Books

MYSTERIES FOR ENGLISH MAJORS

Tom Hickey and Family

THE BIGGEST LIAR IN LOS ANGELES:  (L.A. 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.

THE GOOD KNOW NOTHING:  (L.A., Tucson, and McCloud, CA. 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 VENUS DEAL:  (San Diego, Mount Shasta, Denver, Tijuana, 1942)   A gifted jazz singer leaves her job at a San Diego nightclub to avenge the sexual crimes of a spiritualist guru.

THE LOUD ADIOS
:  (San Diego, Tijuana, 1943)   Tom s discovers Nazis plotting to make Baja California a German colony.   St. Martins Press, PWA Best First P.I. Novel

THE ANGEL GANG:  (Lake Tahoe, San Diego, L.A., 1950)  An L.A. mob’s beef against Tom results in the kidnap of pregnant Wendy Hickey. Tom alone can’t rescue her, but if he can enlist the help of the Las Vegas mob as well as angels, in whom Wendy steadfastly believes, maybe …

THE DO-RE-MI:  (Rural Northern California, 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 hippies and Jesus freaks.   Shamus Best Novel finalist.

THE VAGABOND VIRGINS:  (San Diego, Rural Baja California, 1979)  A heavenly apparition appears in Baja California rallying the faithful to overthrow the corrupt Mexican government. Alvaro Hickey joins her crusade.

MIDHEAVEN: (Lake Tahoe, 1974) Jodi McGee tells the haunting story of her treacherous eighteenth year and the battle between her quest for God and her love for an older man.  Finalist for PEN’s Ernest Hemingway Award.

THE VERY LEAST: (San Diego, Tijuana, Lake Tahoe, 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. Clifford offers to help Bo clear her friend. The downside: he infuriates dangerous cholos, politicians, and tycoons on both sides of the border. The upside, he meets Jodi McGee.

THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING: (San Diego, Tijuana, Lake Tahoe, 1990) Attorney Alvaro Hickey allegedly conspires in the murder of a Tijuana cartel hitman; then he becomes the murderer’s lawyer. The cartel, known for the massacres of entire families, now targets the Hickey-McGees.


A MIND-BENDING FAMILY SAGA 

FOR AMERICA includes:

SUPERMEN: Readers accompany Otis Otterbach on a road trip to the little league world series, share his torments prompted by sex and other facts of life, follow him and his best friend and catcher Casey through the MLB draft and on a mysterious mission directed by Casey’s mother, the deranged and homicidal Cyjnthia Jones.

THIS ROUGH BEAST: Otis attempts to make a life after baseball and after Casey disappears, perhaps on the run after committing murder. The story follows and interprets the hopes and turmoil of the 1960s including the Vietnam war through the eyes of an infantry soldier, a helicopter pilot, and a deserter; the protest movements in Berkeley; the rise and fall of the folk music and coffee house scene; the Manson family and what its existence caused and taught, from the point of view of the girl whose testimony assured the conviction of Charles Manson.

THE GAS CRISIS:Following the loss of his home and Casey, Otis faces tough questions, such as whether to stay married, what sort of work and life to pursue and, above all, whether to kill Henry Tucker, whom his nemesis Cynthia Jones calls the Enemy. These dilemmas send him from California to Iowa where he enrolls in a prestigious graduate school. But panic attics and encounters with famous writers living and dead convince him to flee in haunted desperation.

WAR: Otis decides not to inhabit the same world as the one he holds responsible for burning down his home and killing his dearest friend. He trains to make himself into a ruthless warrior then and sets off on what will likely be a suicide mission. After searching in wilderness and jungles, he finally arrives in the capital of Mexico, where the Enemy and followers await him.

THE HOLY GRAIL concludes the For America saga with Otis finding in an island prison a measure of peace, which then is disturbed by baseball and the rape of a woman he loves. He escapes from prison and flees Mexico to settle with the rapist and with the resurrected Enemy, and with the deranged and relentless Cynthia Jones.

After Otis once again falls in love and renews his pursuit of a baseball career, a team of screwball Charles Manson worshippers come seeking revenge against his dear friend Nancy, once a Manson family girl.


UN-SERIES STORIES

NEWPORT AVE:  A fugitive from a manslaughter charge returns home to a foggy California beach town hoping to protect his sister Olivia from her estranged husband, a mob-connected gambler. He enlists the help of his closest old friend, now a devoted family man and Sunday school teacher. After exploring all options, they decide the only sure way to protect Olivia is to kill the gambler. Newport Ave, a gripping novel in the noir tradition. explores crime and its endless consequences.

CARS: Short stories that vividly capture California as a glorious dream, a hallucination, and a nightmare, a state we all should visit though we might not want to risk living there.

HUMORING Alan Russell

ROAD KILL: An odd pair of mystery writers embark on an epic journey to convince America’s readers to buy their books. But the dark forces of commerce are allied against them.

NO CATS, NO CHOCOLATE: Ken and Alan Russell take to the road once again, this time to to appear on Oprah Winfrey and advocate for serious literature while covertly launching a career as romance writers.


ON WRITING

WRITING AND THE SPIRIT: Who needs inspiration? Everybody, especially writers. Here’s where and how to find it: click that link for the book; click this link for the podcast/


A MEMOIR

READING BROTHER LAWRENCE: On the road to the Kingdom of Heaven.