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Staff Picks - California Calling (Fiction)

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All titles are shelved in the fiction section alphabetically by the author's last name unless otherwise noted.

One of Those Malibu Nights        
by Elizabeth Adler                     
Intervening on behalf of a distraught woman who is holding a gun in the doorway of a luxurious Malibu beach house, private investigator Mac Reilly finds himself in possession of the gun and searching for the woman when she subsequently goes missing.

Daughter of Fortune
by Isabel Allende
Raised in the British colony of Valparaiso, Chile, after being abandoned as a baby, a pregnant Eliza follows her lover, Joaquin Andieta, to California at the height of the Gold Rush and finds adventure and adversity on her road to independence and love.

Point Dume                           
by Katie Arnoldi                         
A novel about the death of surf culture, human trafficking, the Mexican drug cartel, illegal pot farms, environmental devastation, & obsessive love.

The Teleportation Accident                    
by Ned Beauman                             
Stage designer Egon Loeser leaves Weimar Republic Berlin to pursue a disinterested woman and arrives in L.A., where a Caltech physicist is developing a teleportation device.     

The Mothers
By Brit Bennett
In a contemporary black L.A. community, 17-year-old Nadia Turner mourns the suicide of her mother, leading her to take up with the local's pastor's son; but when she gets pregnant, the pregnancy and the subsequent cover-up will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth.

The Harder They Come
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
A Vietnam veteran, his schizophrenic son and the son's older lover endure an anti-authoritarian confrontation marked by the son's violent breakdown and flight through California.

The Tortilla Curtain                
by T. Coraghessan Boyle                 
The lives of two different couples--wealthy L.A. liberals Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher, and Candido and America Rincon, a pair of Mexican illegals--suddenly collide.

When the Killing’s Done                      
by T. Coraghessan Boyle                     
Traces an incrementally violent confrontation between a National Park Service biologist who would eradicate invasive wildlife on the Channel Islands and two locals who are fiercely opposed to the killing of any creatures.

by Albert Brooks     
June 12, 2030 started out like any other day until a massive earthquake devastated L.A., and the government, teetering on bankruptcy, was unable to respond.

by Jan Burke                           
LAPD homicide detective Alex Hartwick tackles a case in which all the victims in a series of murders are on the FBI's Most Wanted list.

A Doubter’s Almanac
By Ethan Canin
A controversial mathematician pursues hedonist vices in 1970's university environments while coming to terms with the mysteries of his father's outsized life and his own personal legacy.

The Life She Wants
by Robyn Carr
Shattered by her husband's financial crimes and subsequent suicide, Emma is entreated by the friend who betrayed her years earlier to return home, where an uneasy reunion and the burden of her husband's crimes challenge her efforts to rebuild.

Dead Soon Enough (MYSTERY)
By Steph Cha
After being hired to monitor Lusig, a surrogate for       Armenian American doctors, investigator Juniper Song becomes involved in the dangerous conflicts within the L. A. Armenian American community when Lusig's cousin, a political activist, goes missing.  

At the Edge of the Orchard
by Tracy Chevalier
Settling in the swamps of early-19th century Ohio, the Goodenough family establishes an apple orchard that begins a long family battle, and years later, as their youngest son wanders through Gold Rush California, his family's past makes an unexpected appearance.

Sonoma Rose                       
by Jennifer Chiaverini 
Struggling on a Prohibition-era farm in Southern California and devastated by the losses of four of her children to a wasting disease, Rosa flees with her surviving children after a shattering act of violence.

Guilt by Association   
by Marcia Clark         
L.A. D.A. Rachel Knight is grief-stricken over her colleague’s murder. She takes over his toughest case and finds her life at stake as she digs deeper into his death.

Moral Defense
by Marcia Clark
For defense attorney Samantha Brinkman, it’s not about guilt or innocence—it’s about making sure her clients walk. But the case of Cassie Sonnenberg touches a raw nerve in Sam that makes it painfully personal.

The Girls
by Emma Cline
Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. Mesmerized by a band of girls in the park she perceives as enjoying a life of free and careless abandon, teen Evie Boyd becomes obsessed with gaining acceptance into their circle, only to find herself drawn into a cult and seduced by its charismatic leader.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye (MYSTERY)
By Michael Connelly
California's newest private investigator, Harry Bosch, searches for a reclusive billionaire's possible heir, a case with odd links to his own past, and volunteers to find a serial rapist for a small police department.  

by Robert Crais         
A former LAPD hostage negotiator takes a job as chief of police in a small town, but his peaceful life is overturned when three young men take a family hostage.

