The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles by Ken Kuhlken

The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles
Ken Kuhlken
Poisoned Pen Press (2010)
ISBN 9781590586976
Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (06/10)


The year is 1926 in Los Angeles (LA), when Tom Hickey finds out that his old friend has been brutally murdered.  His friend, Frank Gaines, an African American, was lynched in an LA park.  Frank was a true friend to Tom and his sister when he needed it most as a child and Tom vows to find out who murdered him.

As Tom begins his investigation, he is furious about the fact that he found out through a broadside and it was never reported in the newspapers.   He enlists his friend, LA detective Leo Weiss in the investigation as things start to go crazy.  The cover-up appears to go deep and involve a very interesting character, evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson and her Angelus Temple.  Tom discovers some very valuable leads when he visits her Temple for service and is followed when he leaves.

At the same time Tom is trying to uncover the truth behind the murder, he is also working to support his younger, wilder sister and keep her out of trouble.   After long hours as a truck driver and a musician, Tom spends many late nights traveling through Speakeasy’s looking for his teenage sister who is supposed to be at home while he is working.   The powerful enemies start to add up as he follows each lead.  Real historical characters are also portrayed – Police Chief Tow Gun Davis, William Randolph Hurst and Harry Chandler.  He knows that he’s in over his head when he is exposed to gunfire and a severe beating.

The story is very fast paced and well-written.  I liked the fact that the author tied in real life historical characters and seemed to know the era that he was writing about.  The fictional characters were definitely well thought out and very colorful.  I would highly recommend “The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles” to anyone who enjoys a great mystery thriller.

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