Tuesday, August 05, 2014

A Lost Father’s Long, Cold Trail

Inspired by Ken Kuhlken’s essay for The Rap Sheet about his brand-new novel, The Good Know Nothing (Poisoned Pen Press), I decided to make that same rollicking historical mystery--the seventh and last installment in Kuhlken’s Tom Hickey California Crime series--the focus of my Kirkus Reviews column this week. As I write,
Ever since [his first series entry] The Loud Adios saw print, and won the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel contest, Kuhlken has been jumping around through the 20th century, penning sequels and prequels both. (“If I’d planned [to compose a series],” he told an interviewer not long ago, “I might’ve started from the beginning, rather than write them in no particular order. What happened was, once I got immersed in the drama of Tom’s life, stories just kept coming.”) The plot of his last book, 2010’s The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles (see how mendacity has become a durable theme with this guy?), took place in 1926 and found him probing the lynching of an old friend. The events rolled out in The Good Know Nothing occur a decade later, in 1936, at a time when the Great Depression still has a stranglehold on the United States, and Hickey has moved up from struggling musician to LA cop. His future is not assured, however, since his candor and resistance to corrupting influences have led him afoul of his LAPD superiors. What happens in this new yarn is likely to get Hickey kicked off the force altogether, and maybe imprisoned to boot.
You will find the complete column here.

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