Books by Ken Kuhlken

Ken Kuhlken’s stories have appeared in ESQUIRE and dozens of other magazines, been honorably mentioned in Best American Short Stories, and earned a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. His novels are: MIDHEAVEN, chosen as finalist for the Ernest H

Released: Aug. 5, 2014

"Kuhlken (The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles, 2010, etc.) overreaches by creating parallel investigations a generation apart and larding this middle-period Hickey family saga with real-life celebrities. It's hard for the central character to hold his own against all that stellar competition."
A parade of historical characters comes under investigation when an LAPD detective and his sister try to solve a mystery about their father. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2010

"Kuhlken (The Vagabond Virgins, 2008, etc.) overloads his plot beyond his ability to keep the tangled lines clear and sprinkles 1926 decor with the gusto of a tour bus guide."
An unreported lynching spurs a musician to action. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2008

"Not much story here, but the family Hickey—Alvaro, brother Clifford and Pop (The Do-Re-Mi, 2006, etc.)—is always entertaining."
She looks like someone Alvaro Hickey "dream[s] about every day," and he's instantly smitten—with the Virgin of Guadalupe? Read full book review >
THE DO-RE-MI by Ken Kuhlken
Released: Nov. 30, 2006

"Crime, punishment and redemption. Kuhlken's sixth (The Angel Gang, 1994, etc.) is by far his best."
Kuhlken revisits the Hickey family in a tale as sensitive and heartfelt as it is action-packed. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 15, 1994

San Diego shamus Tom Hickey (The Venus Deal, 1993, etc.), now retired to Tahoe with his very pregnant wife, Wendy, thinks the summons from hellion Cynthia Jones, who's sitting in a San Diego jail for torching her hated brother-in-law's club with him inside, has plopped him into the middle of an updated Red Harvest (not very updated, since it's 1950). He'll buzz down the coast, make enough waves to set the probable killers—rival gangsters Mickey Cohen and Angelo Paoli—against each other, and then sit back while the two gangs rub each other out. But the plan develops an unexpected twist: Somebody (well-entrenched Cohen? New Jersey ÇmigrÇ Paoli?) gets mad enough to snatch childlike Wendy, while another pair of thugs grabs Tom's old partner, Leo Weiss, and starts working him over real bad, real slow. With his great instincts and contacts, Tom doesn't have to ride herd on the case in San Diego; after dropping a few dark threats that spring Cynthia from jail, he high- tails it back home, ostensibly to persuade Wendy's kidnappers that he's off the case but actually to convince them that they messed with the wrong expectant mother. Fast and fervid as the first two installments of the trilogy, with detective logic overwhelmed by enough hired guns for a whole season of hallucinatory TV shootouts. Read full book review >
THE VENUS DEAL by Ken Kuhlken
Released: April 15, 1993

A prequel to The Loud Adios (1991) that finds p.i. Tom Hickey sharing ownership of a San Diego bar with suspected mobster Paul Castillo back in 1942. When Cynthia Moon, the singer who's been luring servicemen and wartime workers into the bar, goes AWOL with a loaded gun, Hickey hires himself to track her down. Cynthia's luridly written journal—which blames her mother Venus for the deaths of Venus's sister Ophelia, Cynthia's protector Madame EsmÇ, and semi-famous poet Will Lashlee—indicates that Cynthia's gone after Venus's lecherous spiritual leader, a Theosophist Master whose former experimental community, Otherworld, collapsed in a cloud of death and mystery. Even after Cynthia returns, Tom will have to deal with more mobsters, a plot to buy up the land around the town of Dunsmuir, and a moment when he'll have to decide whether to save the Master from a hired killer- -and then have to live with the consequences. Tangled and murky—long on violence, bloodlust, atmosphere, and loose ends. Read full book review >
THE LOUD ADIOS by Ken Kuhlken
Released: Aug. 22, 1991

The Long Goodbye meets The Wild Bunch in this dark, atmospheric tale of mystery, violence, and international intrigue in 1943 Tijuana, where Clifford Rose's ethereally innocent sister Wendy has been kidnapped by a crew of Nazi Satanists. As ringleaders Juan and Frank Metzger and monstrous Se§or Zarp dangle Wendy just out of Clifford's reach, he gets a big assist from p.i.-turned-MP Tom Hickey (still trying to exorcise his own departed womenfolk), Hickey's old partner Leo Weiss, and a one-eyed cabbie named Tito, all of whom will carry on the wildly escalating fight—even after Clifford, among many others, abruptly checks out—to rescue Wendy, foil a German plot to overthrow the government of Baja California, and retrieve a fortune in gold. As in Kuhlken's mainstream debut Midheaven (1980), the baroque plot finally spirals out of control—but not before hatching a memorably sweaty, smoky, hellish portrait of wartime Mexico. This is the fifth winner in St. Martin's Best First Private Eye Novel contest. Read full book review >