Book Trailer for Pilikia

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What I'm Reading

Over on Make Mine Mystery, you can read my blog post about two Hawaiian books, Dark Paradise by Lono Waiwaiole and The Colony by John Tayman.

I just finished Dogtown, the first in a series of three books by Mercedes Lambert. The book features Whitney Logan, an atorney fresh out of law school, in debt to her landlord and some other creditors who is struggling to get cast-off cases from other attorneys and the courts. Into her office walks a well-dressed woman with a thousand dollars who wants Whitney to find her missing housekeeper, an illegal immigrant. Whitney doesn't know immigration law but the money looks good, so she takes the case.

The story is set in as seamy a Los Angeles as Michael Connelly ever described. Whitney doesn't know the Latin-American subculture of LA, but she gets help getting around it from Lupe, a hooker in a tight red dress and a plucky attitude. The two of them find the missing housekeeper, but she turns out to be, not a housekeeper, but a struggling actress and revolutionary. She is also dead. Neither is the woman who hired Whitney who she said she was.

Whitney is a gym rat who knows iron and Lupe is a streetwise hooker who knows men. Neither of them knows the revolutionary subculture, but they learn. They take their licks and give back as good as they get. These are two women I could fall in love with. Dogtown was recently reprinted along with the second book in the series, Soultown, in a two-book volume from Stark House. The third book in the series, Ghosttown, was published for the first time in 2008 by Five-Star.

Mercedes Lambert's real name was Douglas Anne Munson. She was born in Tennessee in 1948 and finally settled in California in the 1960s. She went to law school at UCLA and became an attorney in the LA courts. She later left the legal profession to teach writing and journaling at UCLA and then moved to the Czech Republic to teach English. Dogtown was published in 1991 and Soultown in 1996. Ghosttown received numerous rejections from publishers. She continued to revise it while battling breast cancer. Mercedes died from the cancer in 2003 and Ghosttown was published four years later.

Michael Connelly says: "I never knew Mercedes Lambert (Douglas Anne Munson) but I knew her books. I read them all and loved them all. I loved them most because in the crowded field of authors who chose Los Angeles as the place of their fiction, she was unique. She was brave. She kept her head down and wrote what she wanted to write, explored what she wanted to explore. It didn’t matter who would publish it or who would read it. These were the stories she had to tell—if only to herself. In doing so she gave us characters we hadn’t seen before and took us to places we had never known."

I'm going to savor the other two books in this series. I'm sad there won't be any more.


  1. Helen Ginger said...

    Is this "make Helen cry Friday"? This is the third blog I've visited that almost brought me to tears.

    Another book to be added to my Buy list, for sure.

    Straight From Hel

  2. Cynde L. Hammond said...

    Hi, Mark!

    It looks as if I'll be buying new some books in the near future, thanks to you. Hmmm...I better ask my husband if he'll work some more overtime, huh? (LOL!)

    Nice to "meet" you, Mark!
    Cynde's Got The Write Stuff