Friday, July 27, 2007

Pg. 99: Ken Kuhlken's "The Do-Re-Mi"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Ken Kuhlken's The Do-Re-Mi.

About the book
, from the publisher:

It's late summer, 1972, up in California's redwood forests. They seem a "safe and wondrous place," but some of Evergreen's population is growing pot up in the trees and others are bent on stealing it. Then there's the coming folk festival, a jamboree bringing in musicians, fans, war protesters -- a ferment of flower power (the local hippies), raw power (the local biker gangs, notably the Cossacks), and the power of the law (local and federal). Skirting the edges are shades of the Manson Family and the Mexican Mafia.

Clifford Hickey, scheduled to perform a guitar gig at the festival before trucking off to law school, arrives at his brother Alvaro's peaceful woodland campsite. And within moments Alvaro, combat trained, is faced with six armed men in badges crashing the camp, and runs. Clifford, surprised, is arrested and brutally cuffed, so brutally he fears for his hands. He then learns that a young man, one of the sheriffs' nephews, has just been murdered. Alvaro is the posse's quarry.

So here's Clifford, on the brink of adult life, pitched into not just a murder but what develops into a duel between the Hickeys -- for his father and mother soon drive up -- and the law, between the Hickeys and the Cossacks -- who seemingly have their own agenda for Alvaro and, between the Hickeys and the locals, and finally between the Hickeys and their own past.

Among the praise for The Do-Re-Mi:

"...thoughtful and exciting.... Among its other virtues, it captures summer 1972 and its motley crew -- outlaw bikers, war protestors, marijuana growers and users -- to understated perfection."
-- Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune

"Kuhlken's fourth mystery to feature the endearing Hickey clan ... brings the social and cultural scene of the period vividly to life."
-- Publishers Weekly

"Colorful characters and a compelling storyline with the right amount of suspense will keep readers guessing."
-- Library Journal

"Readers will enjoy this tale, which captures the history and atmosphere of 1970s California as well as the complex dynamics of a fascinating family."
-- Booklist

“Kuhlken revisits the Hickey family in a tale as sensitive and heartfelt as it is action-packed.... Lying fallow hasn't hurt the Hickeys, who've only become more introspective and complex.... Crime, punishment and redemption. Kuhlken's best.”
-- Kirkus

"...along with the interplay between the characters, the poignant comments and the laugh-out-loud one-liners, The Do-Re-Mi contains more than a trace of the bitter aftertaste that the Summer of Love and the promise of the 1960s not only failed to pan out, but left America in the throes of the confusion and paranoia of the 70s."
-- Stephen Miller, January Magazine
Ken Kuhlken’s stories have appeared in Esquire and other magazines.

His novels include: Midheaven, chosen as finalist for the Ernest Hemingway Award for best first novel; The Loud Adios, a Tom Hickey story set in 1943, winner of the St. Martin's Press/PI Writers of America Best First PI Novel award; The Venus Deal, a Tom Hickey mystery set in 1942; and The Angel Gang, a Tom Hickey novel set in 1949.

The Do-Re-Mi, a Clifford and Tom Hickey mystery set in 1971, has been named a finalist for the 2006 Shamus Award.

Visit Kuhlken's website to learn more about The Do-Re-Mi and read an excerpt.

The Page 99 Test: The Do-Re-Mi.

--Marshal Zeringue