It's a routine assignment: tail a young woman who's suspected by her record-company boss, of selling company information. But when the subject is murdered on Simeon Grist's watch, and the "boss" turns out to be an imposter, Simeon goes after the truth. The track leads him into the upside-down world of The Church of the Eternal Moment, home to both seekers after truth and cynics seeking cash – and which has, at its center, a secret as lethal as a box of poisonous snakes. Simeon and his temporary ally, Dexter Smif, can find their way in; the problem is getting out again.
Simeon Grist, former professor of English at UCLA and fledgling L.A. private eye, makes his debut in this clever mystery. To propel his plot, Hallinan adroitly depicts a new religion with avaricious leaders, New Age channeling and an overlay of California kookiness. Televangelism, brainwashing, research into the early 19th-century diaspora of new American religions and a most unusual ally lead Grist to the denouement of this very satisfying mystery. (Publisher's Weekly)
Terrific, well-crafted, thoroughly satisfying . . . updates Raymond Chandler's vision of life in Los Angeles through Grist's sardonic, often hilarious observations . . . leaves one looking forward to Hallinan's future endeavors. (Los Angeles Herald-Tribune)
It's rare to find a first novel in the mystery genre that boasts a smoothly plotted story, crisp dialogue, and excellent characterizations . . . This exciting tale accomplishes all three . . . The book never falters, sustaining suspense and interest throughout . . . a sure winner. (Booklist)
Hallinan has a genuine ability to write effective prose, engaging repartee, sharp and witty characterizations . . . this laudable first effort could become a notable series. (The Washington Post Book World)
Wonderful . . . you gotta love a novel that starts with the hard-drinking private eye sighing about the dame he's been following. (West Coast Review of Books)
Hallinan neatly maximizes his gift for offbeat characters and clever pacing . . . Simeon Grist, the sleuth he created, is in a class by himself. (Inside Books)