9 Books Set in Pasadena

by Jessica on February 23, 2018

By Kelly

Pasadena is our home, and we love it! And writers seem to love it too, with the city making appearances in multiple novels! Here are 9 books set in our wonderful town of Pasadena.

Books Set in Pasadena1. The High Window by Raymond Chandler

A wealthy Pasadena widow with a mean streak, a missing daughter-in-law with a past, and a gold coin worth a small fortune—the elements don’t quite add up until Marlowe discovers evidence of murder, rape, blackmail, and the worst kind of human exploitation.

Books Set in Pasadena2. Summer Of The Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara

In the foothills of Pasadena, Mas Arai is just another Japanese American gardener, his lawnmower blades clean and sharp, his truck carefully tuned. But while Mas keeps lawns neatly trimmed, his own life has gone to seed. His wife is dead. And his livelihood is falling into the hands of the men he once hired by the day. For Mas, a life of sin is catching up to him. And now bachi—the spirit of retribution—is knocking on his door.

It begins when a stranger comes around, asking questions about a nurseryman who once lived in Hiroshima, a man known as Joji Haneda. By the end of the summer, Joji will be dead and Mas’s own life will be in danger. For while Mas was building a life on the edge of the American dream, he has kept powerful secrets: about three friends long ago, about two lives entwined, and about what really happened when the bomb fell on Hiroshima in August 1945.

Books Set In Pasadena3. Colorado Boulevard (A CRUSH NOVEL) By Phoef Sutton

When K.C. Zerbe, the honorary brother (and roommate) of LA’s toughest bodyguard/bouncer, Crush, is kidnapped, Crush springs into action. Unraveling the mystery takes him to Zerbe’s estranged billionaire father, who’s obsessed with building California’s long-promised bullet train, as well as to Pasadena’s famed Rose Parade along Colorado Boulevard. Along the way Crush has to revisit a traumatic event from his teenage years that’s come back to haunt him. (This is the third book in the much-praised Crush series full of action, suspense, humor, and mystery).

Books Set in Pasadena4. Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith

Bad things happen everywhere. Even in the land of sun and roses.
When Jude’s best friend is found dead in a swimming pool, her family calls it an accident. Her friends call it suicide. But Jude calls it what it is: murder. And someone has to pay. Now everyone is a suspect—family and friends alike. And Jude is digging up the past like bones from a shallow grave. Anything to get closer to the truth. But that’s the thing about secrets. Once they start turning up, nothing is sacred. And Jude’s got a few skeletons of her own. In a homage to the great noir stories of Los Angeles, award-winning author Sherri L. Smith’s Pasadena is a tale of love, damage and salvation set against the backdrop of California’s City of Roses.

Books Set In Pasadena5. The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena (Goosebumps, No 38) by R. L. Stine
(Middle Grade)

Becoming sick of the endless hot weather in their Pasadena home, siblings Jordan and Nicole Blake wish for a real winter and are delighted with an Alaskan family vacation, until they come face-to-face with the Abominable Snowman.

Books Set in Pasadena6. Pasadena: A Novel by David Ebershoff
(Historical Fiction)

From the award-winning author of The Danish Girl and The Rose City, Pasadena tells the story of Linda Stamp, a fishergirl born in 1903 on a coastal onion farm, and the three men who change her life: her jealous brother, Edmund; Bruder, the orphan Linda’s father brings home from World War I; and a Pasadena orange rancher named Willis Poore. The novel spans Linda’s adventurous and romantic life, weaving the tales of her Mexican mother and her German-born father with those of the rural Pacific Coast of her youth and of the small, affluent city, Pasadena, that becomes her home. Pasadena is a novel of passion and history, about a woman and a place in perpetual transformation.

Books Set In Pasadena7. Helen of Pasadena by Lian Dolan

Helen Fairchild is leading a privileged Pasadena existence: married to a pillar of the community; raising a water polo-playing son destined for the most select high school; volunteering her time on the most fashionable committees. It only bothers Helen a tiny bit that she has never quite fit in with the proper Pasadena crowd, never finished that graduate degree in Classics, and never had that second baby. But the rigid rules of society in Pasadena appeal to Helen, the daughter of Oregon fiber artists, even if she’ll never be on the inside.

And then along comes a Rose Parade float, killing her philandering husband and leaving Helen broke, out of her “forever” house, and scrambling to salvage her once-rarefied existence. Enter Patrick O’Neill, excavator of Troy and wearer of nubby sweaters. A job as Dr. O’Neill’s research assistant is the lifeline Helen needs to reinvent herself. Ancient mysteries to solve Charity events to plan School admissions advisors to charm If Helen wasn’t so distracted by her incredibly attractive boss, she might be able to pull off this new life.

Helen’s world widens to include a Hollywood star, a gossip columnist, an old college nemesis, a high-powered Neutron Mom, an unforgiving school headmistress, the best Armenian real estate agent in the biz, and, of course, the intriguing Patrick O’Neill. While uncovering secrets about ancient Troy alongside her archaeologist boss, Helen discovers something much more: a new sense of self and a new love.
With its keen social observations, laugh-out-loud scenes and whip-smart dialogue, Helen of Pasadena delivers humor, insight and wisdom on reinventing yourself.

Books Set in Pasadena8. Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer

Everyone seems to be getting on with their lives except Maggie. At 26, she’s still serving coffee at The Beanery Coffee House, while her friends are getting married, having babies, and having real careers. Even Olivia, Maggie’s best friend from childhood, is getting married to the doctor with whom she lives. Maggie’s roommate? Her dog Solo (his name says it all). The man in Maggie’s life? Well there isn’t one, except the guy she has a crush on, Domenic, who works with her at the coffee shop as a bus boy.Maggie and Olivia have been best friends since they were in grade school. Both fatties, they befriended each other when no one else would. Now grown-up, Maggie is still shopping in the “women’s section” while Olivia went and had gastric-bypass surgery in search of the elusive size 2, the holy grail for girls everywhere. So now Olivia’s thin and blonde and getting married, and Maggie’s the fat bridesmaid. Ain’t life grand? In this wonderful debut novel that is sure to remind readers of Jennifer Weiner’s Good In Bed, Liza Orr is both witty and wise, giving voice to women everywhere who wish for just once that they could forget about their weight. (P.S. Vroman’s even gets a shout out in this one!!)

Books Set in Pasadena9. Literary Pasadena: The Fiction Edition edited by Patricia O’Sullivan

The historic, handsome city in the shadow of Los Angeles has been a creative hotbed since the Arroyo Arts & Crafts scene of the early twentieth century. This literary journal gathers short fiction by such Pasadena-area writers as Michelle Huneven (Blame), Victoria Patterson (This Vacant Paradise), Jervey Tervalon (Understand This), Naomi Hirahara (Snakeskin Shamisen), Lian Dolan (Helen of Pasadena), Ron Koertge (The Arizona Kid), Dianne Emley (the Nan Vining mysteries), and Jim Krusoe (Parsifal).
Produced as a companion to LitFest Pasadena (May 2013), Literary Pasadena: The Fiction Edition is the first in an annual series that will move on to include editions in poetry, essays, humor, and more.