Gentle Reader. . .
As February draws to a close, and a blast of cool, wet winter seems just about to settle in, we're looking back on our first month in the publishing business and thinking maybe this isn't such an anachronistic business to be in after all.
The Kept Girl, Kim's fact-based mystery novel, made its debut on February 1st, with a deluxe edition winging itself out to the 65 marvelous Subscribers whose patronage so encouraged us, and made a nice dent in the cost of the print run, besides.
We were exclusively available in our favorite booth at our favorite book fair, riffed among notable scribes at Noir at the Bar and celebrated with a reading and party at Skylight Books, where our guests made quick work of the cake decorated with Paul Rogers' gorgeous art deco cover design.
A terrific feature in the influential Kirkus Reviews called the story "commendable" and expressed eagerness to see a sequel, and an interview in the L.A. Times' Jacket Copy resulted in Amazon.com selling out of the book and ordering quite a few more copies.
Kim was also featured on several literary blogs with guest posts ranging from a ghost story about the writing process to one weird trick for getting period dialogue "just so."
And over on Amazon, the reviews are trickling in, with a 4.5 star average and such quotable sentiments as: The fundamental, almost tropical 'rot' Chandler depicts in his novels is present here 'in spades.' — The mix of fact and fiction could have been daunting for a first-time novelist, but Kim Cooper understands this turf like a beat cop — Cooper's writing style is wonderful, warm and inviting, and rich with ambiance — lovely and intriguing — Very few terrific historians can write a story this well. Just wonderful work. (Gee, thanks!)
One reason we started our own imprint is that we believe a big part of the market for our books is the folks who take our tours. And happily, that's proved to be the case, with quite a few of our gentle riders choosing to go home with a printed souvenir. Not a bad start in a month filled with architecture and history tours!
We close our first month in business with the very happy news that The Kept Girl has found a distributor, which means we'll be better able to get books into libraries and distant stores, and focus more on the creative aspects of the book trade, and less on the slog. Might that mean a sequel? Hmmm. . . could be!
We're back on the bus this Saturday, with a few seats left on that rollicking Downtown "double feature" Hotel Horrors & Main Street Vice, now featuring a newly discovered tale of love gone horribly wrong on old Skid Row. And coming soon, we'll be in the crime lab getting deep into the weird side of San Gabriel Valley crime lore. (Could you win a ticket? Yes, you could.) Join us, do!
Upcoming Tours & Happenings
From the founding of the city through the 1940s, downtown was the true center of Los Angeles, a lively, densely populated, exciting and sometimes dangerous place. After many quiet decades, downtown is making an incredible return. But while many of the historic buildings remain, their human context has been lost. This downtown double feature tour, hosted by Kim Cooper, Joan Renner and Richard Schave, is meant to bring alive the old ghosts and memories that cling to the streets and structures of the historic core, and is especially recommended for downtown residents curious about their neighborhood's neglected history.
The Crown City masquerades as a calm and refined retreat, where well-bred ladies glide around their perfect bungalows and everyone knows what fork to use first. But don't be fooled by appearances. Dip into the confidential files of old Pasadena and meet assassins and oddballs, kidnappers and slashers, Satanists and all manner of maniac in a delightful little tour you WON'T find recommended by the better class of people! From celebrated cases like the RFK assassination (with a visit to Sirhan Sirhan's folks' house), "Eraserhead" star Jack Nance's strange end, black magician/rocket scientist Jack Parsons' death-by-misadventure and the 1926 Rose Parade grand stand collapse, to fascinating obscurities, the tour's dozens of murders, arsons, kidnappings, robberies, suicides, auto wrecks and oddball happening sites provide a alternate history of Pasadena that's as fascinating as it is creepy. Passengers will tour the old Millionaire's Row on Orange Grove, thrill to the shocking Sphinx Murder on the steps of the downtown Masonic Hall and discover why people named Judd should think twice before moving to Pasadena.
On this guided tour through the Beverly Hills of the early 20th Century, Crime Bus passengers thrill as Jazz Age bootleggers run amok, marvel at the Krazy Kafitz family's litany of murder-suicides, attempted husband slayings, Byzantine estate battles and mad bombings, visit the shortest street in Los Angeles (15' long Powers Place, with its magnificent views of the mansions of Alvarado Terrace), discover which fabulous mansion was once transformed into a functioning whiskey factory using every room in the house, and stroll the haunted paths of Rosedale Cemetery, site of notable burials (May K. Rindge, the mother of Malibu) and odd graveside crimes. Featured players include the most famous dwarf in Hollywood, mass suicide ringleader Reverend Jim Jones, wacky millionaires who can't control their automobiles, human mole bank robbers, comically inept fumigators, kids trapped in tar pits, and dozens of other unusual and fascinating denizens of early Los Angeles.
