Ayo Onatade is an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction. She has been writing reviews, interviews and articles on the subject for the last 12 years; with an eclectic taste from historical to hardboiled, short stories and noir films
Looking for a novel that brilliantly evokes 1920s Los Angeles? Then if so The Kept Girl by Kim Cooper is the current book in question. When a secretive clairvoyant and her daughter fleece an oil tycoon’s nephew of his fortune a young Raymond Chandler is asked by his boss to help find his nephew’s money.
The nephew is however reluctant to cooperate. As Chandler endeavours to find out what is going on he enlists the help of Muriel his loyal secretary and mistress and Tom James a demoted but idealistic LAPD officer. It soon turns out that he is heavily involved in the cult itself and is a high-ranking officer.
As the three of them investigate they find themselves crossing Southern California and various different places including a sinister sanatorium, a roadside burger bar to crumbling Bunker Hill mansions, glittering cocktail parties and a morgue in their search for the group. It is not until one of them infiltrates the group and comes face to face with the disquieting reality that endangers everyone before the truth is revealed over a very busy week.
The Kept Girl is an historical noir novel based on a dramatic real life cult murder spree that took place in Los Angeles but which people did not know about until the leaders were taken to court for fraud. Chandler is portrayed during a period where he is still an oil executive and not yet the novelist he was to become.
The novel delves into the dark criminal underworld of 1920s L.A with characters that are reminiscent of one of Chandler’s own novel. It is full of snappy dialogue, dark places and a storyline that is as noir as one could expect. It is a brilliantly written novel full of drama, thrills and a sense of 1920s Los Angeles. Lovers of noir and Raymond Chandler should certainly read The Kept Girl it will keep you fascinated till the end.