Thursday, 6 April 2017

San Francisco


Because Hawaii is so far away from Cheshire, I wanted to break up the long journey home. And where better to do so than a city I've long wanted to discover, San Francisco? The city by the bay did more than live up to expectations. It's now my favourite American city. I may not quite have left my heart there, but I found it quite enthralling.


It's a city with strong crime fiction associations. Laurie R. King lives there, and she gave me a few tips about places to visit. I was fascinated by my first glimpse of Alcatraz, scene of some notable movies. I suppose, though, that I associate San Francisco most closely with two films. First, Bullitt, the private eye film legendary for its car chase. And second, Vertigo, one of the best crime films ever made; I've seen it four or five times. And of course the full list of famous films set there is lengthy.


I'm often teased for my unashamedly touristy devotion to hop-on, hop-off buses, but I'm unrepentant: they make a very good way to get one's bearings in an unfamiliar place, and my first aim was to do just that. After riding around the city, the next step was to explore Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39 (I hadn't expected to see large numbers of sea lions right next to it) and take a ride on one of the famous cable cars, which I loved. Then there was a night bus tour, a chance to see both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge lit up against the night sky. All very memorable.



Next came a trip to Sausalito, an appealing little town with a Riviera-like atmosphere. From there we took the ferry across the bay, past the Golden Gate Bridge, past Alcatraz and back to the ferry terminal. And in the terminal building, while having a snack, I spotted a bookshop called Book Passage. Unable to resist, I had a look inside and to my amazement found two of the anthologies I've edited for the British Library. Quite a treat.

 Further exploration followed - the "Crookedest Street", which is unlike anything I've ever seen - Chinatown, Japantown, and the Painted Ladies (the latter a group of houses on Alamo Square). My plan now is to read some more crime fiction set in San Francisco. I'm familiar with Laurie's books - any other recommendations?.





10 comments:

Kate said...

Sounds like a brilliant trip! You've probably already read them, but the two San Francisco set crime novels which immediately come to mind are Lenore Glen Offord's My True Love Lies (1947) and John Mersereau's Murder Loves Company (1940).

Art Scott said...

Might as well start at the top, with The Maltese Falcon, and Hammett's Continental Op stories. For contemporary authors, Bill Pronzini's "Nameless" series. For a sleeper crime film, check out Don Siegel's The Lineup, a b&w tour of San Francisco in 1958.

Graham Powell said...

May I suggest the "Nameless P.I." books of Bill Pronzini? He's been writing about San Francisco for decades, and his investigator is not some superhuman fighting machine, just persistent and intelligent.

Evelyn Hill said...

Dare I suggest... the Maltese Falcon? :)

Anonymous said...

Alcatraz has an important part in the other great San Francisco crime film, 'Point Blank'.

Martin Edwards said...

Kate, thanks. I don't actually know those books, so glad to have my attention drawn to them

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Art. I like Siegel's work but don't know that film. Will check it out

Martin Edwards said...

Anon, you are quite right to remind me. A terrific film.

Martin Edwards said...

Graham thanks. I've not read much Pronzini, but I love Gun in Cheek and its sequel.

Martin Edwards said...

Evelyn, you certainly dare! Thanks.