Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Makes Its Debut at Los Angeles Times Book Festival in April

Murder in La La Land -- cover -- from Top Facebook pg

As noted author Sue Ann Jaffarian says: "In Los Angeles even murder can be trendy. So settle in and enjoy your trip through La La Land. You may never want to visit us again–"

The bright orange cover hides the book's heart of darkness and murder in the City of the Angels.

Diversity is the name of the game in L.A. Diversity in population. Diversity in food. Even diversity in murder as in "Murder in La-La Land".

This anthology, with twelve stories by a variety of authors, made its debut at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival at UCLA at the end of April:

Its next appearance was at the May SinC-LA meeting where Gabriella Vasquez and I read from our stories. But the official release of the book is on May 22nd at the launch party at the Mystery Bookstore in Westwood:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Mystery Bookstore

1036-C Broxton Avenue

Westwood, California

The book, edited by well-known mystery writers Naomi Hirahara, Eric Stone and Juliet Blackwell, with a forward by Michael Mallory, features twelve stories of murder, mayhem and transitive vampires – whatever the hell they are – in the loony city that we call La La Land.

From the book's cover: "Los Angeles, the City of Angels, home to Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Where everyone is auditioning for a part, and where lies and deceit come veiled as glitz and glamour. Join us, if you dare: view a vampire movie in our Forever Hollywood Cemetery, or take a walk along the concrete banks of the L.A. River. But watch your step. Murder brews within the micro-cosmic homeless communes that call it home and sometimes riffs on melodic waves from the jazz street musicians just down the block. Twelve stories of mystery, murder, and mayhem, from the authors of Sisters In Crime/Los Angeles, that will send you scrambling for a bus ticket home. But watch your back. As they say, nobody leaves LA."

The call went out for stories of Murder in La-La Land. I tried hard to give them what they wanted. My story, CONTINENTAL TILT takes its title from Frank Lloyd Wright's theory that if you stand the country on its edge, all the loose nuts will roll into California: Two strait-laced detectives, who maybe should be strait-jacketed, are called to a murder in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. A vampire movie has been playing on the mausoleum wall and hundreds of, uh, guests have been picnicking and watching the movie from their graveside seats. The ironic thing about this is it really happens. People go to the cemetery dressed as various characters, in this case vampires, werewolves, etc., sit on the graves and "Spread out on beach chairs and blankets, with bottles of wine and beer, Boba tea, doing wheatgrass shooters and eating catered Mexasian sushi, fusion food for the Millennial-iPod generation. " (quoted from "Continental Tilt")

A man is murdered at the cemetery, with two vampire sized pin pricks in his neck, while the vampire movie is playing. Only in L.A.  Only in CONTINENTAL TILT.

A sample from the story is below.  The setup is that the two chagrinned Hollywood Division detectives arrive and start separating the crowd into like groups to start their investigation of the strangest murder mystery of their careers:

Continental Tilt logo -- D5 -- Drac blur 1 -- DSC_7470-1

"Okay, all vampires over here. Werewolves on the south side of the mausoleum. Frankensteins the north side. Charlie Mansons there, Marilyn Mansons over there." What was I saying?

"What the hell's the difference?" Mari said.

I shouted through a bullhorn. This was the new, kinder and gentler LAPD, but sometimes you still gotta use a bullhorn. "People dressed up as Kiss by the pavilion."

"What about Transitive Vampires?" a voice came out of the blue.

"Transvestite vampires?"

"Trans-i-tive Vampire – don't you know anything?"

"I don't get it. What the hell are you dressed up as?"

"A dangling participle," the trans-whatever vampire sneered. His disdainful tone said he thought he was a notch above the other vampires. As opposed to the normal vampires he wore all white, top hat, tails and cape. I was going snow-blind looking at him.

"Something's dangling. I'm not sure if it's your, uh, participle," Mari said.

"I really should be dressed as a verb. Transitives are verbs, but then I'd need a direct object, you know."

I didn't know. I didn't think I cared. But in ferreting out a case you have to have all the information. Okay, he was a dangling participle but he should have been a verb.

"Why don't you tell us a little about yourself? What are you doing here?"

"I came to watch the film, of course."

"You like to watch movies in a graveyard?"

"It sort of sets the mood, don't you think?"

"Did you see anything?"

"You mean like the deceased becoming deceased?"

"Yeah, like that."

"Certainly not. I was watching the film."

"Film, they all call it film. When did movies become film...or cin-e-mah?" Mari said. "What do you do for a living, besides sucking blood, of course?"

"Are you implying I'm the killer?"

"No, just a bloodsucker."

"I'm a writer. Agents are the real bloodsuckers."

"What do you write?"


"Have I read any of them?"

"Can you read?"

I stepped between him and Mari and turned him over to a D-I to get his stats.

"You still haven't told me where to go, Detective," he called to me, probably 'cause he knew I had weight. I was sorry we were still in earshot.

"I'd like to tell you where to go–" Mari said.

The transitive vampire stared at Mari. "You, dear lady, are an indefinite pronoun."

"Did he just insult me?" Mari glared.

"Just go with the other vampires," I said, stepping in front of her. I didn't want her to tarnish the rep of the kindergentlerLAPD.

"Good Lord, don't you know I'm not like the other vampires. I'm a transitive vampire."

"Aren't all vampires from Transylvania?" I said.

"It's trans-i-tive, not Tran-syl-vania," he said. "Don't you people know the difference?"

"Fine, find all the other transitive vampires and start your own group."

It was going to be a long night.

                    *      *      *

The editors tried to select stories with diverse locations and subjects and it's fun to see how everyone came up with their different takes on La-La Land. So get off of your yoga mats and skip the spinning for today, let your fingers do the walking across your keyboard to your favorite bookseller and order the damn book.


With stories by (and in order of appearance):

Paul D. Marks – "Continental Tilt"

Terri Nolan – "Hobo Joe"

Pam Ripling – "Just Like Jay"

Jack Maeby – "Beethoven's Last Chorus"

Jane DiLucchio – "Blondes Have More Fun"

Gabriela Vazquez – "Average Monster"

Jude McGee – "Death is Golden"

Patricia Morin – "Rap Sheet"

Kathy Kingston – "This I Know"

Donna May – "The Acquisition"

Kathleen Piche – "Board and Care"

Lenore Carlson – "Mrs. Spacek"

Murder in La-La Land authors and editors: