City of Angels, City of Books

I love L.A.

I know as a San Francisco resident I’m not supposed to express my deep enthusiasm for our warm, sunny, and friendly neighbor to the south, but really … the Bay Area needs to get over it.

I enjoy driving here–California’s bounty of beauty is showcased by the venerable and bell-lined Highway 101, extra hour of driving be damned. I enjoy staying here, particularly in one of my favorite hotels in the world, the historic Culver Hotel overlooking Culver Studios (formerly Desilu, formerly RKO, formerly Selznick).

Hollywood history doesn’t get richer than that, and hospitality doesn’t come better than what you find at the family-owned Culver Hotel (neither does the scrumptious food, prepared in house by a supremely creative chef).

I’ve been here since Friday– we drove down for the LA Times Festival of Books, ready to celebrate the sale of Italian rights for NOX DORMIENDA this week (coming soon in a mass market paperback edition in Italia!).

Friday night brought a fabulous party at one of the best bookstores in the world, The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood. I saw friends, met new ones, ran into the wonderful San Francisco PI writer, Chandler fan and Richard Avedon of the crime writing community, Mark Coggins, whom it’s a honor to be snapped by, and partied with pals Susan Arnout Smith, Cornelia Read, Jeri Westerson, Louise Ure, Sue Ann Jaffarian, and a lot of other colleagues–here’s the complete list, courtesy of the Mystery Bookstore:

Shilpa Agarwal, Brett Battles, James Scott Bell, Cara Black, Marc Blatte, Carol Higgins Clark, Mary Higgins Clark, Dianne Emley, Tom Epperson, Christa Faust, David Fuller, Michelle Gagnon, Victor Gischler, Lee Goldberg, Chris Grabenstein, Robert Greer, Denise Hamilton, Naomi Hirahara, Gregg Hurwitz, Sue Ann Jaffarian, Craig Johnson, Leslie Klinger, John Lescroart, Paul Levine, Sheila Lowe, Lisa Lutz, Robert Masello, George Mastras, T. Jefferson Parker, Gary Phillips, William Rabkin, Cornelia Read, Patricia Smiley, Susan Arnout Smith, Mark Haskell Smith, Eric Stone, Kelli Stanley, Louise Ure, Sarah Weinman, Jeri Westerson, John Morgan Wilson and Edward Wright!

Saturday we visited two of the outstanding stores in the area, Book ‘Em Mysteries in South Pasadena and Vroman’s in Pasadena, found some gorgeous vintage jewelry at a thrift shop, and played tourist on Hollywood Boulvard at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where I literally stood in Humphrey Bogart’s footsteps.

Today was Festival day … and it was overwhelming. First, the UCLA campus is breathtaking. And then … Booths! Tents! Pavilions! Sugar-coated almonds! Flyers shoved at you from all directions! And, most importantly … books. Books, books, everywhere. Hardcovers, softcovers, first editions, antiquarian, brand-spanking new. LA must be one of the most literate places in America, judging from the amount of people flocking to this incredible and amazing festival.

I visited with my Sisters in Crime, where I ran into friends and chatted with other authors; I dropped by the wonderful Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego’s superlative specialty bookstore; and I signed at The Mystery Bookstore with Edgar nominees Tom Epperson and David Fuller, Lefty nominee, funny lady and friend Sue Ann Jaffarian, and as-sweet-as-her-books Joanne Fluke, who brought cream puffs for all.

All in all, an amazing adventure, one I can’t wait to repeat next year when RICE BOWL launches. I love fog, but sunshine, blue skies, and good books make for a true Dream Factory.

Back soon with photos from the Festival and the road, as well as the promised review of Dick Powell’s Cornered.