A hardboiled L.A. noir novel

In this suspenseful historical novel, an Okie ice man and a radical Jewish union organizer pull an ill-advised heist on an oil scam artist in 1938 Los Angeles.

Donovan Daley is a Dust Bowl Okie working as an ice man, with a secret nighttime avocation as a burglar of rich homes. Wanda Kitchen is a radical Jewish union organizer, in Los Angeles to repair the local garment workers union.

They have an unlikely romance.

They also both have a grudge against Charles Rucker, a big-shot Nazi sympathizer and oil swindler. They decide to steal Rucker’s ill-gotten money. But Rucker, who hates Okies and Jews, has his goons in the infamous Red Squad of the LAPD positioned to ambush them. Donovan and Wanda manage to steal the money and survive the ambush, but there’s a shootout and a siege in an abandoned hotel. Rucker is livid when the couple escape, his money with them.

The police, the Nazis and the Pinkertons scour Chinatown, Hollywood and the noir neighborhoods of thirties L.A looking for Donovan. Wanda is captured by Rucker. Distraught, Donovan desperately searches for her. There’s another shootout. Donovan escapes another ambush. But in this emotional thriller, which takes place in that tumultuous era just before World War II, tragedy strikes the couple and emphasizes the foolhardiness of their heist and their idealism.

Ice Pick is a serious novel with compelling characters who presage the social conflicts that will roil America for decades to come. Set just prior to World War II, it is steeped in ideological turmoil, institutionalized racism, technological change and the factional battle for the future identity of a great nation.

Copyright 2015 The Estate of Donnie Dale.