I like Walter Mosely books, especially those set in Los Angeles. I grew up traversing the neighborhoods he uses as settings. Between the schools I attended and the truckyard where my grandfather worked, Mosely's characters spend their time wandering the streets and alleys I walked. The familiarity of these settings and the time add to bringing the time, place and people to life.
Sometimes I wonder if that is the attraction to place my writing in the past. It's familiar, and hopefully, somewhat familiar to my readers. Deliberate Acts takes place in and just after World War II. It involves the landscape of California, Arizona, Mexico and one exotic location: the island of Guam. I like to include tidbits that may not be featured in your typical history book; like the outrage some people felt over U.S. citizens being rounded-up simply because their parents were from Japan and the enormous financial losses they suffered, not to mention the less tangibles, like dignity and respect. Or the wonderful service to our country by dogs who aided in the war on both fronts, saving lives and running messages.
Perhaps when we read a story that includes everyday history, it helps us get that nostalgic feeling for the 'good-ole days'.