L.A. Writers: Tyler Dilts

An Up-and-Coming Police Procedural Mystery Writer

An Up-and-Coming Police Procedural Mystery Writer

Actually Tyler Dilts is more of a Long Beach writer than an L.A. writer. I find that exciting because he writes about an interesting locale about which most people know very little. There have been writers about Beverly Hills and Hollywood before, but both places are way too enshrouded in their own myths. Long Beach is the 36th largest city in the United States, and the 7th largest in the State of California. It is an interesting city in its own right, and it is large and diverse enough to sustain a series of crime novels set within its borders.

To date, there are four novels in the Long Beach homicide series:

  • A King of Infinite Space (2009)
  • The Pain Scale (2012)
  • A Cold and Broken Hallelujah (2014)
  • Come Twilight (2016)

All four feature Long Beach Homicide Detective Danny Beckett and his partner, Jennifer Tanaka. Beckett. In the first novel, Tyler’s wife dies in a car crash on Intersate-5. In the second book, Danny is sidelined with pain in his hand to his shoulder for an entire year, but he manages to go on.

A Cold and Broken Hallelujah was the first Dilts I had read, in Cusco, Peru, of all places. It is about the murder of a homeless man. In an interview with Craig Lancaster, Dilts describes his novel thus:

At the opening of the new novel, Danny’s come to terms with much of what was haunting him in the first two books, but a murder he investigates—a homeless man who is burned to death by a group of teenagers—tests his resolve, especially in mourning his late wife, who also died by burning. Danny’s the kind of detective who carries the weight of the past with him. It’s a quality that is certainly not healthy for him, but it keeps him connected to the victims of the crimes he investigates and allows him to maintain a sense of empathy. He knows that it is his greatest strength as a detective, so he can’t bring himself to let go, even though he’d be healthier and happier if he did.

As for the fourth book, I am reading that now.

The latest Novel by Dilts

The latest Novel by Dilts

What I like about the Danny Beckett novels is the empathy he feels for the characters with whom he comes into contact. He himself lives a life of occasionally disabling physical pain. Yet he works well with his colleagues in the LBPD and with both witnesses and even suspects. While there is no romance as such between Beckett and his partner Jennifer Tanaka, there is a closeness and mutual consideration that could potentially develop into one.

Tyler Dilts is the son of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detective. In the Craig Lancaster interview, he continues:

My father was Sheriff’s Deputy for Los Angeles County. He worked in quite a few different capacities—in the county jails, on patrol, as a trainer at the academy, and as a detective. I think I realized that I wouldn’t follow in his footsteps sometime in high school. But I didn’t know what path I would take until I got to college and discovered theatre. I got my BA in Acting and Directing and spent several years working in theatre in LA. I’m a big guy and found myself getting typecast, so a good friend, after hearing me complaining about the fourth time I played Lennie in Of Mice and Men, suggested that I start writing my own plays. That led me back to grad school, this time in English Lit and Creative Writing. In a way, writing about Danny Beckett feels like coming full circle and returning to that desire to follow in my father’s footsteps.

Dilts is still early in his writing career. I look forward to following it with great interest.



L.A. and L.B.

Looking Across the Harbor at the Queen Mary

Looking Across the Harbor at the Queen Mary

At least a couple times a year, Martine and I like to spend a day in Long Beach. We park the car in the Aquarium parking structure and walk on the path surrounding the yacht harbor and along the ocean, halfway to Belmont Shores. Usually, it’s in conjunction with a visit to the Aquarium, but I prefer to go there early before all the strollers armed with ankle-killing spikes show up. Today, we just enjoyed the sunshine and the nice weather.

I always like to see the Queen Mary across the harbor, always remembering that in 1937 it brought my mother back to the United States by way of Cherbourg, France, and Southampton, England. Fortunately, I was able to take her to see the ship docked in Long Beach Harbor, where she was able to tour the luxury cabins which, as a steerage passenger, she and her grandparents never had a chance to see on their passage.

The beach city has been interesting me more and more since I started reading the Long Beach Homicide detective novels by Tyler Dilts, namely A King of Infinite Space and A Long and Broken Hallelujah. (That leaves only The Pain Scale before I’ve read his entire opus.) As I wrote in his review of A King of Infinite Space:

It’s good to think that noir has a future in Southern California, where it was born under the skillful pens of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Tyler Dilts teaches writing at Cal State Long Beach. He comes to the genre with an extensive background and a rich frame of reference. In addition, he has such a good ear for the Long Beach area that I feel like dropping in at some of the restaurants he mentions and checking them out.

Long Beach has some nice areas; it also has some heinous slums. But then, I guess that goes for Los Angeles as well.