Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Raymond Chandler/James Ellroy/Dashiell Hammett Tours

Coming to California this summer? Live here and want to retrace the mean streets and haunts of your favorite hardboiled writers? There are two Raymond Chandler Tours in Los Angeles and the Dashiell Hammett Tour in San Francisco. And, there's an occasional James Ellroy's L.A. Haunts tour.

Richard Schave, owner and tour guide, is the brains behind the Raymond Chandler tours that his company, Esotouric, offers. As he writes on his website, "when you climb aboard for an Esotouric bus adventure, you're guaranteed an intelligent, unpredictable ride into the secret heart of the city we love. These tours are recommended for natives, tourists and anyone who likes to dig a little deeper and discover the world beyond the everyday." So I guess that would be just about anyone reading Mystery Fanfare.

Esotouric offers two Raymond Chandler tours that divide at La Cienega Blvd. into East and West Los Angeles. In A Lonely Place, focuses on downtown and Hollywood, settings and scenes from Chandler's life and novels to his work in motion pictures that sent him in a tail spin from which he would never recover. The Bay City tour takes a look at his middle novels (Farewell My Lovely, Lady In the Lake) and short stories including "Bay City Blues" and how the Westside shaped both his fiction and life. Schave says that "these tours are complementary. Each exists independently, and do not presuppose a knowledge of the other, but taken as a whole they provide a deep and rich portrait of a giant in American Letters and early contributor to the myth which we have all come to know as Los Angeles."

And, as if that isn't enough. Esotouric also has an occasional tour with Crime novelist and memoirist James Ellroy. The James Ellroy Digs L.A. tour is a very personal journey into the 'psycho-geography' of the region that made him, and that informs such best selling books as "L.A. Confidential," "The Black Dahlia" and "My Dark Places." These tours are very popular and sell out upon listing. If you want to be on the next one, subscribe to the Esotouric mailing list.

San Francisco, home to Dashiell Hammett, is the site of Don Herron's famous Dashiell Hammett Walking tours. Be sure and wear sturdy, comfortable shoes as Don Herron, noted Dashiell Hammett specialist, leads you along the mean streets of San Francisco. You'll travel over fog-shrouded hills stalked by Sam Spade, the Continental Op and other hardboiled characters created by Dashiell Hammett who lived and wrote in San Francisco. You'll shadow Sam Spade in his quest for the fabulous figurine of a mysterious black bird, prowl the back alleys where the Continental Op, Hammett's longest-running detective, faced down the opposition over the barrel of his blazing .38. You'll also see the spot where Spade's partner, Miles Archer, with a smile on his mug and his pistol buttoned away under his overcoat, met swift death in the night-fog.

2009 SCHEDULE: SUNDAYS in the month of September. Extra Walks, Book Signings, Hammett-related activities may be found under Special Dates. No reservations taken. Just show up. Hammett tours may be given by appointment as well, e-mail for arrangements.

No Hammett tours when you're in San Francisco? Grab a copy of The Dashiell Hammett Tour Book for a self-guided tour.

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