A Killer's Kiss
by William Lashner
Review by Ernest Lilley
William Morrow Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061143465
Date: 01 September 2007 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: William Lashner's Website / Show Official Info /
When the cops invite themselves into Victor Carl's apartment in the middle of the night, they're not stopping by for a social call, but to find out what he knows about the murder of an ex-girlfriend's husband. Victor's got friends though, one a police detective on the way up and the another in the DA's office. So they're polite, or as polite as pit bulls get. They don't even give him too hard a time when the signs point to someone else being in the apartment. The someone else is Julia, the ex-girlfriend, who has wormed her way back into Victor's life. Now, knowing human nature, at least what passes for it in noir detective stories, and the title of the book, we're more than ready to believe that Julia killed her husband and is using Victor as an alibi, or to get her off, or as a fall guy.
Victor's no sap, except of course when it comes to the kind of desperate, fatal kind of love that a beautiful woman like Julia brings out in men.
Victor Carl was first introduced in Hostile Witness (1995) and by all accounts he's been sliding downhill ever since. Here we find him without his partner, who's off on sabbatical, and he's foundering without a moral compass or much of a caseload. Hell of a time for Julia to suck him back into her vortex.
As things develop, it turns out that the cops like Victor all right, but they like him for the murder. But that's not all people like Victor for. Julia's husband was involved with the Russian mob which for various reasons has decided that our boy has their money. So he's popular, but with all the wrong people.
Unraveling the murder, staying alive, and dealing with his feelings for Julia
"The taste of her made me stupid, and the more I tasted, the stupider I wanted to become."keeps our boy busy through the novel, and though he's a bit shopworn and his ethics are a bit flexible, he's easy to connect to. So we want him to come out OK a the other end. Not that we have much hope for the outcome of this second chance at romance.
William Lasher's dialog is everything you could ask for in a noir novel, even if lawyers aren't my favorite lead characters for mysteries. Victor's instincts are to do right by people, but a lawyer's right is always a little less fixed than other peoples.
All in all, A Killer's Kiss is a great read. Twisty, full of damaged people trying to fix themselves, and eloquently written.