California is not a place well-known to me. I once went to San Francisco in August and took only summer clothes. From the daze of my hypothermia I remember burritos in  Berkeley, mopeds downtown, and worrying that the wind on the Golden Gate Bridge would blow my glasses right off my nose.

Right now I am reading April Smith’s North of Montana, set in LA. There is a real feel for place, which is 50% of the reason for reading any mystery. Today I came across a list of books chosen by author Lisa See that illuminate different aspects of the Californian geo-character. Except for the James Ellroy, I’d never heard of any of them before, and now want to read all of them. That’s a darn good book list.

Also check out See’s books, if you haven’t already. I really enjoyed her ‘Red Princess’ mysteries, featuring Lui Hulan, an agent for China’s Ministry of Public Security. I’ve been a bit disappointed with her swerve into book club territory with Snow Flower & the Secret Fan and Peony in Love, but admit to having an ARC of Shanghai Girls on my to-read pile right now.

I wanted to include a See’s slideshow of ‘Shanghai Girls’ here as a bonus, but making that work is giving me more grief than I feel I deserve on a Friday afternoon, so if you’re interested, you’re going to have to mosey over to Flickr all by yourself.