The Long Story of an LAPD Cold Case

Book review: The Lazarus Files, by Matthew McGough (Amazon / Book Depository) In 2009, a decades-old cold case, the 1986 murder of Sherri Rasmussen, a young newlywed nurse in Van Nuys, heated up when a suspect was finally arrested. As in many recent cases, new testing of old DNA evidence – here, an allegedly misplaced swab from a bite mark on Sherri’s arm – was … Continue reading The Long Story of an LAPD Cold Case

Long-Form Journalism from the Storyteller of “Dirty John”

Book review: Dirty John and Other True Stories of Outlaws and Outsiders, by Christopher Goffard (Amazon / Book Depository) Christopher Goffard, the journalist behind last year’s wildly popular Dirty John podcast, opens this frequently California-centric collection of his long-form investigative reporting with an introduction explaining the beginnings of his journalism career. It has to be among the best intros in recent memory. When I interview … Continue reading Long-Form Journalism from the Storyteller of “Dirty John”

The Historic Los Angeles Library Fire Sparks a Bigger Story: What Libraries Are to Us

Book review: The Library Book, by Susan Orlean All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library’s simple unspoken promise: Here is my story, please listen; here I am, please tell me your story. Journalist and author Susan Orlean began her latest book by investigating the devastating 1986 fire at Central Library in Los Angeles. By the time the fire was … Continue reading The Historic Los Angeles Library Fire Sparks a Bigger Story: What Libraries Are to Us

Writing Her Grandparents’ Lives and a Memoir of Childhood

Book review: On Sunset, by Kathryn Harrison (Amazon Book Depository) Never mind that we live in Los Angeles and that I was born in 1961; my childhood belongs to my mother’s parents, who, in the way of old people, have returned themselves to their pasts, taking me along. Author Kathryn Harrison writes a memoir of a slice of her childhood, a well-adjusted one considering some … Continue reading Writing Her Grandparents’ Lives and a Memoir of Childhood

The Fall of a Too-Good-to-Be-True Medical Startup

Book review: Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou Amazon Her emergence tapped into the public’s hunger to see a female entrepreneur break through in a technology world dominated by men. Women like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg had achieved a measure of renown in Silicon Valley, but they hadn’t created their own companies from scratch. In Elizabeth Holmes, the Valley had its first female … Continue reading The Fall of a Too-Good-to-Be-True Medical Startup

A 1937 Crime and Trial Setting Historical Precedence

Book review: Little Shoes, by Pamela Everett (Amazon / Book Depository) I noticed this book was coming out after reading Piu Eatwell’s take on Elizabeth Short’s infamous murder, Black Dahlia, Red Rose. In that book, Eatwell repeatedly references the profiling work of Dr. Paul De River, a psychiatrist who, before psychologically profiling and interviewing Dahlia suspect Leslie Dillon, had used similar techniques to help secure a conviction … Continue reading A 1937 Crime and Trial Setting Historical Precedence

Moving, Hopeful Writing on Growing Up Under Control and Getting Away

Book review: Apocalypse Child, by Flor Edwards Amazon I have no memory of my ancestry or record of my lineage; there is only Father David…When I picture my family tree, I see Mom…Dad…and my siblings – too many to count on two hands. When I envision my ancestors I see faraway Nordic countries where fjords split the land. I see Spain, where my parents met…When … Continue reading Moving, Hopeful Writing on Growing Up Under Control and Getting Away

Attempting to Solve the Unsolvable: A Writer Delves into a California Mystery

Book review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle McNamara Amazon Your fantasies ran deep, but they never tripped you up. Every investigation into an at-large violent offender is a footrace; you always maintained the lead…You knew to park just outside the standard police perimeter, between two houses or on a vacant lot, to avoid suspicion. You punched small holes in the glass panes, used … Continue reading Attempting to Solve the Unsolvable: A Writer Delves into a California Mystery

A View From the Border

Book review: The Line Becomes a River, by Francisco Cantú (Amazon / Book Depository) When I was in school, I spent all this time studying international relations, immigration, border security. I was always reading about policy and economics, looking at all these complex academic ways of addressing this big unsolvable problem. When I made the decision to apply for this job, I had the idea … Continue reading A View From the Border

Frank Stories of Schizophrenia

Book review: A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise, by Sandra Allen (Amazon / Book Depository) All those fuckers…all of them with their clicking pens and quiet judgment, all of them did not get it. There was something in the sky. This was the best moment of Bob’s life so far. This was when he realized that, no matter what, there was something bigger than all of … Continue reading Frank Stories of Schizophrenia

Beautiful Country Burn Again

Book review: South and West, by Joan Didion I am trying to place myself in history. I have been looking all my life for history and have yet to find it. The resolutely “colorful,” anecdotal quality of San Francisco history. “Characters” abound. It puts one off. In the South they are convinced that they are capable of having bloodied their land with history. In the West … Continue reading Beautiful Country Burn Again

An Unusual Coming of Age in L.A.

Book review: We Are All Shipwrecks, by Kelly Grey Carlisle If you read history, you could learn where the ideas you took for granted actually came from and, what I found oddly reassuring, that the world had always been a terrible mess. Kelly Grey Carlisle had an unconventional childhood, to put it mildly. In 1976, at three weeks old, while she lay in a dresser drawer … Continue reading An Unusual Coming of Age in L.A.