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The Kept Girl

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  115 ratings  ·  31 reviews
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 ideali ...more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published February 1st 2014 by Esotouric Ink (first published January 31st 2014)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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Audra (Unabridged Chick)
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.  T
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Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
During the first few decades of the twentieth century, Los Angeles had more than its share of medical and/or religious celebrities who offered their worshipful followers a cure for ailments both physical and mental. In her first novel, Kim Cooper, who has made a career out of sharing her knowledge of the more bizarre episodes in local history on her Esotouric bus tours, focuses on one such Southern California cult of the 1920s: the Great Eleven.

Run by a mother-daughter team, the Great Eleven use
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"The Kept Girl" is a great Los Angeles Noir read, at a time when I was desiring a need to get into my city's murky history. A work of fiction but based on a real series of incidents, and of course, involves a cult of sorts. Author Kim Cooper is a Los Angeles pop history fanatic, and has a real feel for the location and its characters. One of her 'real' characters is Raymond Chandler when he was in the oil business. Actually one of the heroes, which includes Chandler's secretary/mistress and a go ...more
Cathy Geha
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Having grown up in Los Angeles I loved reading descriptions of how the city used to be when there were more orange groves and cattle farms than tall buildings. The fact that this story is based in fact had me trying to find out more facts that the book was based on. Kim Cooper made the characters in the book come alive. I felt I knew them well and though I did not like some of them I understood them and understood why they behaved as they did. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the style it was w ...more
Benjamin Thomas
1929 Los Angeles is a fantastic setting for a noir-style crime novel, especially when Raymond Chandler, in his historically accurate role as an oil company executive is one of the main characters. Along with cop Tom James, likely the real-life model for Philip Marlowe, the pair investigate a quasi-religious cult suspected of bilking thousands of dollars off of unwary fools. The writing is high quality and leans toward the “literary” style more than the “hard-boiled PI” style and the pages defini ...more
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Kim has done an excellent job of conjuring up 1929 Los Angeles and its denizens, including Raymond Chandler, his cop friend Tom, plucky secretary Muriel, and the various weirdos that made up the cult.

I wish there had been a bit more detail about the cult's activities. You know, the dancing naked in the moonlight bits and such. Such salacious detail, but we mostly got to hear people talking about them, instead of Tom or Muriel or someone stumbling upon the weirdness in progress and getting to se
Martin Turnbull
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
The thing about historical fiction is that in order for it to work, a reader has to have confidence in the authority of the author. I read a lot of historical fiction and my enjoyment always comes down to how well the author reconstructs a particular time and place. I put Kim Cooper at the top of that list. The gal sure knows her L.A. history, but I knew that already. What I didn’t know is how well she can turn a phrase and render a description that’s both accurate to the era and a pleasure to r ...more
Kathleen George
Jun 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Hmmm, sometimes wonderful, sometimes frustrating. I think there is an inherent danger in writing about a real case in a fictional way. Some details don't serve the story while others do. The problem is similar to one of autobiography--what really fits and what doesn't. Transitions are frustrating, the feel of the language of the time is wonderful. I almost wish the book had been delayed for a year and put through another editing. Still, I'm glad I read it and I got a wonderful sense of the write ...more
Laura Ruetz
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book overall. I liked the crime aspect and the way it was paced and the character interactions. The characters of Ruthie and May were certainly well done as was Murial. The author has an eye for characterization and how to bring to alive on the page. The first chapter or so didn't really hook me, it was after the second chapter that I really got into the book. ...more
Rae Anne Robinett
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hot DAMN, Ms. Cooper can weave tale about Los Angeles! Great read - devoured it in a day. If you’ve ever got on the Esotouric tour bus with Kim Cooper, this book is a must read. If you’ve never taken the ride, this book will plant the seed of curiosity.
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
More of a 3 star book but giving it a bonus star for being set in old LA.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and unsettling story that delivers a deep sense of place.
Sep 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Terrible. Thin and choppy, poorly written and unconvincing. DNF. So disappointing, because the scenario sounded so interesting. Better to spend the time re-reading Chandler for real.
Sep 14, 2020 rated it liked it
fun story
Hamilton Ratings
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Kept Girl is hard to set aside once you start!
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Kept Girl
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 o
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've been a long-time fan of Raymond Chandler specifically and historical LA noir in general, and Kim Cooper's evocation of both is a real treat. While the book does not have Chandler's boldly poetic phrasing, Cooper does capture the essence of those stories of deeply flawed people trying to do the right thing. I hasten to add this is not meant to be a pastiche -- The Kept Girl is a creditable effort at a mystery novel set in 1929 Los Angeles. It is not a perfect book (there are a few parts that ...more
Anna Janelle
I recently received this advanced copy edition through the Members Giveaway section at LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

