"M” is for Mystery bookstore founder Edmund M. Kaufman died Dec. 20 from complications of kidney disease at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Palo Alto.
Kaufman, a partner emeritus at the law firm Irell & Manella in Los Angeles, founded the nationally-known mystery bookstore in San Mateo in 1996.
Starting in 2000, he worked in the store full time, becoming an impresario of author-signing events which annually numbered nearly 200.
The bookstore grew in size and prominence to become an important stop for major mystery authors as well as many other literary writers on book-signing tours. Kaufman was also an enthusiastic supporter of debut authors. The store developed a loyal clientele of collectors of signed first editions nationwide and abroad through its online newsletter. In December, 2011, Ed retired and the store closed. In April, 2012, the Mystery Writers of America bestowed on him the 2012 Raven Award for outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.
He often said that his many years of six- and seven-day weeks as a lawyer prepared him for the rigors of independent bookselling.
Kaufman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1930. His mother died at childbirth and he was raised by his grandparents, who were grocers, and an aunt.
After graduating from Shaker Heights High School in Cleveland, he moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a sales representative for a textile firm.
He was then drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War and, ironically, was stationed back in Cleveland as a plainclothes Counter Intelligence Corps officer.
After the Army, he attended the University of California at Los Angeles on the G.I. bill, graduating with honors in 1956. He was awarded scholarships to attend Columbia Law School, where he was named a Kent scholar and served as an editor of the Law Review.
He was offered a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship by Justice Potter Stewart. But at age 29 — married, with a young family — he instead went west and joined Irell & Manella, then an eight-person taxation firm in Beverly Hills. He practiced with that firm for 41 years, most of the time as the senior member of its corporate group. He was for many years a nationally prominent attorney in the area of mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance, and was a regular speaker at many legal institutes. In the mid-1980s, he opened the firm’s downtown Los Angeles office, which he headed until his retirement in 2000.
Kaufman was an avid collector of art and for several years in the late 1970s owned an art gallery, The Image and the Myth, in Beverly Hills, which specialized in surrealist works of art.
In 1980, he was among the original group of Founders of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. His other passion was opera, and in the early 1980s, he became president of a small, short-lived opera company, the Los Angeles Opera Theater. He subsequently joined the board of directors of the then-newly-formed Los Angeles Opera, serving actively for many years, and was named a life trustee.
He is survived by his wife, Jeannie, whom he married in 1978; adult children Idette, Paul, Deborah, Abram, and Nick; seven grandchildren; and a brother, Lance. His first marriage, to Audrey Ball, ended in divorce.