Roadside Crosses   
by Jeffery Deaver      
When a troubled teenager is pushed over the edge by cyber-bullies, he plots a violent revenge throughout the Monterey peninsula.

One Amazing Thing                             
by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni                   
When nine disparate characters are trapped together after an earthquake, each of them takes a turn telling "one amazing thing" about his or her life.

Queen of Dreams                            
by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni                 
Rakhi, a young artist and divorced mother living in Berkeley, California, finds herself caught between the turmoil of life in America in the wake of September 11th and the India of her mother.

House of Sand and Fog
by Andre Dubus
When a former colonel of the Iranian Air Force and his family purchase a small California home at auction, they are faced with a great conflict as the former owner and her police officer boyfriend fight to get it back at any cost.

A Visit from the Goon Squad
by Jennifer Egan
Working for a record label, former punk rocker Bennie Salazar and the passionate Sasha hide illicit secrets from one another while interacting with a motley assortment of equally troubled people from 1970s San Francisco to the post-war future.

Imperial Bedrooms                     
by Bret Easton Ellis
A follow-up to "Less Than Zero" continues the stories of the teenage characters at midlife, finding successful screenwriter Clay returning to Los Angeles to cast a new movie and reunite with former girlfriend Blair, recovering addict Julian, and notorious dealer Rip.

City of Echoes (MYSTERY)
By Robert Ellis
Investigating a particularly violent case on his first night working homicide in Los Angeles, detective Matt Jones and his hot-tempered partner discover links to a ritualized murder from 18 months earlier and evidence of high-level corruption.         

The Lost Witness      
by Robert Ellis          
Punished by her superiors following the explosive end to her previous case, L. A. Detective Lena Gamble realizes that she has been set up for another fall.

L. A. Noir          
by James Ellroy     
Three detective novels including Blood on the Moon, Because the Night, and Suicide Hill.

Night Shadows        
by Ron Ely         
Jake Sands retires from his danger-filled life after his family is murdered, but he discovers a body while jogging, leading to more corpses and deadly confrontations in Santa Barbara.

The Road to Cardinal Valley                
by Earlene Fowler                           
Hoping to help her deceased husband's alcoholic brother make a fresh start, Ruby returns to Cardinal, California where she must confront her estranged mother and a terrible secret.     

The Jane Austen Book Club 
by Karen Joy Fowler
As six Californians get together to form a book club to discuss the novels of Jane Austen, their lives are turned upside down by troubled marriages, illicit affairs, changing relationships, and love, in a comedy of contemporary manners.

Sister Noon                         
by Karen Joy Fowler 
A (MYSTERY) set during San Francisco's Gilded Age chronicles Lizzie Hayes's rebellious odyssey away from the pretensions of the city's social elite.

The Nightmare Thief    
by Meg Gardiner   
Given an expensive "ultimate urban reality" adventure for her 21st birthday, Autumn invites 5 friends to join her in a simulated drug deal and manhunt on the streets of San Francisco only to be exploited by real kidnappers.

Virtual Light (SCIENCE FICTION)                             
by William Gibson
In 2005, in two Californias divided along seismic fault lines of power and wealth, ex-cop Berry Rydell is assigned to track people down through a maze of Virtual Reality.           

The Neighbors Are Watching  
by Debra Ginsberg
Set against the deadly 2007 wildfires that forced the evacuation of half-a-million San Diego residents, the novel examines the dark side of suburbia- a place where everyone has something to hide.

Wish Come True                                   
by Eileen Goudge 
Anna Vincenzi, who has been in the shadow of her movie-star sister, remakes herself into the ultimate sexy woman and is declared a prime suspect in her sister's murder, a situation that prompts the valley residents to rally together.

The Confessions of Max Tivoli
by Andrew Sean Greer
Born as an old man, Max Tivoli lives his life aging backwards, falling in love and living an odd, sometimes terrifying life in San Francisco at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Parents Behaving Badly                      
by Scott Gummer 
After Ben and Jill Holden return to their hometown of Palace Valley with their children, Ben finds himself being drawn into the intense world of his sons' Little League season.

