In DEADLY SOLUTION, my protagonist, Maeve Malloy, is an attorney in private practice in Anchorage, Alaska. Her office is on the second floor of an older building just a block down from the courthouse. I imagine it to be in the corner office facing us just over the Trustees for Alaska sign.
At one point in my career, I had an office in that building. In DEADLY SOLUTION, the first floor was vacant. Nowadays, it houses Snow City Café — a trendy breakfast/lunch place with excellent coffee. It is so popular that Obama stopped in to pick up some pastries for his secret service guys: Obama visits Snow City Café. So if you ever come to Anchorage, you too can buy pastries, or even a sandwich, in the same café that served the secret service. And, by the way, it has the best coffee in the neighborhood.
There are actually two courthouses on Fourth Avenue standing side by side. The “old” Boney Courthouse takes up half a block with a lovely garden and walkway in front of it. I say “old” because when I started practicing, the Boney Courthouse was the new courthouse. We thought it was quite flashy: it had elevators!
The old courthouse was the Kalamarides Courthouse which sat where the garden is now. It was demolished because it was so unsafe in the event of an earthquake, some judges refused to go in it.
On the next block is the new, new courthouse, the Nesbett Courthouse. Tourists love to take their photos with the totem poles. By the way, the totem poles depict the Tlingit lovebirds, Eagle and Raven. This is the courthouse described in DEADLY SOLUTION. The hallways on each floor run the length of the south side of the building overlooking Anchorage and the Chugach mountain range, and there are stained glass embellishments in the windows of each floor. It is quite a pleasant place to hang out, if you have to be at court. If you’re visiting, you can go inside and look around.
If Maeve turned left when she left her office building instead of turning right to go to court, she could walk around the corner to visit a statue of Captain Cook staring nobly towards the direction of Hawaii, where he visited after leaving Alaska, and where he was murdered by the locals. In Alaska, we prefer our tourists to go home happy and tell everyone about their wonderful adventure. So, just tuck that into your hat next time you go on vacation. Hawaii or Alaska?
Up the street from late, great Captain Cook and around the corner is the Oscar Anderson house, an adorable little — I mean little — craftsman built in 1915. It is one of the oldest houses standing. Tours are given in the summer: Oscar Anderson house.
True story: I was on the elevator at Left Coast Crime in Reno, Nevada, a few months ago wearing my lanyard that identified me as coming from Anchorage, Alaska, when a man asked, “You’re from Anchorage?”
“Yup”, I said.
“Know the Oscar Anderson house?”
“I used to live there.” And then the elevator stopped and he strode off into crowd before I could think of something to say.
So, former resident of Oscar Anderson house, if you’re reading this, your house is still there, it’s being landscaped even as I write this and it’s just as adorable as ever.
And for the rest of you tourists, if you come up by boat, you’ll probably stay in the Captain Cook hotel directly across the street from the Boney Courthouse and a block away from Snow City Café (remember: best coffee downtown) and Maeve Malloy’s fictional office. Hope to see you in your travels!