Henry Tyler is an extremely troubled private investigator in San Francisco. Between the seediness of his career, personality differences between his brother (an uptight lawyer who puts his career before all else), and an unhealthy obsession with his brother's Korean wife, Tyler is in the wrong place at the wrong time when he takes on a job to find the "Queen of Prostitutes." His employer's questionable motives, but deep pockets, keep Tyler pushing on the job until he continues his search for the Queen long after his employer has called off the job.
The search takes Tyler even further into a world of questionable, tenuous loyalties and relationships between the Queen and her retinue of whores, drug dealers and associated perverts. His persistence, obsession and a deep-seated need for emotional attachment leave him all too emotionally vulnerable to avoid establishing his own position in this group.
Vollmann addresses an enormous range of social issues in The Royal Family, from the tenuously defined needs for acceptance and belonging to extremely detailed portrayals of more concrete and easily defined social ills, such as poverty, prostitution, and drug addiction. At nearly 800 pages, this book makes its points in great detail.
This report prepared by Teague Clare