Monday, October 13, 2014

Mapping Marlowe’s Meanderings

We’re now just a month away from the opening of Bouchercon in Long Beach, California. So it seems like the perfect time to offer a little something extra to all of you mystery-fiction lovers who plan to attend that November 13-16 conference: a smartly designed map/guide showing “the neon-lit streets, mobbed-up joints, and seedy rooming houses” of neighboring Los Angeles made famous by author Raymond Chandler and his series private eye, Philip Marlowe.

London-based Herb Lester Associates, which produces a wide range of artful fold-out guides to cities around the world--from San Francisco and Stockholm to New York, Lisbon, Barcelona, Rome, and Melbourne--recently published “The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles.” It was conceived and illustrated, in the style of the classic Dell Mapbacks, by Pasadena artist Paul Rogers, who previously created the handsome cover for The Kept Girl (Esotouric Ink), a 2014 novel by Kim Cooper that features Chandler in a sleuthing role. Cooper, a local tour guide and historian, also penned the text for the back of this new map (which is 16.5 x 23.4 inches in size). As Rogers explains, his plotting of Chandlerian haunts “doesn’t include everything, no map could.
We probably missed one or two important spots, we left off some of the joints that are only memories; drive-ins with gaudy neon and the false fronts behind them, sleazy hamburger joints that could poison a toad. Los Angeles has changed a lot since Chandler’s day, when it was just a big dry sunny place with ugly houses and no style, when people slept on porches, and lots offering at eleven hundred dollars had no takers.

But you can still make the drive down Wilshire all the way to the ocean, you can still poke around the alleys and side streets of Hollywood, and the eucalyptus trees still give off a tomcat smell in warm weather. You can’t get a drink at Victor’s any more but Musso’s is still open. Park out back, only tourists and suckers go in the front door.
Cooper’s savvy text covers 50 different sites, from the Sternwood Mansion (familiar from The Big Sleep) and Marlowe’s office at Hollywood and Cahuenga boulevards, to Roger Wade’s Beach House (The Long Goodbye), Florian’s (Farewell, My Lovely), and Orrin Quest’s Rooming House (The Little Sister) in “Bay City”--which was Chandler’s name for Santa Monica. In addition, this map features a list of the assorted residences around L.A. where Marlowe’s creator lived and a timeline of important events in his 70-year life.

Paul Rogers’ art was inspired by the old Dell Mapbacks.

Copies of “The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles” usually go for £4.00 (roughly $6.40 in U.S. dollars) apiece. But now you could win one free of charge. Herb Lister has generously provided four copies to The Rap Sheet as prizes. To enter the drawing for one, all you need do is e-mail your name and postal address to And be sure to type “Raymond Chandler Map Contest” in the subject line. Entries will be accepted between now and midnight next Monday, October 20. The four recipients will be chosen completely at random, and their names listed on this page the following day.

Sorry, but this drawing is open only to U.S. residents.

So, if you’re going to miss out on the Bouchercon-related, all-day Raymond Chandler tour of L.A.--scheduled to leave from and return to the convention hotel on Wednesday, November 12--you can still take your own spin around local Chandler/Marlowe landmarks with a copy of Paul Rogers’ map stretched between your paws. Just don’t waste any time in entering this contest; I expect it to be very popular.

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