Gentle Reader. . .
Psst! Come over here, pal, into the light where we can see you properly. Yeah, yeah, we thought so. You look like a sharp operator, a person of taste and sophistication. We figured you'd be interested in getting in on the ground floor of something pretty special. Nah, it's not real estate, or a low budget movie, or any of that pie-in-the-sky malarkey. It's a book! And not just any book: it's our own Kim Cooper's debut novel, The Kept Girl.
Now if you've been on our Raymond Chandler bus, or if you remember the Wild Wild West Side tour, you got a head start, because we've already told bits of this yarn on those outings. Shhhh, if you know the twists, don't give 'em away!
Kim's book is a fact-based thriller starring the young Raymond Chandler on the trail of a murderous cult of 1920s angel worshippers. See, the sexy priestess took the dimwitted nephew of Chandler's boss at the oil company for all he was worth, then tossed him out on his ear. That's where Chandler comes in, at least in the novel. With the help of his faithful secretary, Muriel, and L.A.'s most upright beat officer, Tom James (the likely inspiration for Philip Marlowe himself), Chandler launches an investigation that has them careening across Southern California, from sinister sanitariums to roadside burger stands, decaying Bunker Hill mansions to sparkling cocktail parties, taxi dance halls to the morgue, all in search of the secretive Great Eleven. But when Muriel goes undercover to infiltrate the group's rural lair, she comes face to face with disturbing truths that threaten to spoil everything, not just for the cult's members, but for herself as well.
Sounds exciting, but is the book any good? Well, we shared the manuscript with some damn fine writers, and got their thoughts. Denise Hamilton calls The Kept Girl "A deeply researched and compulsively readable crime novel" and John Buntin says "Kim Cooper is the perfect Virgil to 1929 Los Angeles. Her knowledge of the city that was is unparalleled, her imagination unnerving." Matthew Specktor says "The effortlessness with which it borrows against the Chandler tradition while retaining its unique intelligence and slyly contemporary flavor is just plain stunning," and David Kipen enthuses "Holy cats, this woman can write!" Don't believe 'em? See for yourself with this sample chapter.
"Enough, enough already," you say. "Turn off the soft soap. Where can I get a copy of this book?"
That's where things get interesting. The Kept Girl is being published along very special, and old fashioned, lines: by Subscription. See, instead of relying on a single regal patron, 17th Century English authors and publishers would cultivate a select group of literate, engaged readers and collectors whose support encouraged the publication of books that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive to produce.
Oh, you'll be able to buy The Kept Girl in paperback or as an ebook early next year. But we hope you'll consider becoming a Subscriber, and helping the book happen. As a Subscriber, you'll get your copy before anyone else, wrapped in a beautiful decorative slipcase. You'll be invited to one heck of a party. And your name will be in every copy of The Kept Girl, because Subscribers are VIPs and we want everybody to know it.
The cost for a Subscription is just 65 clams (that's dollars, chum), and you can only reserve one through Christmas. You don't have to decide now. Take this link, and gnaw on it for a while. We'll still be here when you make up your mind.
And in the meanwhile, take a gander at that gorgeous cover art. The great Paul Rogers drew that, and your name could be inside.
We're on the bus this Saturday with the Haunts of a Dirty Old Man tour, which takes us through Charles Bukowski's favorite places, from downtown to East Hollywood. Join us, do!
Now read on, for all the news you can use.
Upcoming Tours & Happenings
Come explore Charles Bukowski's lost Los Angeles and the fascinating contradictions that make this great local writer such a hoot to explore. Haunts of a Dirty Old Man is a raucous day out celebrating liquor, ladies, pimps and poets. The tour includes a visit to Buk's DeLongpre bungalow, where you'll see the Cultural-Historic Monument sign that we helped to get approved, and a mid-tour provisions stop at Pink Elephant Liquor.
Go East, young ghoul, with our newest crime bus adventure. Come visit Boyle Heights, where the Night Stalker was captured and a mad dad ran amok. Roam the hallowed lawns of Evergreen, L.A.'s oldest cemetery and home of some memorable haunts and strange burials. Visit East L.A., where a deranged radio shop employee made mince meat of his boss and bride–and you can get your hair done in a building shaped like a giant tamale. Explore the ghastly streets of Commerce, where one small neighborhood's myriad crimes will shock and surprise. Visit Montebello, for scrumptious milk and cookies at Broguiere's Farm Fresh Dairy washed down with a horrifying case of child murder.
Here's a most beguiling bus adventure to add to your butterfly collection. Come ride through the Beverly Hills of the early 20th Century, a mysterious neighborhood of decaying manors, dark secrets and souls that rest unpeacefully in their pretty graves. From the Krazy Kafitz family who simply could not behave, to the woe-begotten Marvin Gayes Junior and Senior, jazz age bootleggers, poison-gobbling kiddies, fiends and freaks, it's a tour packed with oddities and the unexpected. And the architecture too is to die for, from courtly Alvarado Terrace to the lovely lawns of Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, where some of the most fascinating characters are buried. You won't want to miss this grim day out, so join us, do.
Come spend a very special day exploring the nooks, crannies, highways and byways of the Antelope Valley, and celebrating Richard's birthday. Once a year we arrange for a completely unique bus adventure, and this promises to be a lively one, with stops at a couple of provocative museums, a stroll through an ancient Joshua tree forest, and visits with some of our favorite high desert curators. Plus birthday cake, rare film footage and a special appearance by Richard's mother. This excursion will never be repeated, and we'd love to share it with you.
AND FINALLY, LINKS!
KEEP THE TAGS AS THEY ARE FOR EMPHASIS SO THE SIGN OFF IS NOT LOST
Kim & Richard