The Book Diva’s Reads is pleased to host a visit from Bill Larkin, author of Detective Lessons and the recently released Bullet in the Blue Sky. Today Mr. Larkin will be discussing with us the importance of place in fiction, especially in crime fiction and thrillers.
On Crime Fiction and Thrillers:
Why Place and Setting Matters
“Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”
― Frank Lloyd Wright
Setting helps shape any novel, movie or TV show, but the canvas of Southern California is a particularly broad and varied one. Many giants of the crime fiction genre wrote or write here – Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Walter Mosley, James Ellroy, T. Jefferson Parker, Joseph Wambaugh, Michael Connelly, and Robert Crais. And dozens of other authors.
People still come to Southern California to chase their dreams, not just in Hollywood. There is a gravity to the place, and a burnout – people leave too. It offers the promise of nice weather, beautiful people, the entertainment industry, top universities, surfing, skiing, the casual lifestyle, and prosperity, but what’s also here many incredibly different pockets of demographics, corruption, natural disasters, over-crowding, heady politics, expensive real estate, the country’s most traffic-clogged freeways, and a lot of crime.
A familiar setting hits home to a reader who has been to places described. Familiar or not, setting always contributes to the mood and nuance of a story. Nobody wrote about a city better than Raymond Chandler wrote about Los Angeles. He is widely acknowledged by many crime writers to have influenced and motivated them, including me. Even though his books are some sixty years old, they so perfectly describe Los Angeles, even today. It tells you a lot about Philip Marlowe by how he traverses and interprets the city.
Chandler’s books take you so marvelously to a time and place in Los Angeles, with vivid characters and a city of darkness hiding in plain sunlight. Marlowe gives the reader all the confidence and coolness that you want to travel with him. See what he sees, learn what he figures out, and demonstrate that the fix was in. A lonely man whose insight is perceptive and who is not afraid of power, money, or the law. To me, his books are literary gold and to this day, they hold up extremely well in most respects.
A character has a certain relationship with the physical environment, the social underpinnings, the politics, and how he or she fits into the setting. The character must find order, make life-and-death choices, dispense justice, and maybe make somebody’s life better. The only rule is if you have a homicide, don’t make it a real restaurant!
The vast majority of places I write about are places I’ve been, worked, or visited. Mostly in Southern California, which encompasses over 12 million people and at least one hundred cities each with a population over 50,000. It’s such a vast landscape of different locales, socio-economic pockets, cultures, and world-famous landmarks.
Part of the premise to my new release, Bullet in the Blue Sky, is that the characters don’t know what’s really happening. Reality and the truth are illusory and elusive. Los Angeles captures that essence. It’s always changing and it’s always the same.
Meet the author:
Bill Larkin writes crime fiction and is the author of two highly-acclaimed books: Bullet in the Blue Sky and Detective Lessons. He has also written several short stories, including The Highlands and Shadow Truth, both Amazon category bestsellers. Bill previously served as a reserve with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, then the Los Angeles Police Department where he worked in four different divisions and a detective assignment. Bill is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.
Catch Up With Mr. Larkin:
Bill Larkin’s Website Bill Larkin’s Twitter
In the chaotic aftermath of a massive earthquake that leveled much of the Los Angeles region, a LAPD deputy chief sends an elite team of detectives on a rescue mission. They are ordered to set aside all law enforcement duties, to ignore the destruction and to focus on one task: Find LAPD Detective Gavin Shaw, who disappeared just before the earthquake.
Kevin “Schmitty” Schmidt of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department joins five others on the rescue team. With rioting, looting, attacks and homicides rampant in the streets, the six cops have to defend themselves while chasing down leads on the whereabouts of Shaw. The mission takes them through the dizzying war zone and the more they encounter, the more they wonder why they are searching for one man in these extreme circumstances. Why is this man so important to the deputy chief, and why now?
Schmitty discovers that others with high connections are also after Shaw. The questions pile even higher when they learn of a shadowy history between Shaw and the deputy chief. A history with deadly consequences for the team as they uncover a threat that elevates the mission to a race against time.
