Owen McKenna used to be a cop in San Francisco. His position was Homicide Inspector. A tragic event (revealed in Tahoe Blowup) made him give up the profession (and guns) and move to Lake Tahoe to start over. Owen started his practice as a private dectective working out of a rented office space on Kingsbury Grade on the South Shore.
Owen lives with Spot, his Harlequin Great Dane, in a tiny log cabin (500 square feet) that sits 1000 feet above the East Shore. Lake Tahoe straddles the California/Nevada border so that Owen lives on the Nevada side and looks across at the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. He has pretty much the hands-down winner for world's greatest view.
The view from Owen's deck
The view from Street's condo
After moving to Tahoe, Owen met Street Casey, a striking, too-thin woman who earns her living as a forensic entomologist. (Street's unusual name comes from her birth. Her mother couldn't make it to the hospital in time for the delivery, so she was born in the street.)
Owen and Street are very close to each other. In fact, Owen would like to establish a live-in relationship with Street. But Street keeps her distance. It's not that she doesn't love him, but that the horrors of her childhood taught her that she could depend on no one but herself. To minimize the pain of potentially losing a close relationship, Street doesn't want to get too close to anyone, even Owen.
Street periodically helps Owen with his cases. When a body is found, Street takes samples of insect evidence. By studying the species and their development, Street can determine the time the victim died and other aspects of the death.
Among Owen's good friends, he is closest to Diamond Martinez, a sergeant with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. Diamond is a Mexican immigrant who is exceptionally bright. He often ruminates on big subjects like philosophy or the rule of law or the nature of friendship. Diamond is also a vocabulary wizard, having fun with English words (his second language) that many Americans don't know.
Owen is also pals with Glenda Gorman, a reporter for the Tahoe Herald, and Mallory, a commander in the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
While Owen's friends are important to him, he doesn't spend a lot of time hanging out with buddies. Like most fictional detectives, Owen is something of a loner, happy to be alone hiking, cooking or having a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale out on his deck enjoying the world's greatest view.
Cave Rock on the East
As readers of the Owen McKenna mysteries often notice, Owen periodically eats at area restaurants, one of the most famous of which is the Red Hut breakfast restaurants. There are three of them. The original Red Hut is on the California side of the South Shore. The restaurant is red, natch, and looks something like a large mountain hut. The Nevada Red Hut is on Kingsbury Grade near Owen's office. And the newest Red Hut is in the middle of town where Ski Run Blvd meets the main drag, Lake Tahoe Blvd. NOTE: The Red Hut at Ski Run is where you can get an Owen's Omelette.
In one of the books, Owen goes into the Red Hut, and the waitress says something like, "You want the usual, right? Owen's Omelette?"
Well it turns out that one of Owen's fans went into the Red Hut and wanted to order an Owen's Omelette! So guess what? The Red Hut now serves OWEN'S OMELETTES!
You can now order an Owen's Omelette at the Red Hut at Ski Run! (If the chef of the day needs help remembering the ingredients, here they are: Eggs, Cheddar Cheese, Fresh-Cut Tomatoes, Killer Salsa, and a dollop of sour cream on top.)
Your humble author reports that Owen's Omelette hits the spot!
So who's the person who first asked to order an Owen's Omelette? I got an email revealing the details of the event that only the actual suspect would know! The answer is: Virginia Boyar, the Director of Career & Technical Education at the Lake Tahoe Community College!
Next time I eat an Owen's Omelette, I'm going to toast Virginia's good taste!
P.S. It's been a few years since I ordered an "Owen's Omelette," so I'm not sure if it is still available.
|To the left is Mt. Tallac, the tallest
mountain directly on the shore of Tahoe. Tallac is known for its famous
snow cross. But in this picture there is too much snow to see it. The
cross will become visible in the spring when the surrounding snow melts.
Beneath its east face is Fallen Leaf Lake, named for the Washoe legend
of the young man who, when chased by the devil, threw magic leaves
behind him. Each leaf turned into a lake, which slowed his pursuer.
Several Hollywood movies have been filmed on Fallen Leaf Lake including
the Keven Costner/Whitney Houston thriller The Bodyguard.
When you get an idea, it's time to pull over and make some quick notes.
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