Books by Greg Kihn

Released: June 1, 2003

"A shaky idea turns out wonderfully well."
Novelist/rock musician/West Coast disc-jockey Kihn (Big Rock Beat, 1996, etc.) assembles an anthology of short fiction by fellow rockers. Read full book review >
MOJO HAND by Greg Kihn
Released: Nov. 4, 1999

California disc-jockey (and former rock star) Kihn brings back Beau Young of the Stone Savages from Big Rock Beat (1998) The author's recipe is simple: take Nan and Ivan Lyons' deliciously droll mystery, Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe (1976); replace cooks with black American bluesmen. Vincent Shives, an albino guitarist as yet unfledged by playing in public, goes to New Orleans, where an ancient black zombie woman for $5,000 sells him the Mojo Hand, a mummified, severed human appendage that seems not quite dead. Beau has dropped rock ‘n' roll to recover from a coke habit and play the blues with legendary harpist Oakland Slim. Suddenly Slim's buddies among the giants—Red Tunney, Art Spivey, and B. Bobby Bost—are being murdered, opened up like cans of tomato soup by some sort of claw. Yes, it's the Mojo Hand, which climbs out of its shoebox while Vincent is sleeping and goes off to murder his rivals. Divorced Beau falls in with Annie Sweeney, owner/writer of Bluesworthy magazine, and begins his own investigation of the murders, drawing on his new friendship with a fan who happens to be an assistant medical examiner in San Francisco. Meanwhile, a man claiming to be long-dead blues colossus Robert Johnson, who sold his soul to the devil 43 years ago, tries to establish his legal right to royalties from recordings of his music by the Crawling Kingsnakes and their big-lipped leader Rick Dagger (yes, the Stones and Mick). Since that group happens to be recording demos in Sausalito, why not have "Robert Johnson" prove his identity by playing with their lead guitarist, Heath Pritchard (Keith who?), who knows Robert Johnson's every note? If he does prove out, what will Vincent and the Mojo Hand have to say about this new zombie on the block? No question, blues players and fans will dig these chords, which reverb with Kihn's now familiar shimmer. Read full book review >
BIG ROCK BEAT by Greg Kihn
Released: Oct. 20, 1998

The sequel to Kihn's 1996 debut novel, Horror Show, a satirical romp based on the film Ed Wood, which was followed by his Banshee novel Shade of Pale (1997). The hero of Horror Show was schlockmeister Landis Woodley (Ed Wood), the world's worst filmmaker, who brought in his masterpiece, Cadaver, in three days and under budget, using real corpses from the Los Angeles Morgue as standup zombies. Now, ten years have passed since Cadaver, with Landis pining away in his crumbling Hollywood mansion. It's 1967, the summer of love, and Landis's old producer buddy Sol Kravitz shows up to lure him into directing a rock-bottom schlock musical on an atomically small budget. Kravitz has fallen in with Ernie Shackleford, president of Shang-a-Lang records, who wants to feature his talentless rock bands in the movie. The film's star is aging Yvette Love, whose z-cup bra outbusts Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren, and Marilyn Monroe combined. Second leads go to Gayle Mimi (formerly Gayle Ann Perko), making her film debut, and overaged teenager Tad Kingston, 31, whose hair does most of his acting. No sooner does Landis sign on than Hiroshi Watanabe (a name taken from Kurosawa's Ikiru) offers him a much grander salary for doing a monster movie for Toyo films in Japan. Meanwhile, fresh from San Francisco is Landis's cousin, very long-haired Beau Young, whose Stone Savages rehearse on San Francisco's Haight Ashbury. Thus Beau and the Stone Savages join the fun and frenzy. Beau courts Gayle but is seduced by Yvette. The money falls through, and Sol winds up dead in the flame-painted Porsche Spyder that James Dean also died in and which is to be featured in the film. Landis must take off for Japan. Lovers of rock music will find this almost as much fun as the prequel—though less fantastically over the top—or fresh. Read full book review >
SHADE OF PALE by Greg Kihn
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

Ex-rock-and-roll star Kihn's first novel, Horror Show (1996), was a romp based on the satirical film Ed Wood. This time out, he deals with the Banshee, the Irish angel of death, also sometimes regarded as the avenging angel of wronged womanhood. Through a restaurant window, Manhattan shrink Jukes Wahler has himself seen the Banshee, the most beautiful woman on earth. Soon after, a new patient, Declan Loomis, a paranoid, comes for comforting: He, too, has seen the Banshee and asks Wahler to help him die. Wahler, of course, attempts to talk Loomis out of his crazy idea—but not long after, Loomis turns up dead, having been murdered in a particularly grisly fashion. And he's not the only one. The week before, Wahler discovers, Brendan Killian (a radical poet from Ireland) died in the same manner, his body seemingly destroyed by an explosion. Meanwhile, Wahler's sister Cathy has been beaten to a pulp yet again by her vicious fashion photographer boyfriend, Bobby Sudden, who hangs around with Irish terrorist Padraic O'Connor—another who has seen the Banshee and is convinced that he will die. Bobby beats up Wahler, abducts Cathy, and Wahler reports him. But reluctant police see only a lovers' quarrel. Wahler then goes off to see Fiona Rice, a professor of Irish mythology, who fills him in on the Banshee. Is it running amok in Manhattan? By this time, Bobby has got Cathy strung out on heroin. He also, as it happens, likes to kill whores and take snuff photos of their mutilated bodies, to the accompaniment of Procol Harum's recording of ``A Whiter Shade of Pale.'' O'Connor, pretending to be a private detective, visits Wahler and tells him he'll find Cathy for him if Wahler will find the Banshee in return, in hopes that Wahler can help him get off the hook with the ferocious angel. Before Wahler can act, though, the Banshee comes calling on Bobby. Less original but better told than Horror Show. Read full book review >
HORROR SHOW by Greg Kihn
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

Rock star Kihn's talented debut novel, a very entertaining revamping of Ed Wood, the film about Hollywood's worst filmmaker ever. Major episodes of Ed Wood get reworked here with wonderful zest. An alcoholic recluse living in a decaying old Hollywood manse, Woodley Landis, whose abysmal schlock features make Ed Wood's seem like Kurosawa, is offered $600 by young horror buff Clint Stockburn for an interview for Monster Magazine. Landis accepts, and Stockburn begins taping Landis's recollections of filming his masterpiece, Cadaver, a film that was set largely after hours in the L.A. morgue and featured real corpses wired to walk. Cadaver, which was shot faster (three days) than Wood's masterpiece, Plan Nine from Outer Space (a luxurious five days), featured aged junkie and horror actor Jonathon Luboff in the Bela Lugosi slot. All of Luboff's lines have a loving flair worthy of Lugosi, or rather Martin Landau, who played Lugosi in Ed Wood. Instead of wrestling with a rubber octopus, Luboff and a hidden assistant wrestle with a real corpse in the morgue, whose eyes when opened reveal (real!) crawling maggots. The corpse, though registered as John Doe (Luboff blushingly suggests starring him as ``Johnny Dead''), is that of the master Satanist priest Albert Beaumond, who had returned from Peru with two tuning forks— supposedly used to call up Satan—that he'd stolen from a tribe of Stone Age savages. Unfortunately, the tuning forks require a human sacrifice to work properly. Beaumond meets sexy TV horror hostess Devila (read Vampira) at a ghastly Halloween party Landis throws, and drunkenly shows her the tuning forks. After seeing their power, Devila steals them and induces Landis to film the actual emergence of the Devil, who has taken over the undead corpse of Beaumond in the L.A. morgue. Not to be missed by Ed Wood fans, or horror fans generally. Read full book review >