L.A. SLEEPERS Locations: Mulholland Drive

L.A. SLEEPERS Locations: Mulholland Drive
by Dakota Donovan


The above photo gives a feeling of what it’s like to drive on L.A.’s Mulholland Drive, but no photo can really do it justice. For a driving tour of the infamous road, check out this video.

Built in 1924, Mulholland Drive is a  two-lane road along the ridge of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills that offers spectacular views of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. The 21-mile roadway is home to some of the most exclusive and expensive homes in the world.

In my novel, L.A. SLEEPERS: A Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery, I need to get from Bel Air to Hollywood in a hurry and, against my better judgment, hop onto Mulholland Drive. An excerpt from Chapter 15 tells part of the story.

Abridged excerpt from Chapter 15 of L.A. SLEEPERS: A Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery by Dakota Donovan

I start to think about what Pauline had told me. Yes, this is the perfect opportunity to experience the scenic, albeit treacherous, Mulholland Drive. And what kind of life am I living if I just go through the motions, taking the long way around and letting my fears dictate my actions? Besides, I have a good reason to take Mulholland Drive—I can reach Hollywood in thirty minutes and arrive early for my appointment with Ryan.

I make a left into a driveway and turn around. After a minute, I’m sailing down Mulholland Drive—and the road is as beautiful and scenic as everyone has told me. It’s the ideal time of day for the drive, traveling east in the late afternoon with the sun behind me—the deep canyon to my left and the mountain wall on my right, the San Fernando Valley in the distance, the city shimmering in the smog.

But I can’t really enjoy the sights. I have to keep my eyes on the two-lane road—and with my challenged depth perception, I need to give this my full attention.

I take a deep breath, telling myself the winding road isn’t dangerous or daunting after all. But maybe that’s because I’m driving below the speed limit. After just a few minutes, people are honking, urging me to go faster. The cars are relentless, honking and honking and honking, so I try to speed up, but when I do, it feels as if the car has risen off the road and is floating above the asphalt.

Before me is a twisting curve, the canyon flickering with fog and highlighted with afternoon glints of sun that make it seem like the gate of hell.

My heart isn’t beating anymore. It’s on a pogo stick, leaping up and down and from side to side. I’ve never felt so terrified—and pray, now out loud, to get through this.

More honking and blaring horns, and when I look in the rearview mirror see a black SUV  right up on my bumper. The road is clear on the other side. Why doesn’t the driver just pass me? The vehicle moves even closer, right up on me, as if getting ready to push me off the road.

I remember what Ryan told me—that someone had hired him to follow me, and he’s tailed me since the previous Friday, when I’d first visited Milton Kingman about the ghostwriting job.

Is someone following me now? Or is this just the way everybody operates vehicles on Mulholland Drive?

I drive for what seems like forever on the twisting, turning, two-lane Mulholland Drive—with the black SUV on my tail the whole way. I’m scared and shaking, and believe that only prayer and promises to be a better, kinder, more understanding person are keeping me from flying over the edge and tumbling into the canyons that border the road on the left or crashing into the mountainside on the right.

End of excerpt

Find L.A. SLEEPERS: A Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery at Amazon.com

PHOTO: In this 1982 photo, headlights streak around Carl’s Curve on Mulholland Drive, a spot named after a racer who went down the embankment 15 times. In the background are the lights of the San Fernando Valley. (From the book Imagining Los Angeles: Photographs of a 20th Century City, published by Los Angeles Times, 2000.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: