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.