This novel, part historical fiction, part true crime, was a quick, easy read. Centered around oil executive Raymond Chandler and fallen policeman Tom Jones (his presumed inspiration for fictional detective Phillip Marlowe), "The Kept Girl" pits these men and Chandler's faithful secretary Muriel Fischer against a pair of scheming mother-daughter con-artist team res
Samuel Fort
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Kim Cooper's book is a fictionalized account of the activities of a very real California cult, "The Divine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven." The cult, which was based in Los Angeles and the Simi Valley, reached its apex in the late 1920s. In 1929, some of its more nefarious activities (kidnapping, murder, human sacrifice, pseudo-occult rituals, etc.) made headlines, thrusting its founder, May Otis Blackburn, into the limelight. Unfortunately, reports of the cult's sins were fragmenta

Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 par
Jan 31, 2014 rated it liked it
The Kept Girl is a fun quick reading mystery. Written in the old Raymond Chandler,noir mystery style, this novel features Raymond Chandler, as he was in real life, an oil company executive working for Dabney Oil Company. When the company owner's nephew gets into financial trouble Chandler is sent to investigate. He is the hard boiled detective that he will later create in his own mystery novels. Based on a true case of a religious cult and it's murder spree in the name of spirituality that happe ...more
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Having toured Los Angeles with a group of history teachers a few years ago through a Teaching American History (TAH) grant, I could truly appreciate the Los Angeles of the 1920s described in this book. I am not sure if the back story of Raymond Chandler's early life rendered here is accurate, but it made for a fascinating read. The author perfectly captured his style and the film noir feel of the detective novels written by Chandler and others in that genre. Add to that the fascinating Angel cul ...more
So, yeah, especially at first, I definitely read this in noir-voice.

I didn't know going in that this was based around something that actually happened (the Blackburn Cult). One assumes that Raymond Chandler may not have been involved (not that the author claims otherwise).

Anyway, it was an entertaining (if rather short) read. I picked it up from the Kindle Prime Lending Library thing (there really isn't a lot there worth checking out [with the possible exception, I guess, of like Harry Potter an
Mahree Moyle
Mar 21, 2014 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Competently written, but this book takes an interesting premise (two of the main characters are "Ray" Chandler and the cop who supposedly inspires his Philip Marlowe stories) and completely wastes it. Chandler's presence adds nothing to the novel, and the novel adds nothing to our understanding of the Philip Marlowe novels.

Also, this is not that important I guess, but the typeface is distractingly terrible.
Jay Hinman
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really fun and straightforward neo-noir about a ridiculous 1920s-era angel-worshipping Los Angeles cult and the detectives poking around after them. Some of it is even true. Thoroughly enjoyable and remarkably free from vulgarity and violence, making it almost read like a "code"-era noir film. Recommended. ...more
Even though this isn't the genre I usually read, I appreciated the author's skill in creating a hard-boiled or noir narrative, and thus gave it four stars. The characterization was good as was the pace of the story. I didn't realize until the end of the book that the story was partially based upon an actual crime.

I received an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my opinion.
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Compelling Los Angeles noir fiction based on historic personages including Raymond Chandler. Author Kim Cooper is a contemporary authority on Los Angeles in the period and the work represents this. I found the policeman and the secretary to be particularly sympathetic. A fun and fast read!
Jul 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Takes a little while to get used to the heavy noir voice of the novel, but once you get past that point, it's great. I think I would have been more engaged with it if I knew more about LA and its history. ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great account of pre-depression Los Angeles told as a detective novel rather than a straight non-fiction history. It reminds me somewhat of what Caleb Carr did with turn-of-the-century New York in The Alienist, using fiction to describe a real place in vivid detail.
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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 ...more

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