To accompany my piece on James Ellroy, Michael Connelly and The Wrong Side of Goodbye at the L.A. Review of Books, here are eleven mystery writers strolling Los Angeles in the shadow of Raymond Chandler. Can you identify the authors? Note: Characters’ names have been redacted to avoid giving unintended clues. And of course, you’re on your honor not to use Google.
See if you can spot: Michael Connelly, Miles Corwin, Robert Crais, James Ellroy, George Fox, Denise Hamilton, Naomi Hirahara, Jonathan Kellerman, Ross Macdonald, Walter Mosley and Joseph Wambaugh
1. It was a beautiful L.A. summer evening, ideal for the Bowl. Cruising west on Sunset with the top down my mind took flight with bits and fragments of the passing scene: The Strip gearing up for another go at nightlife, the giant lighted signs proclaiming rock groups and other coming attractions, the callow idolators of electric music cliquing up in front of the Whisky A Go Go.
Answer: Brown’s Requiem (1981) James Ellroy.
2. [He] lived in West L.A., a few blocks south of Pico and west of Robertson. While many houses on the street were classic one-story Spanish-style cottages, [his] place was a monstrosity, a three-story stucco palace with a flat roof, three balconies festooned with gold ironwork, and four giant concrete columns flanking the front door. The lot was modest-sized, but the house was so enormous there was no room for landscaping. Instead of a front lawn, there was just a cement parking slab. There were no cars in front, and the house was dark. I parked across the street and decided to wait.
Answer: Kind of Blue (2010) Miles Corwin.
3. The apartment was as bare as [he] had ever seen it, making it look much smaller than it really was. Only boxes, like giant building blocks, sat atop each other on the threadbare rug. A plain black suit, a clearance item from the now shuttered Joseph’s Mens Wear in Little Tokyo, hung from a wire hanger from one of the grooves of the heater against the wall.
Answer: Blood Hina (2010) Naomi Hirahara.
4. The Bradbury was the dusty jewel of downtown. Built more than a century before, its beauty was old but still brighter and more enduring than any of the glass-and-marble towers that now dwarfed it like a phalanx of British guards surrounding a beautiful child. Its ornate lines and glazed tile surfaces had withstood the betrayal of both man and nature. It had survived earthquakes and riots, periods of abandonment and decay, and a city that often didn’t bother to safeguard what little culture and roots it had. [He] believed there wasn’t a more beautiful structure in the city — despite the reasons he had been inside it over the years.
Answer: Angels Flight (1999) Michael Connelly.
5. The Bradbury Building, at 304 South Broadway, was an incongruous place in which to house the dreaded Professional Standards Bureau, with its three hundred sergeants and detectives, including the Internal Affairs Group, all of whom had to handle seven thousand complaints a year, both internally and externally generated against a police force of nine thousand officers. The restored 1893 masterpiece, with its open-cage elevators, marble staircases, and five-story glass roof, was probably the most photographed interior in Los Angeles. Many a film noir classic had been shot inside that Mexican-tile courtyard flooded with natural light. He could easily imagine the ghosts of Robert Mitchum and Bogart exiting any one of the balcony offices in trench coats and fedoras as ferns in planter pots cast ominous shadows across their faces when they lit their inevitable smokes.
Answer: Hollywood Station (2006) Joseph Wambaugh.
6. A jet went by, rattling the windows of [her] Jetta. A jackrabbit loped unconcernedly across the empty street. The streetlights still stood, their lamp glass busted. Palm trees swayed like ghostly sentinels in the jet and ocean breezes The whole development was fenced off by rusting barbed wire and signs that said NO TRESPASSING, DANGER, DO NOT ENTER.
Answer: Damage Control (2011) Denise Hamilton.
7. I strolled toward the other end of the pool. The diving tower rose gleaming against a bank of fog that hid the sea. The ocean end was surrounded by a heavy wire fence. From a locked gate in the fence, a flight of concrete steps led down to the beach. High tides had gnawed and crumbled the lower steps. I leaned on the gatepost and lit a cigarette. I had to cup the match against the stream of cold air which flowed upward from the water. This and the heavy shifting sky overhead created the illusion that I was on the bow of a ship, and the ship was headed into foggy darkness.
Answer: The Barbarous Coast (1956) Ross Macdonald.
8. Around the perimeter of this twisted Eden was a barbed-wire fence. Every ten feet or so, on the other side of the fence, an armed uniformed guard stood at attention. I wondered if they were set there to keep the unsuspecting public out or to protect the obvious riches from plunderers.
Answer: The Long Fall (2009) Walter Mosley.
9. He nervously started up the short stretch of Washington Street that lay between Pacific Avenue and Venice Beach. At first, nothing seemed different; the flimsy one- or two-story buildings were painted in the same wan pastels as twenty-nine years ago. Then, with relief, he saw that only the exteriors were familiar. Most of the business names had changed. He felt like a tired dentist checking out two rows of freshly filled teeth.
Answer: Return to Venice (1987) George Fox.
10. Forest Lawn Memorial Park is four hundred acres of rolling green lawns at the foot of the Hollywood Hills in Glendale. With immaculate grounds, re-creations of famous churches, and burial areas with names like Slumberland, Vale of Memory, and Whispering Pines, I have always thought of it as a kind of Disneyland of the Dead.
Answer: L.A. Requiem (1999) Robert Crais.
11. Returning to the Valley, this time on Benedict Canyon, she got back on the 101 but exited well short of the Hilton on Calabasas, gliding onto Topanga Canyon Boulevard. To the north was suburbia. South shot straight into a tortuous canyon and that’s where she needed to be. The road that snaked past the junction of Old Topanga and New Topanga was treacherous if you didn’t know where you were going. [She] had driven it hundreds of times at night, for recreation, working the Aston at high speed around S-curves that gave the engine a chance to breathe.
Answer: The Murderer’s Daughter (2015) Jonathan Kellerman.