While the rest of San Diego is dealing with the rages of World War II, Tom Hickey--half owner of a local club--is making money. But when the clubs young singer Cynthia Moon disappears, business drops precipitously. Sometime private detective Hickey sets off looking for the girl, but instead discovers her bizarre and tragic family, including her mother Venus. Can Hickey navigate the half-mad atmosphere of Venus cult, the hard business world, and avoid the mob while still keeping his family and personal life in tact? The Venus Deal is is the second novel is the award-winning Hickey family series.
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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Poisoned Pen Press
May 14, 2007
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