"A clear new voice offering a startling, memorable debut. In this psychological thriller, a reclusive artist opens up to her new neighbors with life-changing consequences... In her debut, Strick successfully writes with the confidence of a seasoned author. Her prose is often striking… the narrative’s emotional layers grow increasingly complex;…characters…achieve beautiful realization… it is executed masterfully…"

From Kirkus Reviews

"KINGDOM COME, CA is an astonishingly fine book - and the fact that it is a debut novel makes its appearance all the more important. Judy Strick not only knows how to write a mesmerizing story, but she also knows the climate - physical as well as psychological - of her home, Southern California… Writing of this fascinating quality comes around too rarely. Catch it at it's nascent best… Highly Recommended."

by Grady Harp

"One of the best reads that has come my way in a long time. Kingdom Come, CA will almost blind-side you with a surprise ending. Superbly crafted, hugely enjoyable read!...Two thumbs up!"

by Grandma, Amazon Reviewer

"The characters, the setting, the writing all pulled me towards the end too quickly. The Southern California setting was dead-on and even the incidental details were perfect. But the characters are what really made this story for me. … I couldn't put it down. Hard to believe it was a debut novel. I only hope the author can be as prolific as John Irving."

by Katherine R Brandon

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Impressive Debut! Moody and Haunting Suspense Mystery

Hard to believe this is Strick's first work. It's a self-assured, perfectly paced debut, slowly unfolding and tying up the reader as the book's suspenseful plot unwinds. The characters are unique and well drawn, and the voices are clear and memorable. If you're looking for a terrific read with high aspirations, you'll be hard pressed to find a better choice.

— Monagal

An Outstanding Debut

Wow. Terrific book. I only have one complaint, but I'll save that for last. First, let me tell you some of the things I like about it.

The setting- Want to take a trip to California? Beautifully written descriptions make everything from the landscape and architecture, to the flora and fauna, to the changing weather, santa ana winds and threat of wildfire so real and recognizable, it's almost like being there. Readers will easily relate to every setting, and feel right at home.

The characters- Top notch. Matter of fact, I think this is the book's strongest suit. It has an excellent cast of characters, but my favorite is the troubled boy Finn. Once you've met him, you may never forget him. Matter of fact, you'll remember quite a few of the characters.

The plot- Um, wait a minute. On second thought, maybe THIS is the book's strongest suit. The story starts out with a happy family outing that ends in tragedy: the death of a child. So much for the happy. In fact, so much for the family, because it essentially implodes under the weight of denial and dysfunction. Years later, grown daughter Ruby withdraws to live in a secluded home in an off-the-beaten-path town, where she can do her surrealistic paintings in peace, and continue to hide the secrets of her past. Then Finn's family has the audacity to build a home across the street from her. So much for her seclusion and peace. She and the usually non-communicative little boy forge an almost immediate connection, and the story of how their dark secrets intersect proves to be as surreal as her paintings.

What's wrong with the book? Do you really want to know? Okay, here it is. The only thing wrong with this book is... I didn't write it. (Damn it.) Really. It's a terrific book. This is the author's first book, but I certainly hope it isn't her last.

— Susan Flett Swiderski

Best I've read in a long while!

I love this book. It is so well written that I felt as if the author was telling her own story. The plot moves along at a perfect pace. I found myself reading slowly just so that I could savor the story. It's primarily narrative, which is usually not my favorite, but she is not overly descriptive, just perfect. The story hints at more mysterious things to come, so you are constantly intrigued and never disappointed. Well worth your time. It seems as if the main character Ruby accepts the imaginary as reality. She seems nonchalant to me and at times I wish she was more opinionated and expressive. However, it might have been her internal world that held her back. It would be a great book to discuss!

— Gail Matelson "Metaphysical Mystery Writer"

Kingdom Come, CA pulled me into the story as soon as I picked up the book. Thoroughly enjoying the thrill and mystery as we delved into the turmoil of the characters lives, kept me reading late into the night not wanting to put the book down. I definitely will be looking for more books written by Judy Strick.

— Lynn Davis

Like Rudy, I'd trade it all in for standing in the middle of nowhere!

Judy Strick outdid herself on this one. I laughed at the author's descriptions of the crazies in L.A. I cried over an accident that scared a family both physically and emotionally. I identified with Ruby's fear of crowds, smelly-smells, and the madness of city living overall. Like Rudy, I'd trade it all in for standing in my own meadow, in the middle of nowhere. B

This psychological thriller isn't a horror story in any traditional sense, and you can't easily predict what's going to happen next. It's not sic-fi or fantasy either. Some strange stuff happens, stuff that sent chills tingling up and down my spine. The Wizard and the town's herb trader got a bit weird.

What I found gripping is how true to life the story is for many people. Judy's characters are products of a polished environment. The family is near perfect, everything is planned to the tee. Then something goes wrong and changes the whole dynamic down to the simple details. Imagine wanting nothing more than to ride a Ferris Wheel and that simple thing becomes the bane of a dream that haunts you. Just when you think you have it all figured out ... Boom! An unexpected ending hits you dead in the face! This is the magic of the story.

It's a really good read. Just make sure that you properly stock your nightstand with everything you need (tissues, snacks, water, etc.) because if you're anything like me, once you start reading you're not going to want to put the book down for minor details. There isn't much to dislike about the book. If you find something, let me know. In the meantime, I highly recommend this read!

— By ReviewWriter (VA)

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.

— Brought to you by OBS reviewer Scott


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