Richard Fausset on the Morning after Robert Blake's Wife Was Killed

Richard Fausset near Mexico City, Mexico   

An old but telling anecdote about the novelist Michael Krikorian: On the morning of May 5, 2001, I was cold-calling police stations from the old LAT Valley newsroom when some random desk jockey at LAPD North Hollywood--trying for cop-cool but coming off half-hysterical--mentions that Robert Blake's wife had been shot to death in her car around the corner from Vitello's Restaurant in Studio City. I had to let Google remind me who Robert Blake was: "Baretta" had been off the air for nearly a quarter century. Oh shit: *that* Robert Blake. 

I flew to the crime scene, all cub reporter elbows and knees, tongue hanging from mouth, and soon joined in the LA sunshine by a thousand vultures and buzzards and hacks and hyenas in Clarks comfort shoes who smelled a classic hunk of bloody LA noir: the scrupulous and unscrupulous were there, the NY Times and the National Enquirer, local cop-shop dorks with coffee stains on Arrow shirts, nearsighted police-scanner junkies, and, this time, hordes of well-moussed national TV hacks, salivating as they imagined the animated graphic and the whoosh and the theme music that would soon accompany this particular loss of human life, the weeks of whodunnit Hollywood scandal coverage that would allow their viewers a break from the complicated and depressing reality of places like Afghanistan, and characters like Mullah Mohammad Omar, whose followers had just dynamited the Bamiyan Buddhas: in retrospect, our generation's Bad Moon Rising. 

So anyway, anyway... eventually Krikorian gets there, fire-red eyeballs hanging out of his head and looking like he'd gone to sleep in his blazer. I worked, and as I worked, I watched Krikorian work, dancing from place to place, recreating the scene, imagining motive, footsteps, angles, collecting scraps of dialog from witnesses and neighbors. And I distinctly recall--as the scrum of reporters reached peak mayhem, as the deadline clock ticked, as assistant city editors, following orders from editors from other tax brackets, jangled our cell phones every 25 seconds for scraps of updates-- I remember how Krikorian randomly picks out this floral-print dress from a rack outside of a curio shop on Tujunga Blvd. and holds it in front of a pretty blonde. "You know, you'd look fantastic in this," he says, with that charming, napalm-strafed wreck of a voice. The blonde looks back, pauses for a second, and decides, after brief internal deliberation, to smile generously. Because he was right: The dress would have looked great on her. He noticed that it matched her eyes.

So that, for me, is the genius of Michael Krikorian: elegance amid the ugliness, an eye for beauty and detail, love and blood, sunshine and death. And now he has a crime novel out that's been well-reviewed and blurbed by the likes of Michael Connelly. I'm looking forward to reading it. You can order it on Amazon:

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