Day Keene was one of those paperback writers who cranked out one novel after another in the 1950s. In all he wrote some fifty books, most of which were crime stories and paperback originals. I don't know (and don't know an easy way to find out) how many were set in California. Framed in Guilt was his first novel.
Framed in Guilt by Day Keene. M. S. Mill/William Morrow (1949), 218 pp.
A woman, newly arrived from England, arranges to meet with a famous screenwriter to discuss his secret marriage to one of her friends during the early days of World War II. They take a night-time drive in the hills. She attempts blackmail; he responds by killing her. But when the police begin an investigation, he claims to remember nothing of the night. The evidence points to his guilt, but some friends hand him a convincing alibi. Did he actually commit the murder? Or is he somehow being framed for the crime?
This is an okay mystery story. The writing is clear. The plot twists come regularly. But Keene's use of an omniscient third-person narrator, while allowing different views of the investigation, weakens interest in the protagonist. And the character, who strings along his actress girlfriend and is prone to violent outbursts, is not particularly sympathetic. Further, the title of the novel gives away what ought to be a lingering question, and the story's resolution is more than a bit far-fetched. Mystery fans might enjoy the book, but they will probably not want to spend much effort trying to find a copy.