Trail of Echoes (MYSTERY)
By Rachel Howzell Hall
A homicide detective in Los Angeles investigates a suspected serial killer that is targeting young, artistically talented teenage girls.         

Call it a Gift                                       
by Valerie Hobbs   
Jeronimo Smith, 77, is having a bad day, and needs the poems of William Butler Yeats to get him through it. But the book has just been checked out of the Santa Barbara Library. When he accosts the widow who has the book, he meets the woman who will become the love of his life.

They’re Watching                               
by Gregg Hurwitz 
Struggling with setbacks in his marriage and Hollywood ambitions, Patrick Davis begins receiving mysterious DVDs that reveal that he and his wife are being stalked.

Pay It Forward                               
by Catherine Ryan Hyde 
Trevor McKinney, a 12-year-old boy in a small CA town who accepts the challenge that his teacher gives his class, a chance to earn extra credit by coming up with a plan to change the world for the better - and to put that plan into action.

by Pico Iyer
Obsessed with the teachings of Sufism, John Macmillan, a student studying in California, follows the trail of some ancient Islamic manuscripts on a search that brings him to an encounter with the enigmatic Camilla Jensen.

Be Frank with Me
by Julia Claiborne Johnson
Reluctantly hired into the home of a famed reclusive writer who would recapture her lost fortunes by completing a new manuscript, Alice Whitley becomes obsessed with identifying the paternity of her employer's precocious young son.

Dying for a Taste (MYSTERY)
by Leslie Karst
When her Aunt Letta is found murdered in her Santa Cruz restaurant, ex-attorney Sally Solari steps in to keep the place running, but when her sous chef is accused of the crime, Sally is determined to clear his name and find the real murderer.   

Heartbreak Hotel (MYSTERY)
by Jonathan Kellerman
Psychologist Alex Delaware and Detective Milo Sturgis investigate the murder of woman who led a long life full of dark secrets.  

The Dim Sum of All Things
by Kim Wong Keltner
A modern young American woman living in San Francisco, Lindsey Owyang has little in common with her Chinese heritage, until an event forces her to reexamine her history and the need to meld the old culture with the new.

Ashley Bell
by Dean Koontz
Experiencing a miraculous recovery two days after being told she's dying, Bibi becomes obsessed with the idea that she has been spared in order to save someone else, a notion that prompts her entry into the world of crime and conspiracy.

by Dean Koontz 
Psychopathic serial killers play a harrowing game of cat and mouse with a reclusive Napa County bartender and former writer.

Gods Without Men                                
by Hari Kunzru     
Shattered when their autistic son disappears during a family vacation to the California desert, Jaz and Lisa Matharu organize searches near the Pinnacles rock formation and bond with eccentric locals.

You Don’t Love Me Yet                             
by Jonathan Lethem
An employee at The Complaint Line who listens to anonymous callers air their random grievances, Lucinda Hoekke falls in love with one of her frequent callers.

Best of My Love
by Susan Mallery
A heartbroken baker and a charming but womanizing tour guide embark on an experiment to prove their respective gender's quality and trustworthiness while regaining self-respect, only to become the subject of gossip in their small hometown.

by Steve Martin
Working as a salesgirl at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus, Mirabelle, a beautiful aspiring artist, embarks on a love affair with Ray Porter, a wealthy, lonely businessman she meets at the store.

Against a Brightening Sky (MYSTERY)
By Jaime Lee Moyer
Delia Martin, apprentice practitioner of magical arts in 1919 San Francisco is visited by the ghost of a European princess who helps her uncover the secrets of a young woman with amnesia and her connection to a ruthless killer.     

The Body Snatchers Affair (MYSTERY)
By Marcia Muller
Conducting a dual investigation in the opium dens of Chinatown, Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon search for missing millionaires against a backdrop of a brewing Tong war.      

by Erik O’Dowd                           
On the central coast of California during World War II, a Japanese submarine attacks California's fuel supply. Equal parts historical novel, courtroom thriller and murder (MYSTERY)– the book is at its heart a quest for redemption by a guilt-tormented man whose deepest yearning is for inner peace.

