Los Angeles was Philip Marlowe's beat. He roamed the streets from the canyons to the flatlands, never surprised to find a con man, a hit man--or a corpse. Even the Southern California sunshine turned sinister under Marlowe's cynical eye.
Almost 50 years after novelist Raymond Chandler created the flinty fictional detective, Molly Maguire and Aaron Silverman decided to investigate his turf. They began by driving around on weekends, looking for sites like the home of the shady nightclub proprietor in "The High Window."
Their hobby soon turned into a commercial venture: The Raymond Chandler Mystery Map of Los Angeles ($4.95), illustrated by Los Angeles artist Alice Klarke in the style of '40s pulp detective magazines and books.
The map makers began with a list of 175 locations and ended up with 96. "For some of the places on our list, the clues in the text were not enough to lead us to them, but others were very clear," said Maguire, whose license plate reads LA MOLL. "We wanted to do more than just scatter events around on a landscape. We wanted to put a time frame around the locations and to lead the reader from place to place."
The novels are listed chronologically, and each location is indexed according to novel. Sites are identified with both fictional and real names, and a special symbol marks the spots where dead bodies were found in the books.
"My favorite place on the map is a bar in South Central L.A. called Florian's, which figures in 'Farewell, My Lovely,' " said Maguire, director of marketing and public relations for Antioch University. "Chandler's description matches it detail for detail, right down to the tile on the facade. The neighborhood hasn't changed a bit."
The Chandler map, available in many Los Angeles bookstores, is the first in a series of literary maps planned by Maguire and Silverman and Aaron Blake Publishers. Due July 1 is the Ernest Hemingway Adventure Map of the World and maps of Jane Austen's England and John Steinbeck's America, based largely on "Travels With Charley."