The Good Know Nothing (Bargain Read)

“Kuhlken works real people and events into the story (evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson and William Randolph Hearst, for example) and vividly anchors the reader in the story’s time and place. The social consciousness and the L.A. setting across decades make this series a fine choice for fans of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins novels.” ~ Booklist

During the summer of 1936, destitute farmers from the Dust Bowl swarm into California, and an old friend brings L.A. police detective Tom Hickey a book manuscript, a clue to the mystery of his father Charlie’s long-ago disappearance. Tom chooses to risk losing his job and family to follow the lead, though even his oldest friend and mentor, fellow detective Leo Weiss, passionately opposes Tom’s decision.

In his relentless effort to find out what happened to Charlie, Tom lures the novelist B. Traven to Catalina Island and accuses him of homicide. Traven’s tale is that the Sundance Kid, having escaped from his reputed death in Bolivia, killed Charlie.

Tom crosses the desert to Tucson, pursuing the legendary outlaw. En route, he meets a young Dust Bowl refugee intent on avenging the enslavement of his sister by an L.A. cop on temporary border duty in Yuma. Tom frees the sister, delivers the boy’s revenge, and becomes a fugitive, wanted for felony assault by the L.A.P.D., his now former employer.

What he learns in Tucson sends Tom up against newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. He hopes to enlist Leo before confronting Hearst. But instead, Leo reveals the reason he has tried to keep Tom from investigating: evidence that Tom’s father was hardly the gentle fellow his children believed.

For Tom and his sister, both victims of Charlie’s wife, their crazy mother, the question is: what now?


Meet Ken Kuhlken

Some of Ken’s favorites are early mornings, the desert in spring, kind and honest people, baseball and other sports played by those who don’t take themselves too seriously, most kids, and films he and his Zoe can enjoy together.

He reads a lot.

He has long been the author of novels, stories, articles, poems, and essays. Lots of honors have come his way, including a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship; Poets, Essayists and Novelist’s Ernest Hemingway Award; Private Eye Writers of America Best First Novel and Shamus Best Novel; and several San Diego and Los Angeles Book Awards.

Though he advocates beer in a video, he actually prefers Scotch.

Here are some of the kind words written about Ken’s work:

“… brings a great new character — and a fresh voice — into the mystery field.” Novelist Tony Hillerman

“Kuhlken is an original, and in these days of cookie-cutter fiction, originality is something to be prized.” San Diego Union Tribune

“… brings the social and cultural scene of the period vividly to life. ” Publisher’s Weekly

“… a tale as sensitive and heartfelt as it is action-packed.” Kirkus Reviews

“… takes readers into dark experiences and deep understandings that can’t help but leave them changed.” Novelist Michael Collins

“Kuhlken weaves a complex plot around a complex man, a weary hero who tries to maintain standards as all around him fall to temptation. ” Publisher’s Weekly

“… a stunning combination of bad guys and angels, of fast-moving action and poignant, heartbreaking encounters.” Novelist Wendy Hornsby

“… captures the history and atmosphere of the 1970s as well as the complex dynamics of a fascinating family.” Booklist

“… a tale as sensitive and heartfelt as it is action-packed … Crime, punishment and redemption.” Kirkus Reviews

“… fast-moving adventure, effectively combines mainstream historical fiction with the conventions of the hard-boiled detective novel.” Booklist

“A wonderful, literate, and very ambitious novel that does everything a good story should do. It surprises, delights, it jolts and makes you think .” Novelist T. Jefferson Parker

“… a pleasure to read.” Novelist Anne Tyler

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