L.A. Stories: Book to Film

Updated: August 5, 2023

Books, set in L.A., that were made into films.

Book cover for Devil in a Blue Dress
Devil in a Blue Dress
Mosley, Walter
Call Number: M

Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins is a World War II veteran who falls into detective work after losing his factory job. In the first novel in Mosley's outstanding series, Easy traverses the streets of 1948 Los Angeles in search of a missing Frenchwoman. Other titles in the series (A Red Death, Little Scarlet, Blonde Faith) follow the detective through volatile periods in L.A. history, including the Red Scare, the Watts Riots, and the Vietnam War.

Book cover for Inherent Vice
Inherent Vice
Pynchon, Thomas

Pynchon has created a fast-paced tale with Doc Sportello, private investigator, off on one wild investigation leading into another. Set in the drug-hazed world of southern California in the early seventies, this work is one rollicking story and a vehicle for satirizing the foibles of modern life.

Book cover for L.A. Confidential
L.A. Confidential
Ellroy, James
Call Number: Ed.b
James Ellroy's wild tale of political corruption, police brutality, and tabloid celebrity scandals set in 1950s Los Angeles is not to be missed.

Book cover for Less Than Zero
Less Than Zero
Ellis, Bret Easton
Call Number: Ed.b
Bret Easton Ellis's notorious chronicle of 1980s sleaze and decadence begins with the famous line: "People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles."

Book cover for The Long Goodbye
The Long Goodbye
Chandler, Raymond
Call Number: M Ed.b

Hard-boiled sleuth Philip Marlowe is in trouble with the police after he helps a suspected murderer flee the country, but his troubles don't end there.

The morning after
Lottman, Eileen.

The novel was based on the film, The Morning After, that starred Jane Fonda, Jeff Bridges and Raul Julia. 

Nothing lasts forever
Thorp, Roderick.

Roderick Thorp pits retired police officer Joe Leland against a group of German terrorists who take over the office Christmas party Leland's daughter is attending. Armed with only his gun, Leland takes on the heavily armed criminals one by one.

Book cover of Rope burns : stories from the corner
Rope burns : stories from the corner
Toole, F. X., 1930-2002.
Call Number: Ed.a

The movie Million Dollar Baby was based on the short stories by F. X. Toole, who had been involved in the world of boxing.

Book cover of Rum punch
Rum punch
Leonard, Elmore, 1925-2013.

This novel was the basis for Quinten Tarantino's movie, Jackie Brown.

Book cover for A Single Man
A Single Man
Isherwood, Christopher
Call Number: Ed.b

A single day in the life of George, a college English professor in 1960s Los Angeles, as he copes with the sudden death of his lover. George is wry, witty and, although cynical, ultimately positive as he seeks a way to connect with a life that is trying to leave him behind. 

Book cover of They shoot horses, don't they?
They shoot horses, don't they?
McCoy, Horace, 1897-1955.
Call Number: Ed.c

Set in Santa Monica during the Great Depression, the story follows Robert and Gloria, two actors down on their luck who join a grueling dance marathon for a chance at catching the eye of movie producers.

Book cover of To live and die in L.A.
To live and die in L.A.
Petievich, Gerald.
Call Number: M

The gritty world of master counterfeiting meets law enforcement. 

Book cover of Who censored Roger Rabbit?
Who censored Roger Rabbit?
Wolf, Gary K
Call Number: M Ed.a

The novel became Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, a fantasy-comedy-mystery.

Book cover for Zeroville
Erickson, Steve.

Vikar, obsessed with movies and fleeing his strict Calvinist upbringing in Pennsylvania, arrives in Los Angeles on the day of the Tate-LaBianca murders. With a tattoo of Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun tattooed on his shaved head he wanders through Hollywood of the 1970s and eventually uncovers a dark secret of the movies. David Lynch meets Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.