Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A New Life Awaits You In The Off-World Colonies

Los Angeles, CA

Eight years. That's all we've got before the replicants run rampant through the streets and we all talk about turtles on their backs baking in the sun.

It's good to see the city council doing it's part to make things a little more Blade Runner around here.

As part of the planned renovation of the Wilshire Grand Hotel the city council voted in a plan allowing new signage over by the 110 freeway. If everything goes right (or wrong depending on your point of view) they'll have, besides a $79 million tax break that we'll inevitable foot the bill on, a new 45-story hotel and an adjoining 65-story office building.

With REALLY BIG signs.

We're talking 10 stories tall here. Flashing lights, blinking icons, full motion video.

Geishas eating candy.

And it's only about ten blocks from the Bradbury Building. How cool is that?

Now that we've got that handled where the fuck is my spinner?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dundee Noir

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you a dark man for a dark time.  Scottish author Russel D McLean

Eats puppies

He's come by to talk about his new crime novel THE LOST SISTER.
Does not have a happy ending

And about the dark side of his home town of Dundee. 

Full of Morris Dancers. 

Take it away, Mr. McLean.



Big city. Bright lights.  A million dreams, most of them broken.

You don’t get more noir than LA. Right?

Don’t count on it. Today, I’m going to take you away from the City of Angels. In fact, I’m gonna take you on a little transatlantic trip. Don’t worry. You’re not going to wind up dead in a strange land. Not if you stick close to me.

Oh, who am I? Yeah, I’m not Blackmoore. I may have a beard, but I talk a little funny and I’m a little stockier, too. It comes from eating all that Haggis, you see. My name is Russel D McLean, and I’m a crime writer. My second novel, THE LOST SISTER just came out from the fine, beautiful folks at St Martin’s and to celebrate, I’ve been invading various blogs across the internet. Barging in and taking the poor, unsuspecting readers by surprise. But don’t worry, I won’t show you what’s under my kilt.

Instead, like I said, I’m going to take you somewhere. To the place I write about. A far cry from Los Angeles. A place so removed, it might even be a different planet to some of you.

Dundee. Scotland. The east coast, on the banks of the River Tay. At its heart is the Law Hill, a now extinct volcano that watches peacefully over the city. It’s a city with a long and varies history and whole every schoolchild in Scotland can probably recite the Three “J”’s of Dundee (Jam, Jute and Journalism) they might not be able to tell why the city is the perfect setting for a series of crime thrillers. Until recently, its been considered a distant fourth place behind Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, but its this relative obscurity that has made it, for me, the ideal place to set my two crime novels THE GOOD SON and its recently released follow-up THE LOST SISTER. It’s a city that is constantly changing and evolving. With new money coming from the computer games industry and medical research, much of the city is changing, but it’s this kind of atmosphere that always makes for an intriguing crime novel. And, as I discovered a few years after moving here, there was a darker side to the City of Discovery than I had ever expected.

In 2006, a book spent ten weeks at the top of the Scottish book charts. It was a true crime book based solely around Dundee. At that time, I was between agents and feeling a little hopeless. Wondering if I’d made a mistake to write about the city. The success of THE LAW KILLERS showed me there was still a potential, and of course I bought the book to see what I had missed in this city; what kind of darkness lurked in the heart of Dundonians.

This is a city where we have had own Black Dahlia style murders. In the late 1970’s, a woman’s body – her name was Carol Lanner – was found in the Templeton woods by a couple out for a walk. Her naked body was covered by the snow and she had died violently. The hunt was massive and would eventually prove near futile. Her belongings would be found 85 miles away. There would be several arrests that would amount to nothing. And a second body would also be found.

The investigation would last for decades. In 2005 an arrest would be made, the suspect later released by the police. 

There have been killers inspired by the film DIRTY HARRY. A murder at a local gunshop   led to the eventual arrest of two lads who planned  to use their haul to pull off a kidnapping that would result in the ransom drop being made in the style of the first Dirty Harry film, the courier being directed to payphones across the city, the tour designed to throw off police surveillance. It sounds incredible, but the plans found by police were detailed and given the brutal nature of the initial killing, there is no doubt they would have followed through on their plans.

The case of Robert Mone (sensationalised in various reports here by the Daily Record), a disturbed individual who held a siege in a school before later killing three people in an attempted breakout from the hospital where he was being held was another case that would shock the city. But even more shocking was the fact that his father would later kill three people. It is the kind of tragedy that speaks to the darker side of human nature, that shows you such events are no respecter of geography.

We’ve even had a brush with “celebrity” crime in Dundee. When I was a student, one of my flatmates pointed out that across the street, one of the flats was associated with Jack The Ripper. A little research proved that one of the suspects for the infamous series of London killings had indeed lived in Dundee for a short while.

In short, the truth is that here in Dundee, there’s a dark and seedy side to the city. As there is in any urban space. Los Angeles may have its sprawling areas of deprivation, but Dundee’s relatively compact space presents its own intriguing twilight world. The history of crime here in the city on its own makes for fascinating research, adding a flavour to fiction stories by writers such as myself of Dundee Book Prize winner Chris Longmuir whose own novel, DEAD WOOD was directly influenced by the Templeton Woods murders.

