Dark Crime Fiction Novels Set in The Glitz and Glamour of Hollywood
Hollywood. The name itself evokes images of celebrities, sun-warmed beaches, and glitzy jewels. Though the dark side of Los Angeles isn’t hidden, it’s often drowned out by its beauty. The hustle and bustle, the dark undertones, the stunning location…it all makes Hollywood a thrilling crime fiction setting. We’ve already explored mysteries & thrillers from all periods set in Los Angeles, but here we take a look at the latest. What’s new in The City of Angels? We go from the Red Carpet in The Devil May Dance to the grit-stained streets of the LA suburbs, but we never stray far away from the glamour and glitz—something all but impossible to do in beautiful Los Angeles.
Charlie and Margaret Marder, political stars in 1960s Washington DC, know all too well how the tangled web of power in the nation's capital can operate. But while they long to settle into the comforts of home, Attorney General Robert Kennedy has other plans. He needs them to look into a potential threat not only to the presidency, but to the security of the United States itself.
Charlie and Margaret quickly find themselves on a flight to sunny Los Angeles, where they’ll face off against a dazzling world of stars and studios. At the center of their investigation is Frank Sinatra, a close friend of President John F. Kennedy and a rumored mob crony, whom Charlie and Margaret must befriend to get the inside scoop. But in a town built on illusions, where friends and foes all look alike, nothing is easy, and drinks by the pool at the Sands and late-night adventures with the Rat Pack soon lead to a body in the trunk of their car. Before they know it, Charlie and Margaret are being pursued by sinister forces from Hollywood’s stages to the newly founded Church of Scientology, facing off against the darkest and most secret side of Hollywood’s power.
Happy Doll is a charming, if occasionally inexpert, private detective living just one sheer cliff drop beneath the Hollywood sign with his beloved half-Chihuahua half-Terrier, George. A veteran of both the Navy and LAPD, Doll supplements his meager income as a P.I. by working through the night at a local Thai spa that offers its clients a number of special services. Armed with his sixteen-inch steel telescopic baton, biting dry humor, and just a bit of a hero complex, the ex-cop sets out to protect the women who work there from clients who have trouble understanding the word "no."
Doll gets by just fine following his two basic rules: bark loudly and act first. But when things get out-of-hand with one particularly violent patron, even he finds himself wildly out of his depth, and then things take an even more dangerous twist when an old friend from his days as a cop shows up at his door with a bullet in his gut.
Related: Jonathan Ames Shares His List of Must-Read Noir Fiction Books
It is 1969, and flames can be seen on the horizon, protest wafts like smoke though the thick air, and Easy Rawlins, the Black private detective whose small agency finally has its own office, gets a visit from a white Vietnam veteran. The young man comes to Easy with a story that makes little sense. He and his lover, a beautiful young woman, were attacked in a citrus grove at the city’s outskirts. He may have killed a man, and the woman and his dog are now missing. Inclined to turn down what sounds like nothing but trouble, Easy takes the case when he realizes how damaged the young vet is from his war experiences—the bond between veterans superseding all other considerations.
The veteran is not Easy’s only unlooked-for trouble. Easy’s adopted daughter Feather’s white uncle shows up uninvited, raising questions and unsettling the life Easy has long forged for the now young woman. Where Feather sees a family reunion, Easy suspects something else, something that will break his heart.
LAPD homicide lieutenant Milo Sturgis is a master detective. He has a near-perfect solve rate and he’s written his own rule book. Some of those successes—the toughest ones—have involved his best friend, the brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware. But Milo doesn’t call Alex in unless cases are “different.”
This murder warrants an immediate call. Milo’s independence has been compromised as never before, as the department pressures him to cater to the demands of a mogul: a hard-to-fathom, megarich young woman who is obsessed with reopening the coldest of cases—the decades-old death of the mother she never knew.
Pushed to his emotional limit, Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Bruno Johnson struggles to hold his family together while immersed in his unrelenting career. His daughter, Olivia, is a teen mom to twin toddlers; her common-law husband, Derek Sams, is a thug; and one of their little boys has disappeared under his care.
The overwhelming intensity demanded of Bruno on this personal level is compounded by the brutal shotgun murder of a superior court judge and his wife, both friends of his. Bruno cannot ignore these violent crimes even though he’s supposedly off the law enforcement grid—undercover—working an illegal gun sting.
Tragedy strikes Bruno’s life on all fronts: family, friends, and professional—however, none of these colossal forces can match the unthinkable catastrophe that will forever dominate Bruno’s life.
In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club … These women who won’t stop asking questions … These women who got what they deserved …
In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.
Isaiah Quintabe is no longer IQ, the genius of East Long Beach; instead, he’s a man on the road and on the run, hiding in a small Northern California town when his room is broken into by a desperate young man on the trail of the state’s most prolific serial killer.
His old partner, Juanell Dodson, must go straight or lose his wife and child. His devil’s bargain? An internship at an LA advertising agency, where it turns out the rules of the street have simply been dressed in business casual, but where the aging company’s fortunes may well rest on their ability to attract a younger demographic. Dodson—”the hustler’s hustler”—just may be the right man for the job.
Ide is the crime writer’s crime writer, and he’s filled his best novel yet with desperate souls, courageous outcasts, an ex-stripper who’ll do anything to protect her son, and wild half-brothers who may be the very incarnation of evil.
What to Read Next