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Mystery Novelists to Kick Off Citywide Reads

Michael Connelly and Robert Crais, best-selling authors of crime fiction, will visit Santa Monica Feb. 25 to kick off the 2012 Citywide Reads featuring Raymond Chandler's 'The Lady in the Lake.'

American authors Michael Connelly and Robert Crais will kick off the 10th Annual Citywide Reads featuring noir novelist Raymond Chandler's The Lady in the Lake.

Connelly and Crais will discuss the influence Chandler has had on their work and the mystery genre in general Feb. 25 at the Auditorium, at 1501 California Ave.

All Citywide Reads events are free and open to the public. The invites the community to read and discuss The Lady in the Lake in discussions and special events held throughout the city Feb. 22 to March 31. 

First published in 1943 by Alfred A. Knopf, The Lady in the Lake was Raymond Chandler’s fourth full-length novel and once again featured wisecracking, hard-as-nails private detective Phillip Marlowe. 

As with the detective’s previous adventures, the story begins with Marlowe being hired for what would seem to be a fairly standard missing-persons case: the disappearance of a Los Angeles doctor’s wife, presumably with her younger lover. The mystery quickly gets more tangled and complex as Marlowe follows the woman’s trail and finds a series of dead bodies and crooked characters along the way.

To mark Citywide Reads’ 10th anniversary, the program is also expanding to include a featured novel for kids, Trouble Is My Beeswax by Bruce Hale. Aimed at readers aged 7-10, Hale’s kid-friendly noir mystery features Chet Gecko, a wise-cracking, reptilian, fourth-grade private detective, who is hired to investigate a cheating ring at his elementary school.

Sponsored by the Santa Monica Public Library, with support by the Friends of the Santa Monica Public Library and other community, educational and business partners, Citywide Reads 2012 will feature a slate of special events and discussions. 

All programs are free to the public, and seating is first come, first served.  This year’s program includes: 

  • An Evening with Michael Connelly & Robert Crais: Best-selling modern mystery authors Michael Connelly and Robert Crais discuss the influence of Raymond Chandler on their work and the mystery genre. 7 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Auditorium, 1501 California Ave.
  • A Touch of Naomi: Mystery author Naomi Hirahara takes participnts on a tour of noir, accompanied by the torchy songs and sax of Doc & Renee.  6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the , 415 Pacific Coast Hwy.
  • Los Angeles Noir Now: Denise Hamilton, editor of Los Angeles Noir, leads a discussion on the noir genre of today with authors Christopher Rice, Jim Pascoe, Gary Phillips and Naomi Hirahara. 7 p.m. March 6 at the , 601 Santa Monica Blvd.
  • Bay City and Beyond: A look back at the history of Santa Monica and Los Angeles in the noir period with authors Ernest Marquez (Noir Afloat), David Kipen (Los Angeles in the 1930s) and Alain Silver (Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles), as well as Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives Librarian Cynni Murphy.  2 p.m. March 10 at the Main Library.
  • Raymond Chandler’s Sense of Place: Santa Monica & The West Side: Judith Freeman presents an illustrated, virtual tour of Santa Monica places associated with Raymond Chandler and his novels.  7 p.m. March 12at the Annenberg Beach House.
  • The Lady in the Lake Live: Authors Reading Raymond Chandler: Judith Freeman, Janet Fitch and Denise Hamilton lead a star-studded list of authors in a staged, costumed reading of The Lady in the Lake. Audience costumes encouraged. 7 p.m. March 16 at the , 1210 Fourth St.
  • The Masters of Los Angeles Noir: Author Denise Hamilton discusses noir pioneers Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross Macdonald with their respective biographers Judith Freeman, Julie Rivett and Tom Nolan.  7 p.m. March at the Main Library.
  • Staged Reading of “The Pencil”: A staged reading of Raymond Chandler’s last Phillip Marlowe short story, The Pencil, produced by the Ruskin Group Theatre. 3 p.m. March 24 at the Main Library.
  • Raymond Chandler Movie Screenings; Double Indemnity 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Main Library; The Big Sleep 2 p.m. March 3 the ; Strangers on a Train 7 p.m. March 13 at the ; Murder My Sweet 2 p.m. March 19 at the Montana Branch; Lady in the Lake 6:30 p.m. March 22 at the Main Library; The Long Goodbye 2 p.m. March 25 at the Main Library.
  • Citywide Reads Kids: An Afternoon with Bruce Hale: The creative author behind Trouble Is My Beeswax, this year’s Citywide Reads Kids featured novel, presents a fun program on how he writes and draws the hilarious adventures of his reptilian private eye, Chet Gecko. 3:45 p.m. March 28 at the Main Library.
  • Citywide Reads Kids: Chet Gecko Detective School – After reading Trouble is My Beeswax, attend "detective school" to learn how to be a super sleuth. For ages 7-10:
    • Wed., March 21 at 3:45 pm (Main Library)
    • Mon., March 26 at 3:45 pm (Fairview Branch)
    • Tue., March 27 at 3:45 pm (Montana Branch)
    • Thu., March 29 at 3:45 pm (Ocean Park Branch)

The following venues are scheduled for trained, volunteer facilitator-led book discussions: 

  • 4 p.m. Feb. 28 a t Panera Bread, 501 Wilshire Blvd.
  • 7 p.m. March 1 at the Ocean Park Branch Library.
  • 7 p.m. March 7 at the Fairview Branch Library.
  • 1:30 p.m. March 12 at the , 1527 Fourth St.
  • 7 p.m. March 15 at , 1201 Third Street Promenade.
  • 11 a.m. March 17 at , 1741 Ocean Park Boulevard.
  • 7 p.m. March 21, 2012 at the Montana Branch Library.
  • 11 a.m. March 31 at the Main Library.

For more information on this year’s slate of Santa Monica Citywide Reads discussion and special events, visit smpl.org/Raymond_Chandler.aspx or contact the Santa Monica Public Library at (310) 458-8600.

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