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Set a few months before the events in Kuhlken's previous novel, The Loud Adios, this book finds Tom Hickey still a civilian, still, if somewhat precariously, married, and part owner of a nightclub in wartime San Diego. The war is World War II, and Hickey is making money, due to the phenomenal appeal of the club's very young female singer, Cynthia Moon. Hickey's partner, Paul Castillo, has his mysterious sources for such rare wartime luxuries as creamery butter and Maine lobster, but it is Cynthia who draws the crowds.
Except now Cynthia Moon has disappeared. Business drops precipitously and sometime private detective Hickey sets off on a search for her. She is elusive, but Hickey encounters her bizarre and tragic family. Her father, a pathetic adventurer destroyed by his wife, is dying in a nursing home. Venus, Cynthia's mother, has joined an ostensible Indian guru, Master Pravinshandra, to lead an ominous cult whose benign surface covers suspicion of rape and murder.
While Hickey finds, loses, and once more finds Cynthia, his own life is falling apart. His partner is probably cheating him, his wife is slipping away from him, his beloved teenage daughter is being pulled along with her.
Kuhlken magically evokes the times, the half-mad atmosphere of Venus's cult, and the hard reality of a business where it's not possible to stay clear of the mob. And over all is The War - the war that is transforming all their lives.
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Ken Kuhlken's first novel, MIDHEAVEN, was honored as a finalist for PEN's Ernest Hemingway Award for best first-published fiction book of the year. His second novel, THE LOUD ADIOS, the first of a series that begins in the 1940s, won the St. Martin's/ Private Eye Wrtiters of America Best First Novel award. The next two books in the series are THE VENUS DEAL and THE ANGEL GANG, both from St. Martin's.
His shorter fiction has appeared in ESQUIRE and a dozen literary magazines, and gathered awards including a National Endowment of the Arts Literature Fellowship.
Since earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction from the University of Iowa in 1978, Ken has taught creative writing and literature at colleges and universities.From Publishers Weekly:
Beautiful prose and a hopelessly convoluted plot distinguish this prequel to Kuhlken's well-received The Loud Adios of 1991. It's winter of wartime 1942 and San Diego nightclub owner and sleuth Tom Hickey is trailing his missing headliner, the enchanting chanteuse Cynthia Moon. After taking her diary and a drawing of three tattooed figures from her rented room, he locates her embittered father dying in a nursing home and then heads into the Sierra Nevada mountains. There, in a period piece of Twin Peaks -style lunacy, he finds a cult, including Cynthia's acquisitive mother, Venus, living in the Otherworld with the Master, the Bitch, Laurel, and assorted other flawed acolytes, all intending to harm the missing girl, who is on a mission of her own. Hickey's personal odyssey is a subplot that works much better. His lot, embracing a semi-criminal PI partner, pushy wife and daughter poised at the edge of full-fledged Lolitadom, could turn anyone to crime or even to a religion that preaches the superiority of little men in lonely hillside caves and the value of money. Though it is sometimes chaotic, this intriguing novel will have readers looking eagerly for the projected third volume.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description St Martins Pr, 1993. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX031208918X
Book Description St Martins Pr, 1993. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P11031208918X