Sunday, April 6, 2014

Free Fall by Robert Crais




I was given this book by a sailing neighbor that enjoys reading LA detective stories. I have been criticized for being to hard on the fact checking and directions given driving around the streets of Los Angeles by noir authors. It seems common in Los Angeles fiction to describe the various routes around Southern California using the various freeway names or numbers. Some locals use the numbers and some use the names and it is hard to keep track of all of them. Elvis Cole uses his watch and often states the exact time he is leaving or arriving. He also given the distance traveled in miles and the scenery along the route and the on and off ramp names. Many authors describe the traffic and all the problems getting around. I was born in Los Angeles and have spent many hours stuck in traffic. Elvis is magical in the fact he never seems to be stuck in traffic and get from one location to another in only minutes.


Page 17, at exactly "six minutes after one" he makes a phone call, put on his Dan Wesson, goes down 4 flights of stairs and eats lunch at the deli. He then drives to Thurman's apartment via Westwood to Northridge, talks to the three women in the front yard, gets the keys and cases the place. When he leaves they ask what took him so long in the apartment if he was only dropping off something. He then drives back south on the 405 takes the Wilshire off ramp and goes west to Santa Monica via Brentwood winding up on San Vicente where he drives two miles to Ocean Ave turns south and goes to Venice and gets to Rusty bar at 26 minutes past two. He does all that in 80 minutes. WOW, pretty cool being to get off the freeway cruise Santa Monica to Venice and do the Valley search too. He mentions the bike riders on San Vicente and the bike path through the park along Ocean all that description is correct.

When Elvis is going through Thurman's apartment he notices his high school football pictures and that he was a "sixty minute" man. California High School football do not play 15 minute quarters they play 12 minute.


Elvis stops to buy bottled water and puts one bottle in his trunk. Elvis drive a Corvette (yellow 66) and trunks were not offered after 1962.



Page 52 Elvis goes to the Los Angeles Examiner to get info from his buddy Eddie. The Examiner went out of business in 1989 after a 10 years strike that broke the paper leaving Los Angeles with the Times as the only major daily. (So maybe he was visiting a ghost writer?)

Page 81, "He was holding a can of Scrapple"


Page 82, "James Edward, did you offer the man a cool drink?" James Edward Edwards said, "You want a Scrapple?"

I always thought of Snapple being a product sold in bottles not cans but they do sell it in cans now. Howard Stern morning radio show is also mentioned in the story and Stern was always promoting Snapple at this time in the timeline. I worked in New Jersey and at Penn State. People there eat scrapple, sometime with breakfast, it is a food not a drink.


Page 203, They tail Eric Dees going north on the San Diego Freeway, leave the freeway at Roscoe heading west toward the Van Nuys Airport. Dees goes into a Tommy's and Elvis and Pike pulled into a Nissan dealers lot across the street. I used to eat at the first Tommy's location and have been to many of the newer ones that are now spread around Southern California. Being picky here: Tommy's Van Nuys is east of the 405 not west and the majority of car dealers are west also. Roscoe is north of Victory where Tommy's is located. (have used the Roscoe off ramp many times)


Page 217, They drive from Lancaster to Glendale in 42 minutes. The trip should take over an hour but Elvis is quick.

Page 239, "We took the four-mile drive down out of Griffith Observatory and stopped at a flower shop in Hollywood" Earlier they had been at the stables in the park where you can rent horses. This remark about going down the hill for four miles seems strange as Hollywood is below the Observatory and is not 4 miles away.


Page 253, after the shootout at the old drive-in theater the police radio is used to call for an ambulance. They are quite a distance from LA dispatch and how is this all possible is kinda sketchy but an ambulance and the local police show up. Several police officer are dead or wounded there is a weapon used for one of the killings covered with Jennifer's finger prints.

Page 266, another trip, this from 7600 Broadway in Los Angeles to Lancaster leaving at exactly "seventeen minutes before two" going to the hospital to check on Mr. Thurman then gets Pike's Jeep and Elvis makes it back to his house "just after four" Another remarkable fast trip done in about two hours.

Page 259, "Twenty-two minutes later a couple of California Highway Patrol cops in khaki uniforms came in to the waiting room." The LAPD and DA's office use the CHP to pick up Elvis and Pike? I would have thought the LA County Sheriff or LAPD would be the ones to bring them in not state officers.

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