. The library has over 72,000 novels and 6000 reference books and is one of the foremost research centers in the world for the mystery genre. It also serves as a meeting place for crime fiction lovers and authors.

Upon the publication of my first mystery, Hollywood Forever, I planned my trip to Paris. On other occasions I had visited the library and walked around the ground floor viewing crime and mystery books in both French and English. During one visit, a kind librarian who spoke a little English had understood my passion for the genre and gifted me some fun French crime posters. While there I did what most book lovers do and walked the aisles, touching the book bindings and now and then pulling a book from the shelf in order to re-read a passage from a beloved mystery or investigate a book that piqued my interest. These visits were delightful but short. This time I was coming to Paris, to this wonderful library, with my first mystery and a request that they include it in their vast collection. A part of me worried that they might turn me down. What if they said, Who are you? or We have enough English books, thank you anyway.

Let me start by saying that though my mother is a native French speaker, my grasp of the language is just enough to make it clear that I am ordering a croissant and not a giraffe. It took a few stabs before I explained myself well enough to be make it understood that I was an American mystery author. I probably should have started with holding up the book. To his credit, the librarian's knowledge of English was far better than mine of French. It was all perfectly clear when I showed him the book jacket with my picture.

I needn't have worried about rejection. He was thrilled and if I understood correctly, "honored" that I had chosen to visit and offer my book for their collection.

For the first time since the publication of my book, I was treated like a celebrity!

The librarian immediately offered to give me a tour of the entire facility (it is many floors). Of course, I took him up on the offer. They have a wonderful system with sliding metal bookshelves cleverly built to maximize the space for books. When you enter a room you do not see the books until they have slid the metal cabinets to reveal the fully stocked shelves. Thousands of mystery novels. He explained that each language has its own section and naturally he thought I'd be interested in seeing where the English language books are housed. He pushed a metal cabinet door and, voila, he was showing me book titles I recognized and the place where my book would be going, not too far from Sue Grafton!

We talked about which English language authors he enjoyed (reading them, of course, translated into French). I explained to him about our mystery fan and writer conferences and how I and others have had an opportunity to meet so many authors. He thought that was very exciting. We talked about the French mystery authors I enjoy. Brigette Aubert currently heads that list for me. We walked the stacks and he showed me their system of cataloguing books and placing them where they belong.

It is my understanding that one copy of every crime fiction book published in France must also be housed in BiLiPo.

Perhaps what was the most extraordinary aspect of this library, for me, was the fact that the country of France had found this genre of literature to be important enough to have a facility solely dedicated to providing access to all interested in the literature of crime and detection. And now, my book would be a part of this amazing collection, like no other in the world.

When I left, I thanked the librarian for the tour, his interest in my book and his dedication to the world of books I've loved since I could read.

Try to visit BiLiPo if you come to Paris. It is a little gem hidden away in the Latin Quarter behind a fire station at 48-50 Rue du Cardinal-Lemoine. And if you've written a mystery/crime type book, fiction or reference, bring it with you. There's a librarian thousands of miles away, across the ocean, who would love to add your book to this extraordinary collection.