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The Kept Girl

de Kim Cooper

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329641,284 (3.88)1
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.… (més)
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This review was written for LibraryThing Member Giveaways.
In a word, superb. I received the book in a member giveaway/early reviewer drawing. Having grown up in the Los Angeles area and having studied this particular genre, I thought I might be disappointed by the book. Boy, was I wrong! Well written, tightly crafted and steeped in the lore and mystery of the time, this book is amazing. The plot and story are original, fast paced, and the dialogue is spot-on. As a student of the hard-boiled detective novel, I am pleased by Ms. Cooper's dedication to the integrity of the genre; in fact, this rates right up there with Mr. Chandler's own work. The intertwining of real facts, real places, and fictional and real-life characters made this a great read. I honestly couldn't put it down. Write on, Kim Cooper! ( )
  Triviaologist | Aug 29, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Member Giveaways.
The Kept Girl
by
Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper's first novel, The Kept Girl, takes places in Los Angeles in 1929. Cooper's extensive background researching all that is crime in Los Angeles during this time period for her popular Esotouric's crime bus tours, her passion for historical preservation of architecture and homes and her 1947 crime-a-day time travel blog was a natural launch pad for this novel. Cooper knew the Los Angeles of 1929 and.she was willing to share it with us. She tells us a true story of a cult whose activities grew into all manner of depravity and of a city, filled with the wealthy and the destitute, a city which is powerful, yet weak.
We join this story as Clifford Dabbney, nephew of an oil tycoon, is being racked over the coals for losing $40,000. The weak and pathetic Dabney, who is not very forthcoming with how or who he lost this to, is put in Raymond Chandler's care as Chandler is given the assignment of finding Dabney's money. Raymond Chandler, a successful businessman in the oil industry, is himself a complex character. He brings his secretary and mistress, Muriell, into the investigation. In many ways she takes the most hands in role and does so without Chandler's prompting. In doing so we see her begin to reflect on her relationship with Chandler and see him in a different light.
For a third member in the team Chandler seeks the help of a traffic cop, Tom Jones, whose skill set exceeds red light/green light and helping old ladies across the street. It seems Jones was too honest for the Los Angeles Police Department and when he could not be swayed he was shifted down to traffic cop. Soon Chandler and Jones are deep into a mystery involving much more than Dabney's money.
Cooper's writing style is fast paced and easy to follow. She works well with the plot history gave her and in doing so holds nothing back. At times, as a reader you may wish she had. To know humanity can reach such depravity and mask it in something supernatural preying on the weak is frankly something we, for a moment, would just as soon pretend could not happen. Ultimately the realness of Cooper's storytelling becomes a friend and not a foe as light is brought to areas long haunted by darkness. Cooper narrates the rawness of emotion, the reality of torment, the face of evil, the depths to which man will go to be validated with such passion one can not avoid being swept into the story.
The same is true the development of her characters, which were not created in her imagination but were indeed a partt of Los Angeles history. Cooper writes in such a way you finish the book feeling as if you know each one. I was particularly impressed in how she nailed the ever complex Chandler.
Her descriptions of the setting such as the area and buildings of the cult complex was vivid making it easy to see in the reader's eye. Because of her love for history and this being such a part of the city's history it would have been natural to have decriptive settings in some of the historical city structures.
I applaud Cooper's great success in takng a story with such difficult material and weaving a work for current day readers.
Note: I was given an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  Books4Nana | May 6, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Member Giveaways.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

This book was very interesting. Based on a true story starring Raymond Chandler before he was an author. Ray Chandler works for an oil company and one day the boss calls him into the office in order to discuss a delicate matter. The boss' nephew got involved with a cult and has given all his money to the cult. Chandler's boss wants him to find out what happened to the money.

From here, we meet Chandler's secretary (as well as part-time lover), Muriel, and a whole bunch of interesting people including a cop who is said to have inspired the character of Philip Marlowe. I really enjoyed this one; it was fun to discover LA and spend some more time in the Prohibition Era.

With the help of his friends, Chandler uncovers the truth behind the disappearing money and also, uncovers a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a girl involved in the cult. We meet the head of the cult, nasty demeaning woman who is nice to her devotees as she takes their money, but deals with them more harshly after all the money is gone. We also meet her daughter who appears to be the kept girl of the title.

Good story. ( )
  slimy07 | Apr 28, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Member Giveaways.
It wasn't bad nor was it great. It was just okay. Reading it, I kept feeling like someone was striking a match, only a few sparks spit out but not enough to keep it lit. The streets and houses were more colorful than the characters. I did enjoy Muriel, but the others seemed to fizzle.This is just my opinion. The other reviews raved about the writing style, which I may have missed. I may try another of her books, maybe I just didn't get it. ( )
  mahree | Mar 21, 2014 |
On my bucket list is doing every bus tour offered Esotouric. My wife and I are both obsessed with Los Angeles and its sordid history, and when I saw that the Esotouric's creator had just written a novel about Raymond Chandler, I went it into a swooning fit.  Then I read the book, and swooned again.

Set in 1929, the story is told by Raymond Chandler, then an oil company executive, who is tasked with ascertaining how his boss's son lost thousands of dollars, including oil leases, over the years.  This is historical Chandler -- an English ex-pat living in LA, melancholic, pipe-smoking, an older wife -- not Chandler by way of his fictional creation, Philip Marlowe. As such, he needs help with his investigation, and calls on his spunky secretary-slash-girlfriend Muriel and a beat cop whose moral compass cost him his promotion, Tom James.  But what seems to be a simple case of a couple taken in by hucksters turns out to be more complicated, dangerous, and messier than Chandler and company expected.

By far, Muriel made the story for me, and I wouldn't mind a whole series about her. (In a blog post about the novel's origins, Cooper says that once she had the idea for Muriel, 'everything came alive', and I couldn't agree more!)

Cooper's writing style is wonderful, warm and inviting, and rich with ambiance.  I don't think those unfamiliar with the era will be lost, as Cooper includes tidbits that evoke a strong sense of time and place without overwhelming the action.  Her articulation of Raymond Chandler is so good -- pathetic and intriguing in equal part, clever and cowardly -- and those who are new to Chandler will enjoy this seedy sort of introduction.

My only critique of this book is that there's a shift in narrative POV early on that I found jarring: the novel starts off with first person POV in Chandler's view point, but quickly drops that to third person POV between Chadler, Muriel, and Tom James.  I actually didn't notice it while reading, and it wasn't until I entered in the novel's first sentence did I realize at some point there was a POV shift.  I'm glad for it, as I enjoyed being with Muriel as much as I did Chandler!

According to this Kirkus Reviews feature, Cooper is considering a sequel, and like the author of the piece, I too am hoping she'll write one. 

In the end, a deeply delicious read.  Those who like ripped-from-the-headlines type crime stories will want this one, as well as anyone who enjoys the atmosphere of 1920s LA.  Until February 27th, you can enter to win a copy of the book via the author's website! ( )
  unabridgedchick | Feb 18, 2014 |
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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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