On Saturday, Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Forest Park, Illinois kicks off a month-long celebration of its 20th anniversary.

Twenty years in the book biz!

What are the numbers? Sixty percent of start-up businesses don’t survive their first year, and 90 percent are gone before the end of their third?

So to make it 20 years, a business has to be really good.

Augie Aleksy has made Centuries & Sleuths vital to people in Forest Park and the nearby Chicago burbs who buy books, who find the chain bookstores a bit cold and remote because of their size.

You come here for mysteries and histories, the store’s specialties and Augie’s interests.

Fantastically loyal fan groups, reader groups, and writers groups meet here – a mystery discussion group, a history discussion group, the Chicago chapter of the G.K. Chesterton Society, the Chicago chapter of the Dickens Fellowship, the Chicago chapter of Sisters in Crime, and the Midwest chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Those two local groups – the history discussion group and the mystery discussion group – do exceptional programs for the store. The history discussion group has presented a series it calls “Meeting of the Minds.” In that series, members have portray famous people in history talking about the issues of their times – Napoleon, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Martin Luther, Mark Twain, Elizabeth I, Joan of Arc, Isabella of Castile, and F.D.R., to list off just a few.

And the mystery discussion group has conducted a trial of Richard III; an impeachment hearing for FDR; two great debates with Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay; and an imaginary debate between U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis. The group also has presented historical culinary programs and mystery plays.

Writers come here to do book talks and signings – lots of writers. During September, 42 of us crime, mystery, and thriller writers will be here on weekends, talking with the store’s readers and our fans about our books.

Forty-two!

You’ll meet some of them right here on my blog over the next four weeks.

Tomorrow: Donald Evans

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