Mystery Ink: The Little Bookstore That Could

Mar 7, 2015 | 2015 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Evelyn Moore

Many of us who love books dream about someday having a bookstore of our own. Debbie Mitsch, owner and sole proprietor of the Mystery Ink Bookstore in Huntington Beach, made her dream come true.

After seeing the movie, Crossing Delancey, a romantic comedy starring Amy Irving, whose character works for a New York bookstore, she was inspired to look into what it would take to open a store. When she read an article about a mystery bookstore in a magazine, the pieces fell together and the idea that was to become Mystery Ink was born. In preparation, she visited as many independent stores as possible and talked to the owners/managers about the business. One owner talked to her for about three hours, and gave her the best advice when he suggested she join the American Booksellers Association, which she promptly did.


Debbie Mitsch behind Mystery Ink counter

She opened her first store in Laguna Beach in November of 1991. The location was in the mall off Forest Avenue, and it thrived there for two and a half years until a major fire in the city caused retailers in that area to lose business. Many closed, including her store. Since then she has been in several locations before settling at her current site on Warner Avenue in Huntington Beach. She’s been there for three and half years.

Mystery Ink specializes in author events, and in her 20 years as a bookseller she has hosted signings for many best-selling authors, as well as local writers. A partial list includes: T. Jefferson Parker, Michael Connelly, Jeffrey Deaver, Thomas Perry, Steve Allen & Jayne Meadows, Don Winslow, Rhys Bowen, Cara Black, Lisa Brackmann, Carolyn Hart, Patricia McFall, Sheila Lowe, Jeri Westerson, Sue Ann Jaffarian, and Naomi Hirahara.


Sue Ann Jaffarian at a recent signing

Debbie also provides the books for many yearly events, such as the Annual Fundraising Luncheons for different libraries, including San Clemente and Placentia, as well as the Women’s Literary Guild of Orange County, and UCR-Palm Desert’s bi-monthly conferences. She’s also a regular participant of the Los Angeles Book Festival.

Along with her pursuits as a bookseller, Debbie is also active in the local mystery community. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, and started the Orange County Chapter of Sisters in Crime, along with Cheryl Pruett, in 1993.books

The store is tiny but perfect, and features a diverse inventory as well as current best sellers. Signed collectibles and signed first editions are also available. Mystery Ink Bookstore is located at 8907 Warner Avenue, Space #135, Huntington Beach, CA 92647, phone number 714-960-4000. For a listing of her upcoming events, check out her website at There, you can find a complete catalog of books, a map of the store location, and the link to her eBay page.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

Evelyn Moore is a graduate of UCLA Film School with a MFA in Screenwriting. For a number of years she wrote and produced programming for government access television and educational television. She also taught scriptwriting part-time at Pasadena City College and California State University, Long Beach. A life-long mystery fan she is working at honing her skills in that genre. Evelyn is currently a member of Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles and Sisters in Crime, National.


  1. Thank you Evelyn for this article. I am so happy that Debbie’s book store is thriving unlike so many other small book stores around the country. I’m an avid mystery reader and prefer to read in paper/ print rather than listen to an audio book or use an E-reader. Oh the joy of hosting author events and meeting them in person. I too have met author Carolyn Hart when I lived in Orange County. She is a terrific writer and such a nice person! I wish Debbie continued success at Mystery Ink and will certainly visit her store next time I’m in the O.C.
    Sandy in Riverside County

  2. Mystery Ink is a great little bookstore. I’ve been to quite a few author signings there. Thanks for spreading the word.


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