Saturday, October 29, 2016

The authors who write our favorite books do a lot of research to make them accurate. 

They go to amazing places and see some incredible things.

Ready to learn some fun facts and hear some interesting tales?

Author Connie di Marco / Archer

I’ve been super busy for some time now, writing two different series – the Soup Lover’s Mysteries set in Snowflake, Vermont and the Zodiac Mysteries set in San Francisco.  So far, I’ve been neglectful of my home city – Los Angeles -- ground zero for noir and police procedurals. 

Driving around the city I often see tour buses, the double decker on-off kind, and the smaller vans that stalk Beverly Hills and the homes of the rich and famous.  I never see them in my neighborhood, undoubtedly because I am not rich and famous!  That’s fine with me.  I enjoy my privacy.  But I’d be willing to bet those tourist buses don’t ever visit one of the city’s most interesting spots – the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.  This office was originally founded in 1882 and is now housed in a gorgeous old building at 1104 North Mission Road.  I’m very grateful no developer has been able to tear it down, not yet anyway! 

Twenty thousand cases are investigated there annually to determine the identity and cause and manner of death.  Who goes there?  Anyone who dies in L.A. County of trauma or what may be unnatural causes.  And some who die of natural causes, including those who die at work or in custody and those whose identity is unknown.  Upon arrival, a full body photo is taken, the remains are weighed, measured and undressed.  Fingerprints are taken.  Clothing is wrapped in brown paper and secured.  The remains are placed in refrigerated storage pending examination.  The identity of the person and cause of death must be confirmed, including homicides, deaths at work or in custody and police shootings.  Of the approximately 300 unidentified cases every year, 20 to 30 are never identified.  And at any given time, there might be 300 to 400 plus bodies awaiting exams at the Coroner’s Office. 

Here are a few tips for writers:  Relatives never make an identification by viewing the body.  A photo is used.  Shriveled-up fingers are only found on TV.  In reality, they can be rehydrated to obtain prints to match to a body.  You know how the same pathologist always appears in every crime drama?  Not in reality.  In real life in LA, approximately 24 pathologists use 14 stations in three autopsy rooms. 

But just in case you think I’m waxing morbid, here’s the fun part.  Inside that remarkable building is a gift shop.  It’s called Skeletons in the Closet and you’ll see it when you enter the lobby.  The only caveat is that you must speak quietly and respect those who are visiting for a not so happy reason. 

The gift shop offers lots of intriguing items -- Sherlock water bottles, skeleton key chains, jackets, mugs, T-shirts, lunch coolers, crime scene towels, DVD’s and stickers, car shades, and holiday stockings -- to name just a few things.  There’s even a DVD series available for purchase called North Mission Road:  “If LA is a city of illusions, those illusions end at 1104 North Mission Road.”

I haven’t seen these episodes but I’m very tempted to order them. Check these out: 
Episode 3:  “Fitting the Mold - A young woman is found dead, but a strange mark on her body holds the secret to the crime.”

Episode 8:  “Christmas Surprise – a piece of Christmas cheese is the key to solving the murder of a suburban woman.” 
These sound better than episodes of Forensic Files, don’t they? 

If you don’t live in LA, but do manage a trip here, make sure you ask the tour bus to take you to Skeletons in the Closet [] at 1104 North Mission Road, Los Angeles 90033 so you can shop to your heart’s content.  I guarantee it’ll be much more interesting than Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills

And if you’re curious, check out the LA County Dept of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s website at

I don't know about you, but I want to check it out!

Thank you to Connie, for sharing this fun information with us!

Connie Archer is the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover's Mystery series set in Snowflake, Vermont -- A Spoonful of Murder, A Broth of Betrayal, A Roux of Revenge, Ladle to the Grave and A Clue in the Stew. You can find excerpts from the Soup Lover's Mystery series and Connie's recipes in The Cozy Cookbook from Penguin Random House and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie was born and raised in New England and loves writing about Vermont. Today she can be found on the other coast inventing soup recipes and designing plots. You can visit her website and blog at and sign up for her newsletter. You can find her on Facebook at and Twitter @SnowflakeVT.

Writing as Connie di Marco, she also writes the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink. The first book in the series, The Madness of Mercury was released on June 8, 2016. You can visit her at, and Twitter @askzodia.

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  1. Thanks, Lisa and Connie. Interesting info. Happy Saturday, to you.

    1. Hi Patricia - Thanks for stopping by today! And thank you Lisa for hosting me today!

  2. Good morning, Lisa and Connie! Leave it to you, Connie, to come up with the most fascinating information ;-). I think a trip down to Skeletons in the Closet might be in order! We always take our out-of-town visitors to the local tourist stops up here in the Bay Area, and one year we took our niece on bus tours "down south" to Chinatown, Muscle Beach and The O.C. I would have liked to go to the morgue ha ha. Happy Halloween!

  3. Hi Sally - how nice to hear from you! Stick to the gift shop, it's safer that way. And my favorite Cinatown is definitely in San Francisco! I'll have to have Julia solve a mystery there soon!

  4. What a cool interview. I find stuff like this so interesting. That may be from the fact that I've watched every episode of CSI too!! LOL!!

    1. Hi Angie - CSI could probably do some research there at the LA Coroner's Office. Glad you could stop by!

  5. Wow that was so interesting! Fascinating too! I must read your books!

    1. Hi Donamae - thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed this! You can visit my characters in Vermont or San Francisco. I really hope you get to enjoy both worlds soon!

  6. That was fun! I really like the Soup Lovers series, it has been fun visiting Vermont. I will have to check out the Zodiak series. I have been to San Fran a couple of times. Have you been to the Stinkin' Rose? It is a fun restaurant. Skeletons in the Closet sounds like a fun store.

    1. Hi Elaine - Great to see you here at Lisa's blog! Yes, I have been there. That restaurant's right on Columbus, around the corner from the (fictional) Mystic Eye book shop, where Julia hangs out sometimes. She grew up in North Beach and she's there quite often. I hope you get to visit her world soon!