The enduring popularity of Sherlock Holmes, both on screen and in print, is proof that we still appreciate a good mystery. Niche bookstore Sleuth of Baker Street, a North Toronto literary institution, stands as a local testament to that. Recently, the Sleuth’s proprietors, Marian Misters and J.D. Singh, moved their store from its decades-old location. Their new digs remain a haven for mystery genre fans, authors and the occasional bibliophile (Sherlock Holmes’ Victorian Cookbook, anyone?). Misters explains the Sleuth’s lasting appeal.
1. “My partner and I have had the store for 30 years, so we’ve built a really loyal client base, and most of our customers trust us. If I say, ‘You’ll like this book,’ most of them will believe me and buy it. When we said we were thinking of closing down, we had an awful lot of people who were very upset and distraught. They were thrilled that we would even consider a smaller location.”
2. “We’ve had six cats over the years, and currently a dog—Sir Percival, named after King Arthur’s knight. We’ve always loved cats, and bookstores and cats go really well together. When we would type up our newsletter, [the cats would] get on the keyboard and type as they walked. We left all of those typing mistakes in when we printed it, and we’d tell people that it was Paddington who wrote this or it was Princess who wrote that.”
3. “We get anywhere between 100 and 200 new titles per month. There’s definitely a demand. I think people love the idea of solving a crime without having to get hurt or hurting anybody.”
4. “There’s a lot of wine that gets drunk around here. These are all gifts from customers. They know we like wine and they’re very generous. I like to sit and have a glass of wine and read a book, and I think a lot of our customers are of a like mind.”
5. “Most of those [decorative items] have come from customers over the years. A customer of 20 years needle-pointed that Sherlock Holmes. They’d just done it and thought we’d like it.”
6. “We have a brick from 221B Baker Street [Sherlock Holmes’ address in London] from when they demolished part of the building.”
Sleuth of Baker Street, 907 Millwood Rd., sleuthofbakerstreet.ca.