Genre: Crime Fiction
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: August 4th 2016
Number of Pages: 366
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
The adjunct lieutenant moved into the conference room and stood behind Jenkins and off to the side. Jenkins now addressed our five–person team.
“Your orders are to find Detective Gavin Shaw. He’s a member of Major Crimes and I need him here or I need to know where he is. That’s it. Nothing more.”
As Jenkins paused, several of the detectives looked at each other. Anderson opened her mouth. “Is he—”
Jenkins put up a hand. “You are not, repeat not, to take on law enforcement duties. You are not out to arrest looters, answer radio calls, help firefighters, or anything else you think you ought to be doing. Your only assignment is to find Shaw. And find him as fast as you possibly can. Am I clear?”
“Can I ask the importance of Detective Shaw at this juncture?” Mata said.
“No, you may not. Find him and bring him to me.”
“A search-and-rescue mission?” Anderson said in a puzzled tone.
“Call it that, Anderson. Lieutenant Tallon is in charge and you’d better be aware of what you’re facing. This city is falling apart. Aside from the destruction, there are forty-five thousand gang members and at least that same number of state parolees and felons on probation. Then there are the opportunists who will loot, burglarize, and kill without the police to stop them. That’s probably a hundred fifty thousand bad guys in a city of rubble and fire.”
Jenkins let that number sink in a moment. The man projected political polish, as I would expect from somebody of his rank, but he didn’t hide his edgy urgency.
He went on. “The LAPD has almost ten thousand sworn, but who knows how many are still alive, much less how many can physically get mobilized. Break that down into twelve-hour shifts and there might be two thousand cops in the whole city at any given time. Three thousand if we’re lucky.”
Lieutenant Tallon said, “Sir that makes the odds against the LAPD about sixty-to-one.” His voice carried both cordiality and self-assurance.
Jenkins nodded. “That’s right. But you will be undercover. Plain clothes and a plain vehicle.”
“Where is Shaw?” Anderson asked.
“I don’t know.” Jenkins nodded to his adjunct who stepped forward and handed a folder to Tallon, then stepped back. “Here is his address and personal information. Best guess is home, but start wherever you need to and find the man.”
Anderson made a small snort. “What if he’s dead?”
“You find him, either way.”
One thing was for sure. Jenkins wasn’t sugarcoating the assignment.
“What about help from the outside?” I asked.
“In time. They’ll mobilize the National Guard and we’ll get relief and search-and-rescue teams, but it’ll take days.”
Tallon said, “We’ll be mostly on our own for the first forty-eight hours. Keep in mind just about every other city in Southern California has the same problems. Some worse, some better.”
“Jesus,” Anderson said.
Tallon said, “Chief, you’ll be here? We bring Shaw here?”
“At this time, I am in command of the department. The chief, assistant and other deputy chiefs have not yet been in contact. That means I’m the Director of Emergency Operations until further notice. That’s all. Dismissed.”
Jenkins motioned to Tallon to follow him and they stepped outside of the conference room with the adjunct lieutenant close behind. Tallon stood about six inches taller than the deputy chief, but Jenkins didn’t seem the least bit intimidated.
The doorway stayed open and I stood up, keeping my back to them, but close enough to hear.
“Lieutenant, I don’t know you very well, but I’ll tell you this with certainty. This is the most difficult challenge you’ll ever face on this job. I was told you have the intellect, resourcefulness, and tenacity to carry this out. Do not disappoint me.”
I heard Jenkins walk away. When I turned, Tallon had locked eyes with the other lieutenant. A beat later, she hurried after her boss.
** / **
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Bill Larkin. There will be ONE (1) prize & ONE (1) Winner for this tour. The winner will receive 1 copy of Bullet in the Blue Sky by Bill Larkin. Winners within the United States may choose either an eBook or a physical book, however, winners outside the US can only receive an eBook. This is subject to change without notification. The giveaway begins on August 1st and runs through September 30th, 2016.
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