The best LA detectives with complex emotional lives

Who am I?

As a longtime Angeleno, I’ve read a lot about the dark underbelly of our dysfunctional metropolis, both in the news and in fiction. I try to incorporate the City of Angels as a strong presence in my writing, and when I read other writers who have put Los Angeles at the center, it gives me a sense of things the way they really are, a glimpse at a deeper reality. I see the detectives in LA noir and crime fiction as inextricably intertwined with the city, their weaknesses, and their emotional quandaries emerging from this place.


I wrote...

The Mythical Blond

By Christopher Church,

Book cover of The Mythical Blond

What is my book about?

Strange things happen in the desert Southwest. Hired to work a contract job at a remote military base in Nevada, psychic investigator Mason soon finds the Navy’s real motivation for luring him there involves an old friend and her ratty jalopy. Driving back to LA across the empty desert, Mason is soon shanghaied into a week of safecracking, a séance, and a time-travel excursion.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Project Chartreuse

Christopher Church Why did I love this book?

I’d be afraid to meet this detective, Slater, in a dark alley, as he’s unpredictable and has a quick temper. At the same time I have to admit he’s the kind of guy I’d want to date. Smart and competent in his investigative work, Slater is a mass of contradictions, a textbook sex addict and in complete denial about it, plus he drinks too much. His pugilistic approach to the world evolves through the series, and in this book his slightly warped moral compass has him working to outsmart the cops to track down a violent conspiracy theorist.

By George Bixley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Project Chartreuse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don’t mess with the hothead—or he might just mess with you. Slater Ibáñez is only interested in two kinds of guys: the ones he wants to punch, and the ones he sleeps with. Things get interesting when they start to overlap. A freelance investigator, Slater trolls the dark side of Los Angeles, rooting out insurance fraud, not afraid to use whatever means necessary to get things done, and not about to hold back with his fists. A queer antihero for a new age, Slater walks the line between ordinary life and the frayed fringes of society, keeping his balance with…


Book cover of Chiseler with a Glass Jaw

Christopher Church Why did I love this book?

I found this mystery unusual because there are two protagonists, the fledgling detective Truman and his reluctant friend Celeste. I grew up with a canny mother and sisters, and seeing Celeste tacitly guide Truman in his new career, using her broader understanding of the world, feels familiar. The pair confront a blackmailing bully and try to shut down his operation. Their hedonistic approach to life, even in the most intense moments, is lighthearted and fun, and any woman who’s had a gay best friend or vice versa will recognize the humor in the pair of them chasing the same guys.

By Chester Henry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chiseler with a Glass Jaw as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Never one to let a bully get away with harassing someone, Celeste intervenes with a knockout punch, and in the melee Truman winds up in possession of the bully’s cell phone. Through Truman’s inventive online stalking and Celeste tracking down the victim, they uncover a seedy nest of grifters bent on profiting from human misery. Truman gets involved with Isaac, a closeted lawyer with a quick temper, but how does he fit into the scam? Running down leads at hotel bars, hip boutiques, and a grimy body shop, Truman and Celeste go all in, posing undercover at a night club…


Book cover of Farewell, My Lovely

Christopher Church Why did I love this book?

Chandler’s Philip Marlowe is so well known that most people already have a sense that he’s a tough guy whose emotional qualms are readily subdued by booze. But in this novel, I noticed that Marlowe tunes in to things that a typical hard head wouldn’t: he muses on how a building’s lobby is decorated, and he assesses the foliage growing out front. The brutal racism of the era permeates the story, and for me that aspect makes it the opposite of escapist reading—it’s a tangential history lesson about the culture of LA, and it makes me grateful that things are better today.

By Raymond Chandler,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Farewell, My Lovely as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The renowned novel from crime fiction master Raymond Chandler, with the "quintessential urban private eye" (Los Angeles Times), Philip Marlowe • Featuring the iconic character that inspired the forthcoming film Marlowe, starring Liam Neeson

Philip Marlowe's about to give up on a completely routine case when he finds himself in the wrong place at the right time to get caught up in a murder that leads to a ring of jewel thieves, another murder, a fortune-teller, a couple more murders, and more corruption than your average graveyard.


