CATALINA EDDY, Daniel Pyne’s new crime novel, centers on the consequence that various unrelated crimes have on the detectives who seek to make sense of them.
Named for the southern Californian weather pattern that causes “June Gloom”, Catalina Eddy is told in three parts: one in Los Angeles in 1954, one in Sand Diego in 1987, and the third in Long Beach in 2016. While these three stories are connected through loosely related characters, they are, more importantly, linked by compelling storytelling, and by laughter, love, and honor.
Pyne, currently a showrunner on the Amazon Studios series police drama BOSCH, is the author of three novels: Fifty Mice, Twentynine Palms, and A Hole in the Ground Owned by a Liar, and has written for numerous films and television shows. Among Pyne’s film credits are the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, Pacific Heights, Any Given Sunday and Fracture while his numerous television credits include Miami Vice, and J.J. Abrams Alcatraz.
I recently spoke with Daniel Pyne about the ways writing for screen and page influence each other.
The novel opens with Rylan Lovely, a WW II Vet turned private detective, standing on a Los Angeles street watching the H-bomb test on Bikini Atoll through a window of a TV shop. Lovely and the reader are told that the H-bomb is 1000 times more powerful than the A-bomb, to which Lovely responds “Which is, what, supposed to be comforting?” The stories move forward and out from under the cloud of doom and evolve from a crime noir to a modern story that ends with overcoming catastrophe.
“My colleague Micheal Connelly on Bosch has this saying. The detective doesn’t work the case, the case works the detective. It’s life. Life works you. It’s about the characters, not the details of the case.”
Pyne said that he took what he learned from film and TV and bring them back to novels to the way stories are told. And in fact, Catalina Eddy is a very visual novel. It reads as if Pyne is writing and directing with great attention paid to the sensory details surrounding the characters. The pages are filled with vivid descriptions of the sights and sounds and smells of the southern California coast.
“In one sense,” Pyne said, “Catalina Eddy is a night of television. It’s three episodes. Three different things. Except they’re linked. Except that they have this weird bleed across the three episodes. I always wanted to program a night of television where shows would bleed across one another. So you’d have three different shows but characters from each show would suddenly show up in the next one.”
He is particularly interested, since returning Bosch, in the cycles of crime that do not change. While the technique of crimes change, and the people and the technology change, the crimes don’t change. Pyne is fascinated by that and he linked those crimes to the weather, “because the more we try to make sense of the weather in SoCal, the less we can. Both crime and weather have been going on forever. So, I didn’t want to connect the stories to a crime that spans three decades. I wanted to show crimes, like the weather, are part of the SoCal history.”
He added that at this point in his career, he is drawn to the time that he can take with novels. He enjoys the way stories are told in a novel as compared to film and TV. ”Film and television are very direct,” he said. “At best they are impressionistic. Novels you can do all of that and more.”
“I am interested in three things,” Pyne added that bridge all of the things I’ve ever done. Characters who try to make sense of a world that doesn’t make sense. Love stories. And stories about identity, that is, stories that ask, ‘Who am I?’ That existential question.”
All stories are detective stories. They’re about mysteries that need to be unwrapped. Unwrapping Catalina Eddy is pure fun.
Elan Barnehama is at work on a new novel, NO SMALL WONDER, set in New York City against a background of the late 1960’s, and narrated by Zach who is looking for a revolution and instead finds friends. More at elanbarnehama.com