My newest column for the Los Angeles Times looks specifically at Justin Peacock's new novel BLIND MAN'S ALLEY and at the seeming dearth of crime fiction centered around real estate. Here's how the piece opens:
Though I write for this West Coast newspaper, I live in New York City. That means, like a lot of dwellers of the five boroughs, I spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about real estate, whether griping about too-high rents for tiny apartments or the erection of another steel-heavy skyscraper in my neighborhood. Walking underneath scaffolding, zigzagging through hastily constructed passageways and watching the work of those awe-inspiring cranes brings to mind other salient points about the making of buildings: construction delays, unfortunate accidents and financial mismanagement. And all of those ingredients seem a natural for mysteries and thrillers.
Indeed, the inner workings of real estate deals provide juicy plot points for many a crime novel, but somehow writers seem to shy away from making this business their primary focus — or readers don't gravitate toward this particular professional subject...[b]u another entry into the miniscule "real estate noir" category, however, might stand the best chance of opening up this wonderfully byzantine world to a larger audience, largely because the author frames this world in the context of other career paths well-familiar to the crime fiction reader: lawyers, journalists, and cops."
Read on for the rest, and what other books should I have mentioned that deal with this very New York-centric topic?