David Thompson died unexpectedly this week. He was 38.
I had never met David, but I felt that I knew him. And I felt that he knew me.
David was the publicity manager of Murder by the Book in Houston. He was also married to store owner McKenna Jordan. Five years ago, David founded Busted Flush Press, a small publishing company issuing both original material and reprints of neglected mysteries and thrillers.
But he was something more than the publicity manager or the husband of the store's owner or a small-press publisher. Quite a bit more, in fact.
David loved books and the bookstore where he'd worked more than than two decades and he loved the customers who shopped at Murder by the Book. His wife, McKenna, said, "He really prided himself on customer service, on knowing his customers and knowing which books they would love."
And I know that's true because of the time and interest that David invested in me. I've been buying from Murder by the Book for the five or six years. In that time David began to know what I liked and he would make recommendations, recommendations that were almost always spot on. And when they weren't -- although it was certainly something he didn't needed to do -- David would apologize. He took it personally when a recommendation fell flat.
There weren't many times like that, however. David has an uncanny sense for the books and authors that appealed to me. No, I take that back. It wasn't uncanny. David simply cared enough to pay attention and to listen and to ask questions; all that in a relationship forged over email.
I have experienced a profound sense of sadness and loss since I learned of David's death. I'm going to miss him.
And there's not much more I can do expect tell McKenna and David's family and friends how deeply I regret his passing and pray for them to find courage and strength and some measure of comfort at a time when life seems so unfair.