the HICKEY FAMILY crime novels

The Hickey Family novels follow Tom, son of a missing father and deranged mother, loving brother to a splendid and wild sister, from his first criminal investigation in 1926 and on through his turbulent century. Along the way, while twice marrying, twice fathering, and also adopting a most remarkable family, he confronts and overcomes a host of powerful adversaries.

The books have been rightfully tagged hard-boiled, noir, thrillers, suspense, and of course historical. They are also called literary, for the exquisite language and honest drama, and Christian by some, as the mysteries they encounter are not always worldly. 

Each of the books is a riveting story of crime, heroics, and all sorts of love. Together, they offer a vivid and panoramic vision of California as it transforms from a frontier to the most influential place on earth. 

“Tom Hickey is one of detective fiction’s most original and intriguing creations.”  San Francisco Chronicle​

“Elegant, eloquent, and elegiac, Kuhlken’s novels sing an old melody, at the same time haunting and beautiful.” Novelist Don Winslow

Readers are encouraged to start with any book in the collection, as each was created to stand alone, or begin with the first book of whichever of the four parts most suits their historical interest.

The beginning: HICKEY AND HICKEY 

The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles:  (1926)  Unless a famous evangelist will take agnostic Tom Hickey into her confidence, he may never learn if the Ku Klux Klan lynched his friend.   San Diego Book Awards Best Mystery.

Read Chapter One.


The Good Know Nothing (1936) Author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, an outlaw who may be the Sundance Kid, and publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst stand between Tom and the truth about the disappearance of his father.   Los Angeles Book Festival Best Mystery Award.   


The next part: TOM HICKEY’S WAR

The Venus Deal: (1942)  A gifted jazz singer leaves her job at Tom Hickey’s San Diego nightclub to avenge the sexual crimes of a spiritualist guru.  


The Loud Adios: (1943) With the whole world at war, Tom is an MP at the border when he discovers Nazis plotting to make Baja California a German colony.  PWA Best First P.I. Novel.  


The Angel Gang: (1950) An L.A. mob’s beef against Tom leads to the kidnapping of pregnant Wendy Hickey. Alone, Tom can’t save her, but with the help of the Nevada mob and Tahoe’s resident angels, maybe . . .    


And then comes: HICKEY AND SONS

The Do-Re-Mi: (1971)  The Hickey’s adopted son Alvaro, a musician booked at a folk festival, flees from a murder accusation. His brother Clifford’s best chance of proving him innocent requires the help of a lovely Jesus freak. Shamus Best Novel finalist.   


The Vagabond Virgins:  (1979)  When a heavenly apparition appears in Baja California rallying the faithful to overthrow the corrupt Mexican government, Alvaro Hickey joins her crusade.  


The several endings: HICKEY AND MCGEE

Midheaven (1974) Jodi McGee, whom readers will meet again in The Very Least and the Answer to Everything, tells the haunting story of her treacherous eighteenth year and the battle between her quest for God and her love for a troubled atheist.    


The Very Least: (1985)  A dear friend of Clifford’s cousin Bo crosses the border on the run from a charge of molesting children in a church nursery school. After journalist Clifford offers to help, he infuriates dangerous cholos, politicians, and tycoons on both sides of the border.   


the Answer to Everything: (1990) Attorney Alvaro Hickey assists in the murder of a Tijuana cartel sicaro then becomes the murderer’s lawyer and the cartel’s target., 


The Hickey’s love music, especially these songs, each of which plays a part in their books.