Crime Scene Do Not Cross: Or how Otto Penzer revitalized the Mystery Genre with the Mysterious Bookstore and The Mysterious Press
Penzler is the owner of the Mysterious Bookshop (founded 1979) as well as The Mysterious Press, a publishing imprint he founded in 1975, and mysteriouspress.com, his ebook publisher.
He has published most of the greats of mystery and crime fiction: Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, James Ellroy, Ross Thomas, Patricia Highsmith, Ross Macdonald, Ed McBain. Any of the major authors he hasn’t published are probably at least good friends of his. (In conversation, Robert B. Parker is “Bob” and Lawrence Block is “Larry.”)
He has a trim white beard and a shock of white hair, and speaks with the confidence and enthusiasm of someone who works entirely too many hours for his age at a job he wouldn’t trade. He is not the least bit shy about criticizing authors he thinks are bad; he referred to both Thomas Pynchon and Isabel Allende as “dreadful!” in our conversation. “Otto is gentlemanly, courtly, and unfailingly gracious—but, when necessary, he can be strongly assertive,” writes author Joyce Carol Oates in an email. “I do have a story or two about Otto but don’t think it would be discreet to tell them….”