I have yet to use any real life crime as a plot point or inspiration, but the knowledge of the darker sides of the streets here informs my writing and helps me to paint the shadow side of the city. Of course it is only one side of the story, and like any city Dundee has its sunnier side, something that crime writers can use to create contrasts and textures.

It may not be the city of Angels, but Dundee holds just as many dark secrets along its centuries old streets. There really are a million stories in this naked city. THE LOST SISTER, like the old Los Angeles PI stories, chronicles the mean streets in a fictional fashion. But just because it’s fictional doesn’t mean there is no noir side to the reality of this exciting, vibrant and constantly evolving city I have chosen to write about.

The Lost Sister is available in hardcover and e-book from St Martin’s Press (US) and in paperback from Five Leaves publications (UK)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

So That's What They Call A Drunken Rage Fueled Killing

Los Angeles, CA

Second Degree Murder.

Ex-LAFD Fire Captain David Del Toro, 53, was found guilty of killing Jennifer Flores back in August 2006 and then dragging her body down the street while trying to find a place to dump the body.

It's been a long, slow slog through the justice system to get to this point. Delay after delay, defense tricks, evidence gathering, lots of back and forth in the comments. Damn, after this my traffic's gonna plummet.

Sentencing has not yet been scheduled, but it should take a little less time than it took to get to trial.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Porn, Genre and Rule 34

I'm not really here today.

No, I have whored myself out to the fine folks at Murderati to talk about the intersections of genre and how it's kind of like Thomas The Tank Engine slash fiction.

Come on by and mock. You know you want to.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cruel Shoes

Hillcrest, CA

You ever seen women fight? I'm not talking professionally, where they know what they're doing. I'm talking so pissed off they snap and turn into nightmare rabid she-devils striking with claws and fangs and fire burning from their eyes.

They fight uglier than men. I think a lot of that is because of how men are acculturated to use violence against each other for everything from redressing wrongs and gaining respect, to sealing friendships. Yeah, we're kind of weird that way.

A lot of women don't interact with each other quite the same way men do. From what I've been able to tell, when they fight, they fight dirty. Men have, oddly enough, a bunch of cultural failsafes built in. It either ends in death, broken bones or buying a round of beer. Sometimes all three.

The only thing that might maybe help you is if they don't have the same body strength as men. And that's iffy. I know a lot of slow, fat guys who could get taken down by a 12-year-old girl in a heartbeat.

But shit, can you imagine if they did? How ugly that would be? It might look a little something like this.

A group of transvestites got into a brawl at a San Diego taco shop and boy-howdy was it nasty. Check out the lady in the little white number going to town with a pair of spiked heels. Jesus fuck. Imagine getting a few of those shots in the kidneys.

Man, talk about a catfight. Seems it started over who had the best body. You know, the important stuff.

According to a comment in the original story the cops didn't break up the fight. Instead the ladies got tired, sashayed out the door and started chucking chairs at each other.

I'm sure they'll let reason prevail and they'll let this whole thing blow over. Right?

Yeah, I don't think so, either.

Oh, I Think He Knew

Costa Mesa, CA

So the cops show up at a house to pick up the two adult sons of a man they'd been in a "domestic dispute" with. Which, by the way, are like the funnest calls ever. I mean, wouldn't you want to get in the middle of a family fight that's boiled over into violence? Yeah, those are a blast.

Right, so the cops show up to grab the sons, but daddy's not home. He is, however in his Tacoma. The cops find him, try to stop him. Pops is having none of it. Chase ensues.

And ends with him crashing into a parked patrolcar at 60 miles an hour.

With his sons inside.
Hildeman says it's not clear whether the man knew his sons were in the police car at the time.
Well, if he didn't I'm sure he'll laugh when he finds out.

Just as soon as they pull the three of them out of the ICU.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Be Careful What You Feed Your Man-Eating Terror Machine

Hemet, CA

Criminals seem to have this thing for exotic animals. Powerful animals. Mean animals. Animals they can chain up to guard their ill gotten treasures like some villain in a Conan comic. Tigers, bears, pit bulls.

But then they have to go and fuck 'em up.

Narcotics agents raided a Hemet pot house Tuesday and found, amid the Orange Bud, Purple Power and Hindu Kush they found an alligator.

A really mellow alligator. They hauled it off after taping its mouth shut.

What the hell's the point of having a man-eating reptile around to guard your stash when it's dipping into the chronic?

Feds bust down the door and it's all, "Quick, Reggie, sic 'em!"

Only the gator's all, "Yeah, I'll get there, man. Just, you know, chill. Hey, you want a hit?"

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

You Are Listening To Los Angeles

Ran into this site the other day and I can't stop listening. It's a mashup of ambient techno music and a live LAPD radio feed from radioreference.com.

I love LAPD radio chatter. It's this bizaare mix of the banal and the terrifying. Takes the kind of ear I don't have to pick out a lot of what's being said. Feels like watching a French film without subtitles. I pick up a word here, a word there.

This turns it into so much background noise. Oddly enough, it's very soothing.