By both design and coincidence, I read three consecutive books on Los Angeles over the last 48 hours. The first two were good 4-star reads and the third was an excellent 5-star one…
The Empty Glass
Oliver Stone’s Blonde.
This got poor reviews and I guess I get it? I suppose it depends on what your expectations are. Me personally, I enjoyed this wild romp through Los Angeles as a low level county morgue guy tries to unravel a government conspiracy around Marilyn Monroe’s death. Throw in some good LA scenes, a Johnny Rosselli (!) cameo, and things not being what they seem and I’m in. The dialogue works, the pacing is good. It’s a good book. I knew what I was getting into and I liked it for what it was. I hope this J.I. Baker writes again.
A Student of History
This wasn’t quite what I expected but I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s still very good but it’s more of a character exploration on upper crust Los Angeles than it is anything else. Like if Chinatownfocused specifically on the Mulwray family through the eyes of an academic and not a private investigator. Definitely not a potboiler about how the rich get away with things, though that is somewhat thematic. More of how the ossified blue bloods live their lives in self denial and how we peons can never understand them. The mystery is predictable so don’t read it for that but DO read it to learn more about LA.
Friend of the Devil (Reckless #2)
If the first book in the series was a fun, exciting ground rule double, this one is an out-of-the-park home run. A great crime thriller exploring the seedy history of 70s Los Angeles and how it abutted the 80s. Sean Phillips’ art work does the story justice. These books are absolutely fantastic and I don’t know why I put off reading them for so long. One of my favorite new finds of 2022.