"Michael Krikorian introduces Michael Lyons, a Sinatra-loving, hard-drinkingLos Angeles Times reporter, in his debut novel, Southside. Lyons is fearless when it comes to interacting with gangbangers. That is until he's on his way to meet with King Funeral, leader of the Hoover Criminals, one of LA's deadliest gangs. Only two blocks from City Hall a middle-aged black man steps from a car, a purple Grape Street Crips rag on his head, shotgun in hand. He shoots Lyons in broad daylight, wounding him. Within minutes the newsroom is taking bets on who shot him. He's made enemies over the years, mostly members of the street gangs he writes about, but also the husbands of women he's taken a fancy to. When the LAPD doesn't appear to be putting a lot of effort into finding Lyons' assailant, the Los Angeles Times publishes a scathing editorial. Then an audio tape surfaces of Lyons arranging his own shooting with King Funeral. His cred is gone. Embarrassed, the LA Times fires him. In order to vindicate himself-he and Funeral were only joking around, he protests-Lyons scours Southside Los Angeles to discover who shot him and why. When three seemingly unrelated killings take place, Lyons begins putting the pieces together and finds the common denominator-a shot caller named Big Evil, a prisoner at California's maximum security prison Pelican Bay.
This is a nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty story of what really goes down on the gang-ridden streets of Southside Los Angeles. Krikorian's voice is authentic. Born in LA, he's not only written gang pieces for the Los Angeles TimesandNew York Times, but has lived in gang neighborhoods. He readily admits the well-plottedSouthside is heavily autobiographical with him in the Michael Lyons role, and that many of the other characters are people he knows; he writes letters and sends books to many old acquaintances who are incarcerated. Through his gang characters-Big Evil, Terminal, Poison Rat, and Lil Mayhem among others-Krikorian brings the mean streets to life; and through their parents, he shows the grief of being incapable of saving children from the war on the streets. Southside is powerful, aside from an overabundance of minor characters, and is the first in a series of four, centering on Los Angeles. The next novel, already in the works, is Westside, to be followed by Northside andEastside."