Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hills of Homicide:
San Francisco in Crime Fiction

Less than two months from now, this year’s Bouchercon will open in San Francisco. The lineup of celebrity attendees has grown substantially in recent weeks, and now includes David Baldacci, Kate Atkinson, Sophie Littlefield, Mark Billingham, Lisa Lutz, Ace Atkins, Dana Stabenow, Colin Campbell, and Megan Abbott. General program details seem well in place, though specifics about some tours of the city have yet to be completely resolved.

It should be a grand time for all of the participants.

But why wait until mid-October to begin celebrating San Francisco’s contributions to the world of crime fiction? As anyone who’s ever read anything about the city’s history knows, San Francisco has hosted more than its fair share of thieves, prostitutes, shanghaiers, crooked gamblers, murderers, con men, pickpockets, pimps, and assorted other malefactors, including religious zealots and avaricious politicians. This rich stew of the criminally inclined has naturally inspired generations of writers--of whom San Francisco also claims more than its fair share--to concoct fiction endowed with characters who are less than slavish in adhering to the letter of the law. Those stories include some of our favorite books, movies, and TV series.

This afternoon The Rap Sheet will kick off a three-part tribute to San Francisco’s many appearances in crime fiction. We’ll start with an assessment of top-quality mystery novels based in Northern California’s foggiest big burg. Then we’ll dive into some popcorn and screen a few of our favorite noir films featuring local landmarks. And we intend to finish tomorrow by reminiscing about televised crime dramas set in this town that you never, ever want to call “Frisco”--at least not in front of its justly proud residents.

So sit back and enjoy. And as we roll along, if you have other suggestions of readable or viewable crime fiction with Bay Area backdrops, don’t hesitate to cite them in the Comments sections of our posts.

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