News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by

Susan Orlean: The story behind LA Central Library's arson investigators




The murals in the L.A. Central Library rotunda represent four eras of California history, including discovery, mission building, Americanization and the founding of Los Angeles. Writer Susan Orlean's next book focuses on the mystery surrounding the fire that ravaged the Los Angeles Central Library back in April 29, 1986.
The murals in the L.A. Central Library rotunda represent four eras of California history, including discovery, mission building, Americanization and the founding of Los Angeles. Writer Susan Orlean's next book focuses on the mystery surrounding the fire that ravaged the Los Angeles Central Library back in April 29, 1986.
Todd Johnson/KPCC

Listen to story

10:12
Download this story 4MB

Writer Susan Orlean made a name for herself with books like "The Orchid Thief," "Rin Tin Tin" and "Saturday Night."

Her new book is of a different sort, it's all about a mysterious character who lives in downtown Los Angeles: the Central Library. We’ve been checking in with Orlean from time to time as she researches the fire an arsonist set in the library book stacks in the 1980s.

Host Alex Cohen sits down with her again to talk about the role arson investigators play in the story.