Book cover of City of Bones

Christopher Church Why did I love this book?

I don’t think Connelly’s intention was to write horror, but his visceral description of the corpses and the minutia of murder in this novel made my stomach churn. An unpleasant experience, yes, but it’s vivid and effective writing. Harry Bosch is a detective with weakness for a specific type of woman, and of course he gets mixed up with Julia, a hot tomato who’s new to the force, and of course she messes up his investigation into the bones. You might want to kick Bosch in the caboose for not thinking more lucidly, but eventually he manages to outsmart his villains.

By Michael Connelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked City of Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The outstanding eighth Harry Bosch thriller from the award-winning No. 1 bestselling author of The Lincoln Lawyer. City of Bones is featured in Amazon Prime's BOSCH TV series.

When the bones of a boy are found scattered in the Hollywood Hills, Harry Bosch is drawn into a case that brings up dark memories from his past.

Unearthing hidden stories, he finds the child's identity and reconstructs his fractured life, determined that he won't be forgotten. At the same time, a new love affair with a female cop begins to blossom - until a stunningly blown mission leaves him in more…


Book cover of Bunker Noir! True Crime on Los Angeles's Bunker Hill

Christopher Church Why did I love this book?

As a nonfiction book this doesn’t involve a specific detective, but it covers an array of dark crimes that happened on Bunker Hill, a dense residential neighborhood of downtown LA that was razed in the 1950s. I’m always amazed when true crime stories read as more far-fetched than the cases worked by fictional detectives: bodies in trunks, drunken rampages, shootings, stabbings, dismemberments. So much mayhem happened in those twenty blocks in the few decades the neighborhood existed. If you ever get the wrongheaded idea that the past was more idyllic and innocent than our messed-up era, thumb through Bunker Noir—you’ll see how shockingly violent our predecessors really were.

By Nathan Marsak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bunker Noir! True Crime on Los Angeles's Bunker Hill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bunker Noir! True Crime on Los Angeles's Bunker Hill! Bunker Hill, that mysterious suburb of downtown Los Angeles, covered by ramshackle Victorian mansions, populated by an permanent underclass, hated by City Hall. Bunker Hill was immortalized by pulp crime writers (Chandler, Cain) and in film noir pictures (Criss Cross, Kiss Me Deadly) until City Hall had enough, and wiped the whole thing clean like a stain from a countertop. In its great grand noir years of twisted alleyways and long shadows, crime flourished. We here at Bunker Hill Publishing and Fishmongers, Inc. captured that historic crime in a magazine recalling…


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Trouble in Queenstown

By Delia Pitts,

Book cover of Trouble in Queenstown

Delia Pitts

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Vandy Myrick became a cop to fulfill her father’s expectations. After her world cratered, she became a private investigator to satisfy her own desires. Now she’s back in Queenstown, New Jersey, her childhood home, in search of solace and recovery.

Soon after her return, Vandy takes on a divorce case for the mayor’s nephew, Leo Hannah. At first the surveillance job seems routine, but Vandy soon realizes there’s trouble beneath the surface when a racially-charged murder with connections to the Hannah family rocks Q-town. She’s a minor league PI with few friends and no resources. But Vandy has a determination few possess — she’ll stop at nothing to solve this case.

Trouble in Queenstown

By Delia Pitts,

What is this book about?

With Trouble in Queenstown, Delia Pitts introduces private investigator Vandy Myrick in a powerful mystery that blends grief, class, race, and family with thrilling results.

Evander “Vandy” Myrick became a cop to fulfill her father’s expectations. After her world cratered, she became a private eye to satisfy her own. Now she's back in Queenstown, New Jersey, her childhood home, in search of solace and recovery. It's a small community of nine thousand souls crammed into twelve square miles, fenced by cornfields, warehouses, pharma labs, and tract housing. As a Black woman, privacy is hard to come by in "Q-Town," and…


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