When the Emperor Was Divine              
by Julie Otsuka 
A story told from five different points of view, chronicles the experiences of Japanese Americans caught up in the nightmare of the World War II internment camps.

How to Make an American Quilt
by Whitney Otto
The various passages in a woman's life are revealed through their emotions, struggles, tragedies and triumphs, and life stories of a group of women who are members of a quilting circle in a small California town.

Crazy Blood
by T. Jefferson Parker
Two half-brothers from a powerful Mammoth Lake skiing dynasty whose births were marked by violence and betrayal play out their fierce rivalry on one of the world's most perilous ski slopes while the women in their lives scheme to destroy and protect them.

by Ann Patchett
A five-decade saga tracing the impact of an act of infidelity on the parents and children of two Southern California families traces their shared summers in Virginia and the disillusionment that shapes their lasting bond.

by Rex Pickett                                     
As best friends Miles and Jack leave Los Angeles for Santa Ynez wine country in preparation for Jack's impending nuptials, they embark on a raucous, weeklong road trip that allows the two to contemplate their life choices.

The Crying of Lot 49                            
by Thomas Pynchon                             
After learning that she is the executor of her ex-lover's will, Oedipa Maas starts a strange journey through Southern California in the 1960s.

Catalina Eddy (MYSTERY)
by Daniel Pyne
The renowned Hollywood screenwriter behind such productions as The Manchurian Candidate presents an anthology of three interconnected novellas about crime and corruption in Southern California's underworld.      

The Edge of the Earth                             
by Christina Schwartz                               
In 1898, a woman forsakes the comfort of home and family for a love that takes her to a remote lighthouse on the wild coast of California.

The Mirror Thief
by Martin Seay
Three schemers hatch plans to outwit others and steal secrets in interconnected stories that are set in three Venices--in Italy, California, and the casino in Las Vegas-- during different eras.

Fault Lines                                 
by Anne Rivers Siddons                           
Approaching exhaustion after years of caring for her family, Merrit Fowler joins her daughter and sister in California, and an earthquake brings them closer together.

by Scott Sigler                                   
Experiencing vivid dreams about serial murders taking place in San Francisco, detective Bryan Clauser fears he is losing his sanity and discovers a link between the victims and a young boy who is gripped by the same nightmares.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore       
by Robin Sloan                             
After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret.

The Forgetting Tree                            
by Tatjana Soli                               
Abandoning the world of her literary education to move to her husband's California citrus ranch, Claire Nagy forges an all-consuming bond with her family's land that eventually supersedes her relationships with her husband and children.

In America                                    
by Susan Sontag                                 
Poland's greatest living actress goes to a utopian community in the wilds of 1876 CA, where she will struggle to maintain love, hope, and idealism in the harsh reality of the American West.

By Danielle Steel
Struggling to achieve an independent life when her stale marriage abruptly ends, Stephanie Adams embarks on an impulsive road trip and discovers herself in the course of a whirlwind relationship with a famous country music star.

The Grapes of Wrath   
by John Steinbeck 
Depicts the hardships and suffering enduring by the Joads as they journey from Oklahoma to California during the Depression.  

Between Here and Heaven
by Susan Straight
When Glorette Picard is found dead, those who knew her struggle to come to terms and discover the killer, all the while finding out how intertwined her life and death was with the dark history of her city, Rio Seco, California.

Thrill Kill (MYSTERY)
By Brian Thiem
When a prostitute is murdered, Matt Sinclair and his partner, Cathy Braddock, soon discover that many of her clients will go to any length to keep the police from digging too deep into her past and they must find the truth before her killer unleashes a major attack on a scale Oakland has never seen before.  

The Barbarian Nurseries  
by Hector Tobar 
After the husband and wife that she works for disappear, live-in maid Araceli takes their two boys on a journey through sprawling Los Angeles to locate their grandfather.

Gold Fame Citrus
by Clare Vaye Watkins
In the wake of a devastating Southern California drought, two idealistic holdouts fall in love and scavenge for their needs before taking charge of a mysterious child and embarking on a perilous journey in search of water.

Flaming Tree           
by Phyllis Whitney  
Seeking inner peace in the tranquility of Carmel, California, after a tragedy, Kelsey Stewart finds renewal in her work with a brain-injured boy  whose speechlessness hides a terrible secret.