Review: The Kept Girl, by Kim Cooper

The Kept Girl - tour

About the book, The Kept Girl

The Kept Girl - Cover

Los Angeles, 1929: a glittering metropolis on the crest of an epic crash. A mysterious prophetess and her alluring daughter have relieved an oil tycoon’s nephew of his fortune. But the kid won’t talk. To find the money, the old man calls on a trusted executive, Raymond Chandler, who in turn enlists the aid of his devoted secretary/mistress, Muriel Fischer, and their idealistic patrolman friend Tom James.

Soon the nephew is revealed as a high-ranking member of a murderous cult of angel worshippers, and the trio plunges into an investigation that sends 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.

A work of fiction inspired by actual events and featuring the real-life cop who is a likely model for the mature Chandler’s greatest creation, private eye Philip Marlowe, Kim Cooper’s The Kept Girl exposes a mystery so horrifying, it could only be true.

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About the author, Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including Pasadena Confidential, the Real Black Dahlia and Weird West Adams. Her collaborative L.A. history blogs include On Bunker Hill and In SRO Land. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons of LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For Life: Inspiration from a 73-Year Marriage, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Lost in the Grooves and an oral history of the cult band Neutral Milk Hotel. The Kept Girl is her first novel.

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My Thoughts

The first thing that struck me about The Kept Girl was, “Wow, this woman can WRITE.” Why? Because from the very first page we are not just glimpsing, but immersed in Los Angeles in the late 20’s. It’s glitz and glamour, oil money and noir detectives, and it’s all mixed together in a way that feels only fresh, never derivative.

Cooper’s main character, Muriel, is smart and tenacious, and I’d happily follow in her footsteps on an investigation. Tying in real history – this novel is based on the real Raymond Chandler’s boss – only adds depth to the story.

This novel isn’t at all fluffy, and yet, it’s a very quick read because the writing just sings and the plot is so well-paced. Support independent booksellers by buying a copy from Esotouric (link above) or grab the kindle version from Amazon. You won’t regret it.

Goes well with Chinese food and beer.

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