Growing up in a small town in Texas, I was so obsessed with L.A. stories that all I wanted to do was pack my bags and head west. Unfortunately, my mother wasn’t on board with my plan and I was forced to settle on reading about the City of Angels instead.
Now that I call L.A. home, I understand there’s so much more to this place than the walk of fame and sunset strip. Here are five of my favorite L.A. thrillers that showcase the good, the bad, the glamorous, and the places in between.
by James Ellroy
A classic L.A. crime novel, my original obsession with Hollywood noir began here. The Black Dahlia stands the test of time, exploring one of the most famous unsolved Hollywood murders while taking the reader on a tour of post-war Hollywood and its sinister underbelly.
Rachel Howzell Hall
A native Angeleno and best-selling author, Rachel Howzell Hall brings South L.A. to life exploring it through the eyes of Detective Eloise “Lou” Norton as she sets out to prove that a young girl’s death wasn’t suicide while unraveling new details about her own sister’s death. In the first novel in the Lou Horton series, Howzell Hall does a fantastic job of showcasing life south of the 10 freeway; while illuminating the inevitable gentrification happening across the city.
Kellye Garrett’s mystery introduces us to a fledgling actress turned amateur sleuth, hoping to save her parents’ home by solving a hit and run and nabbing the reward money. Garrett takes the reader on a fun ride through the backstreets of Los Angeles, interspersing the story with a glimpse of celebrity culture, fashion and of course, murder. Though the sites are familiar, Garrett infuses this story with undeniable humor and charm.
by Joe Ide
Joe Ide burst onto the thriller scene with his New York Times debut novel, IQ, which follows Isaiah Quintabe, a high school dropout turned private investigator, working to solve crimes for his neighbors in his East Long Beach neighborhood. Ide grew up in South Central, far from celebrities and TMZ culture, and he incorporates his knowledge and love for his neighborhood.
A master of L.A. noir, Michael Connelly’s novels are always a true love letter to L.A. Though it’s hard to pick a favorite, I’ve got a soft spot for Angels Flight, a Harry Bosch novel, which explores the murder of a high-profile lawyer found on Angels Flight, a cable railway in downtown L.A. that became a historical landmark in the city.
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