Poisoned Pen, 2006 (2006)
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
n the late summer of 1972, Clifford Hickey journeys to California's redwood forest to join his brother at a folk festival. This area, rife with marijuana growers, hippies, and a motorcycle gang called the Cossacks, doesn't seem the right venue for a festival. Hickey's adopted brother Alvaro is accused of shooting a local lawman's nephew and the order to apprehend or kill him is issued.
ickey's father Tom, a retired private eye, having retired first from the police force, appears on the scene to save his son from almost certain annihilation, bringing along his wife Wendy, who teeters on the brink of catatonia from a trauma developed in a previous novel about the Hickey family. The plot of
proves to be convoluted but on course, never wavering from its point. The true killer remains elusive and, although we never meet Alvaro, his well-being becomes the whole point of the book. Clifford's awe of his father and of his detecting skills is heartwarming and refreshing in a day when parents were often disregarded as being clueless.
he Cossacks strike fear in the heart as author Ken Kuhlken meant them to. Ava, the deceased's girlfriend, proves to be a gentle soul who hates the violence in the world. Clifford takes a beating but still continues to try to discover who the killer could be. He has an idea but needs proof. Knudson, the supposed FBI man, seems elusive as though more was expected of him but that doesn't happen. All ends, not well, but in a believable conclusion. Hopefully readers will see more of the Hickey family in another book in the series.
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