Come explore Charles Bukowski's lost Los Angeles and the fascinating contradictions that make this great local writer such a hoot to explore. Haunts of a Dirty Old Man is a raucous day out celebrating liquor, ladies, pimps and poets. The tour includes a visit to Buk's DeLongpre bungalow, where you'll see the Cultural-Historic Monument sign that we helped to get approved, and a mid-tour provisions stop at Pink Elephant Liquor.
You are invited to be part of a transformative downtown experience. The Sunday Salon is the free monthly gathering of our creative consortium LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. From noon to 2pm, at Les Noces du Figaro on Broadway, we hope you'll join L.A.'s most innovative artists, writers and performers to enjoy good company, hearty comfort food, and presentations from fascinating LAVA Visionaries. This month, historian Tom Sitton, author of The Courthouse Crowd: Los Angeles County and its Government, 1850-1950, takes us on a tour of a rogue's gallery of early L.A. politicos. Then the focus turns to 1929 Downtown and Kim Cooper's new mystery novel starring the young Raymond Chandler, The Kept Girl. Kim will discuss the process of transforming real true crime stories into fiction, and ace cover artist Paul Rogers will share how he discovers remnants of L.A. history in the landscape and turns them into contemporary illustrations.
Join us on this iconic, unsolved Los Angeles murder mystery tour. Our excursion begins in the historic Olive Street lobby of the Biltmore Hotel and ends in time for you to take tea and crumpets where Beth Short waited out the last hours of her freedom before walking south into hell. After multiple revisions, this is less a murder tour than a social history of 1940s Hollywood female culture, mass media and madness, and we welcome you to join us for the ride. This tour always sells out, so reserve your spot today.
Ride along on a very pulpy path on a wide-ranging tour that digs deep into the literature, film and real life vices that inform that most murderous genre, film noir — from Double Indemnity (where Raymond Chandler's Hollywood career intersects with Cain's) to The Postman Always Rings Twice to Mildred Pierce and beyond. The tour rolls through Hollywood, Glendale and old Skid Row, lost lion farms, murderous sopranos, fascist film censors, offbeat cemeteries — all in a quest to reveal the delicious, and deeply influential, nightmares that are Cain's gift to the world.
Forget Hollywood, babe, 'cause the quintessential LA town in definitely El Monte, its history packed with noirish murders, brilliant thespians, loony Nazis, James Ellroy's naked lunch and the lion farm that MGM's celebrated kitty called home. See all this and so much more, including the Man from Mars Bandit's Waterloo, when you climb aboard the daffiest crime tour in our arsenal, and the only one that includes a dumpling picnic at a landmark playground populated with fantastical giant sea creatures!
Join us for a journey from the downtown of Chandler's pre-literary youth (but which always lingered at the fore of his imagination) to the Hollywood of his greatest success, with a stop along the way at Tai Kim's Scoops for unexpected gelato creations inspired by the author. We'll start the tour following in the young Chandler's footsteps, as he roamed the blocks near the downtown oil company office where he worked. See sites from Lady in the Lake and The Little Sister, discover the real Philip Marlowe (Esotouric's exclusive scoop, and the inspiration for Kim's novel The Kept Girl), and be steeped in noir LA.
Go East, young ghoul, with our newest crime bus adventure. Come visit Boyle Heights, where the Night Stalker was captured and a mad dad ran amok. Roam the hallowed lawns of Evergreen, L.A.'s oldest cemetery and home of some memorable haunts and strange burials. Visit East L.A., where a deranged radio shop employee made mince meat of his boss and bride–and you can get your hair done in a building shaped like a giant tamale. Explore the ghastly streets of Commerce, where one small neighborhood's myriad crimes will shock and surprise. Visit Montebello, for scrumptious milk and cookies at Broguiere's Farm Fresh Dairy washed down with a horrifying case of child murder.
In our very occasional guest tour series, a delightful excursion that only comes around once a year, the Tom Waits bus adventure hosted by acclaimed rock critic David Smay (Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Swordfishtrombones). This voyage through the city that shaped one of our most eclectic musical visionaries starts in Skid Row and rolls through Hollywood and Echo Park, spotlighting the sites where Waits was transformed through the redemptive powers of love and other lures: the Tropicana Motel, Francis Coppola's Zoetrope Studios, the raunchy Ivar Theatre and so much more. Join us for a great day out in 1970s Los Angeles celebrating the music, the culture and the passions of Tom Waits.
AND FINALLY, LINKS!
Enter to win a ticket to our upcoming crime lab seminar on the Clark Rockefeller murder mystery, and more weird San Gabriel crime lore.
Last call for the time capsule L.A. Police Academy café.
Weird cult of corporate personality surrounds Zappos' Las Vegas redevelopment zone.
Dal Rae neon is kaput.
Hag's boxcar might make it out of Oildale yet.
How one chicken lunch launched the Save NYPL campaign into the stratosphere.
Building new on old Broadway.
KEEP THE TAGS AS THEY ARE FOR EMPHASIS SO THE SIGN OFF IS NOT LOST
Kim & Richard