It’s not the whodunit revelation of a mystery novel that impresses lead book buyer and mystery aficionado Pete Mock of McIntyre’s Books. Instead, he looks for a strong ending. “So
It’s not the whodunit revelation of a mystery novel that impresses lead book buyer and mystery aficionado Pete Mock of McIntyre’s Books. Instead, he looks for a strong ending. “So many books, especially mysteries, just drop you off a cliff,” Mock says, “and you’re left wondering, ‘Where did that come from?’ That’s why I read — to find those kinds of books [with good endings] to share with people.”
When Mock joined the staff at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village in 1995, only two bays were set aside for mysteries. Now, McIntyre’s boasts an entire room dedicated to the genre and offers one of the largest selections of mysteries of any bookstore in the South.
Growing up in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, Mock was introduced to mysteries through books that his father borrowed from the local library, works by writers like Thomas Harris and Ken Follett. Mock was drawn to the vicarious thrill that these novels provided, and he’s since become an avid reader, devouring about 200 titles across genres each year.
In 2018, Mock established the Beltie Mystery Prize, a local counterpart to national honors like the Edgar Awards, to recognize what he considers to be the best mystery novels of the year. The finalists — typically eight books — are announced about two months before the winner is revealed. Joey Hartstone’s The Local, a legal thriller set in small-town Texas, was selected as the 2023 winner.
“A well-written mystery can take you in and show you a slice of life, society, and history that other books just can’t,” he explains. “Mysteries as a genre are much more open and willing to speak the truth.”
For mystery fans new and old, Mock can always offer recommendations tailored to their preferences. And after years of enjoying mysteries himself, he still finds it hard to put one down. “If I’m really sucked into a book,” he says, “I’ll stay up until 5 in the morning.”
Related: Check out these book recommendations — written by North Carolina authors and selected by mystery aficionado Pete Mock — for a month of nonstop thrills.