Dark Passages: Real Estate Noir

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?