For nearly 20 years, the UC Irvine literary journalism professor worked as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times. And for 15 months, Corwin was granted access by the Los Angeles Police Department to shadow an elite Los Angeles detective unit called Homicide Special.
The national best-selling author, who has written five books, recently released his second crime fiction novel “Midnight Alley,” which explores crime in the city of Los Angeles.
The novel follows detective Ash Levine, also the main character of Corwin’s first fiction novel, “Kind of Blue.”
In “Midnight Alley,” Ash, the top detective in the LAPD’s elite Felony Special Squad is whisked away from a vacation and sent to solve the murder of two young black men, one of whom is the son of a high profile City Councilman who is highly critical of the LAPD.
Ash is flung into a perplexing adventure that involves Los Angeles’ Russian Mafia, looted archaeological treasures from Iraq, and veterans of war who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ash’s intense focus and Jewish upbringing help him close in on the perpetrator, but soon he finds the tables flipped and that he is the one under fire.
The novel’s fast-paced plot is heavily based on Corwin’s own experiences and observations from the time he spent shadowing Homicide Special and working as a crime reporter. Corwin followed the detective unit to crime scenes, interrogations, autopsies, and arrests.
He says that it was getting to see Los Angeles crime so close and personal that inspired his fiction.
“I really felt I had a great advantage in that I was able to be with the detectives as they were investigating these cases, as they were talking to suspects, killers, the Russian mafia, Ukranian prostitutes,” Corwin said. “All this stuff that I was able to witness with the detectives and I was able to then use that to make my fiction more realistic which I thought gave me a real advantage over many crime writers because very few writers have the opportunity to spend time with detectives like I did.”
But Corwin has not always been behind the lines as an observer when it comes to crime, he got mixed up in the highly publicized Robert Blake case when the actor was charged with the murder of his wife.
Corwin tagged along with case investigators to the scene. He later included the events in his non-fiction book, “Homicide Special: A Year With the LAPD’s Elite Detective Unit.”
During Blake’s trial, prosecutors asked the writer to testify after the defense tried to paint him and his portrayal of the case in his book as being biased in favor of the police.
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