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440-page 6.25" x 9.25" hardcover • $35.00
Joe Krueger has felt out of sorts his entire life. Sheltered by artistic parents and shipped off to harrowing New Guinea with the Army Air Corps during World War II, he's never seemed to find his place in the world. Then one rainy evening, after a long drive down the north coast of California, he stops at a boardinghouse and meets sweet and sexy Ida Macauley, who rents him a room. Later that very night, Ida tells him "Mother" and "Father" have run their Ford over a cliff, then seduces him in the teary aftermath. Smitten now, Joe starts helping out around the boardinghouse, and the two marry. The honeymoon is over when a shocking series of events force the Kruegers down to San Francisco, where Ida is injured in a fluke traffic accident. Soon enough, insurance investigators have chased them out of the city to another town, where Ida schemes to swindle a motel owner out of her property. Next, the motel owner and her crippled husband are missing, a water softener salesman is shot, and workmen are digging holes in Joe Krueger's basement.
Inspired by the true story of Iva Kroeger and her husband Ralph, indicted for the murders of Mildred and Jay Arneson in 1962, Naughty culminates in a sensational trial that captivated the Bay area for half a year. At last, Ida, whose crimes and outrageous antics seem finally to have caught up with her, is at her zenith, pleading insanity and doing her best to make a farce of the courtroom. Naughty explores exactly what happens when a pretty, yet darkly sociopathic young woman is unleashed in our midst, leaving a trail of hapless victims in her wake.
Schulz shifts gears from his recent Jazz Age Trilogy to offer up a crime noir novel in the James M. Cain tradition, a startling tale of love, deceit, and insanity, and how our lives are too often directed by the inexplicable vagaries of fate. Imagine the pathology laid bare in Don Delillo's Libra fused with the sordid and desperate criminality of Jim Thompson's The Getaway and the black humor of Bruce Jay Friedman. Naughty is a stunningly authentic ride back into Eisenhower's america, where things were apparently not quite as breezy as they seemed.