Thrill Girl (Paperback)
June, 1951...It's a tense summer in the City of Angels. A killer is on the loose. She's blonde, she's beautiful, and she murders bad guys. On three different occasions, she thwarted a mugging in progress, saving the innocent, dispatching the guilty, and fading away like a whisper in the rain. She never waits around for thanks. Apparently she doesn't want any.
Who is this woman?
Jack Curran, star reporter, is determined to find out. He's a good citizen. A war hero. A journalist who wants to write fiction, which he plans to once he files an exclusive on Thrill Girl's identity. When Thrill Girl strikes a fourth time, adding two more to her body count while saving a pretty shop girl, his investigation leads him to socialite Alana Maxwell. She's blonde. She's beautiful.
Does she murder bad guys?
Despite his publisher's warning to beware her very connected and powerful step-brother, Jack goes to ask her, face to face. But Alana Maxwell doesn't care that a newspaperman is tracking her like a hound with a snout full of fox. She has only one thing on her mind, saving her younger brother's life. It's something she'll do anything to accomplish. Anything. Including taking illicit drugs, living with blackouts and hallucinations, and putting herself in the hands of a mysterious doctor she has no good reason to trust.
Before Jack can nail down Alana's connection to Thrill Girl, LA is rocked by an even more lurid crime. A bum is ripped to pieces near the Griffith Park Zoo. The coroner says the bite marks have traces of human and animal saliva. The cops go crazy. Jack's newspaper proclaims a monster's in town. The good citizens of LA lock their doors and windows and clamor for answers.
Jack is determined to provide them. He hears a rumor about something called a der Katzenjunge. Translation? A European myth about men with the mutant ability to temporarily transmogrify into a savage, feline-like creature. What the hell would a crackpot story like that have to do with Thrill Girl, he wonders?
Quite a lot, actually.
Thrill Girl's noir plot examines the vibe of the decade of the 1950s - a time historians refer to as the "Age of Anxiety." This post-Atomic era predates the upheaval of the 1960s, but the seeds of the turmoil to come started in the years after WWII. Sexual and racial roles, upended by war, rapidly evolved in ways many found difficult to fathom. For the first time, there was a widespread need for, and availability of, mood-altering prescription drugs. Scientific advances accumulated at a rate most could not fathom, and the military-industrial complex was beginning to assume a powerful influence over the government.
As Jack says, "It's as if there's an earthquake shaking all the time. Life isn't in any way the same as it was before the war."
When he uncovers a plot involving the evilest type of medical research and experimentation, Jack finally understands the dark heart of the Maxwell family's secrets. The ramifications of these secrets drive the crimes he is investigating, and much, much more. On a frenetic night racked by murder, revenge-fueled confrontation, and the betrayal of those he trusted most, a shocking twist of plot leaves Jack with only two questions.
What will he, and what can he do to get the true story of Thrill Girl out into the open?