In 1990, Stuart Coupe was working as a freelance journalist when he realised that there was no Australian magazine devoted to crime fiction. To fill this gap Coupe founded Mean Streets : A Quarterly Journal of Crime, Mystery and Detection, producing the first issue in October 1990.
Mean Streets achieved a circulation of 3,000 per issue, distributing almost half of that number overseas. While Australian writers such as Peter Corris, Marele Day, Jennifer Rowe, Jean Bedford and Garry Disher were featured, Mean Streets adopted an international focus, conducting interviews with writers such as James Lee Burke and Elmore Leonard accompanied by extracts or short stories.
Coupe was unable to attract funding from the Literature Board despite several applications, remaining afloat by not offering payment to contributors. The time and energy required to produce each issue caused irregularity, especially when Coupe separated from his partner and associate editor, Julie Ogden. The last issue of Mean Streets appeared in December 1996.