Time travel through the 1940s in three hardboiled P.I. novels.
The three novels that made Tom Hickey famous in original first edition hardback from St. Martin's Press.
The Venus Deal: Following Pearl Harbor, Tom Hickey and a partner open a supper club, Rudy’s Hacienda, in downtown San Diego, a few blocks from the harbor. The club thrives. and Tom’s glad to be making money. His wife Madeline, part gold-digger, has wearied of living in decent but modest circumstances.
Tom’s ticket to prosperity and family harmony is Cynthia Moon, the club’s jazz singer who enraptures admirals, generals, and tycoons. When she disappears, it’s not only concern for the girl that sends him searching.
The hunt carries him to the village of Mount Shasta and into the web of a Hindu-inspired occultist. Though he doesn’t find Cynthia, he deduces her motive for disappearing. And he learns the first part of her desperate plan, which sends him to Denver in search of a hit man.
Back in San Diego, he deduces the rest of her plan. He speeds across the border in hopes of arriving in time to stop her, and perhaps break the spell of her madness and despair.
“Mysticism, a journal full of poetic folklore, and the noir-like dialog push an especially complex plot from start to finish. Along with Gaylord Dold and Max Allan Collins, Kuhlken joins the ranks of P.I. authors presenting their character in a historical setting and pulling the deed off with skill and grace. Highly recommended.” ~ Publisher’s Weekly
The Loud Adios: Private Investigator Tom Hickey, now an army corporal military policeman assigned to the U.S./Mexico border, accompanies Private Clifford Rose to a Tijuana nightclub where Clifford claims they will find his sister Wendy.
The nightclub is aptly named Hell. Wendy, dancing naked on the stage, appears so lost and innocent, Tom agrees to help rescue her from the men her brother claims kidnapped the girl.
Her captors, Tom discovers, are led by a German occultist and financed by the powerful del Monte family. He comes to believe they are plotting a coup whose purpose is to give the Nazis a base from which to attack San Diego, home of the world’s largest military/industrial presence.
After Tom learns he’s considered AWOL and his attempts to alert the military of the danger are treated as nonsense, he declares a war of his own.
The Angel Gang: Tom and Wendy Hickey are attempting the happily ever after routine, in their shack on the shore of Lake Tahoe. Wendy is pregnant and fragile, and Tom intends to put nothing above caring for her.
Then Cynthia Moon calls. She used to sing at Rudy’s Hacienda, a San Diego nightclub in which Tom was a partner. She begs him to come and help clear her of an arson charge. Wendy urges him to go.
Tom speeds to San Diego, intending to return within a couple days. But when Cynthia blames an L.A. mob for the arson, and Tom begins snooping, Wendy disappears.
The hunt for his wife sends Tom back to Tahoe and to the lakeside mansion of a casino mogul. He takes the man hostage and demands he use all his powers to deliver Wendy.
Back in Southern California, Tom’s partner Leo Weiss, prompted by a little evidence and a big grudge, pursues the arson investigation into the territory of the ruthless Mickey Cohen mob.
“The angels of the title intercede to save most, but not all, of the worthy characters in this gritty, brutal tale, which is tenderized by the PI’s near palpable devotion to his wife.” ~ Publisher’s Weekly