Brought to you by OBS reviewer Scott
It seems that as much as we deny it, secrets, overt and suppressed, follow close behind. Such is very much the case over the course of two years in the sleepy town of Kingdom Come, CA., population 974 (at last census), in which Judy Strick weaves a painfully endearing slice of life piece. Elegantly written and full of descriptive prose, Kingdom Come, CA., depicts the two year turning point in the life of a reclusive painter, whose secrets are tied almost intangibly with a 6 year old child, whose own past links to hers in bizarre synchronicity.
Although listed as a psychological thriller, Kingdom Come, CA. came across to me more of a character study; a good character study at that. Not heavy in the way of plot, the novel wends its way through the ups, downs, tears, fears, hopes and pains of the chief inhabitants of this sleepy little town nestled in Nowhere, USA, somewhere outside of the busy life of L.A., which our painter wants desperately to avoid. The “hotspots” of the rural town are a diner, a market, and Luanne’s the bar in which many a margarita is had (and had me craving for one, but I settled on the whiskey instead).
Painting is the major motif here. As the book is painted in concrete language, the surrealistic artist’s latest piece becomes the crux of the story. The starting of the painting heralds in new neighbors, a slightly (these days) dysfunctional family with the enchanting 6 year old, who bleeds wet into wet into her painting, The finishing of the painting signals the endgame in which the characters undergo their respective epiphanies, and the recluse comes full circle, with new hope and direction. The painting itself thematically binds the unreal to the real, the letting go, and giving in to unconscious thought. Those looking for a fast paced ride are in for a shock, as the pacing meanders slowly, ever winding its way to the conclusion.
Not that the book was written without thought or reasoning, however. In fact, it deals delicately with the baring and cleansing of the inner self, the expurgation of the soul through the release of secrets, no matter the cost – even sanity. How the characters ultimately deal with their personal issues is cleverly mirrored in the outcomes of the painter’s and her neighbor’s individual tragedies. Well rounded characters populate the book, some more than others, and it’s a real treat to read such personable figures; their trials and tribulations across a landscape as surreal as the paintings depicted.
Overall, Kingdom Come, CA., is in the end, a tremendously satisfying read. If you enjoy proactive character driven novels, character studies or are into almost surreal stories, then I would whole heartedly recommend this book to you.
*OBS would like to thank the author for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*