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Set in Denver, two local novelists are bringing the detective genre to a higher elevation. Illustration by Lindsey Spinks.

New Detective Tales Highlight the Mile High City

The set-in-Denver stories make many a reference to some of our favorite destinations.

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Ever since the first trouble-seeking dame stepped onto the pages of Raymond Chandler’s novels in the 1930s and ’40s, Los Angeles has been the epicenter of noir. But two local novelists recently took on the task of weaving Denver into their ever-twisting plot lines. JoAnn Chaney’s first book, What You Don’t Know (Flatiron Books, February 2017), chases a serial killer through the Mile High City, while Manuel Ramos’ My Bad: A Mile High Noir (Arte Publico Press, September 2016) details the search for smugglers’ missing loot. If you can read between the murders, the books serve as interesting guides to Denver.

Drink With an Inappropriate View

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In What You Don’t Know, Denver police detective Paul Hoskins buys his morning cup of joe (and suffers a bit of a breakdown) at a spot on Colfax Avenue that employs “women—girls, really—and they work their shifts in bikinis. Sometimes lingerie.” Which sounds an awful lot like Hot Chick A Latte, an East Colfax drive-thru coffeeshop where the waitresses serve coffee in bikinis…and sometimes lingerie.

The Author-ity on Authentic Aats

Ramos name-drops a number of delicious north Denver dining spots, including iconic 38th Avenue restaurant Chubby’s, where one of the characters in My Bad orders a burrito after a long night of partying, and Tacos Jalisco. The latter’s traditional Mexican breakfast of eggs, chile, beans, fried potatoes, and tortillas helps console investigators after they uncover a corpse.

Staycation

What You Don’t Know’s Gloria Seever spends her honeymoon at the Brown Palace Hotel despite thinking the 124-year-old landmark sounds “awful fuddy-duddy.” But the place turns out to be lovely—unlike Gloria’s new husband, a serial killer who stores bodies in their house. No matter how many cadavers the police pull out of their crawl space, though, Gloria and Jacky Seever always have that night in the Roosevelt Suite.

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Get Fit Like a Felon

Fresh out of jail, My Bad private investigator Gus Corral lifts weights, hits the elliptical, and takes a few laps in the pool at the Berkeley neighborhood’s
William Scheitler Recreation Center “to sweat, to feel the strain and pain, to blank out my mind and focus on my body.” Good advice. Here’s more via Gus: Five laps around the adjoining Berkeley Lake equals five miles and provides an epic view of the Rockies.

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