The Vagabond Virgins
A Hickey Family Mystery by Ken Kuhlken
Review: Ken Kuhlken's fifth mystery in the Hickey family series, The Vagabond Virgins, focuses on Alvaro Hickey, a San Diego private investigator who is hired to locate a woman posing as the Virgin Mary who is traveling the countryside with a very specific message to the faithful: vote the current government in Mexico out of power.
The woman who hires Alvaro is the Virgin's sister, Lourdes Garcia. When presented with a drawing of the Virgin, as personified by Lupe Garcia, Alvaro notes that Lourdes bears a striking resemblance between the two women. Could it be that Lupe doesn't exist and that Lourdes and Lupe are one and the same? Notwithstanding the million dollars in gold that Lourdes has smuggled across the border, Alvaro agrees to help her and begins a journey fraught with danger through Baja California in search of the Virgin Mary.
It would be inaccurate to state that not much happens in The Vagabond Virgins. There is a subtle sort of suspense that builds as the story progresses and there's certainly a fair amount of concentrated action. In the end, though, it seems as if there isn't much substance here. In this regard, it's rather disappointing because there are parts of the book that are really quite well done.
Topping this list is the character of Alvaro Hickey. His motives for taking on this case are complicated and are continually explored as he gets further into the search. He doesn't necessarily believe his client who is caught telling several lies but he's intrigued by her story. The mysterious man following them is unknown to Alvaro yet he instinctively knows he needs to keep one step ahead. There are other points as well that are noteworthy including a variation on the look-alikes that switch places to fool everyone, a scene every reader predicts will happen and is delighted nonetheless when it does.
But as a mystery, The Vagabond Virgins does not have a really compelling plot. To its credit, however, the story's narrative is very well done and it's populated with an interesting cast of characters.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The Vagabond Virgins.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of The Vagabond Virgins for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Vagabond Virgins: San Diego, California, Baja California
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The Vagabond Virgins by Ken Kuhlken — A Hickey Family Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: February 2008
List Price: $24.95