Tuesday, March 31, 2015

THE COLD KISS by John Rector


Yep. This guy John Rector is the real deal. I very recently enjoyed his novella, Lost Things, and now I LOVED his second novel, The Cold Kiss. He writes the kind of thrillers that I enjoy the most: dark suspense stories featuring ordinary people caught in extraordinary situations, making decisions that cause a tragic snowball effect as they struggle to get out of what they realize is actually a lose-lose situation. Wait a minute...you could say that is the definition of noir, my favorite genre! And I would agree; this book is probably the best example of modern noir I've read since A Simple Plan, and that's saying a lot!

Newly engaged couple Nate and Sara are driving from Minnesota to Reno to get married and start a new life with their unborn child. But on the way, they pick up a hitchhiker and are forced to stop at an isolated motel to wait out a terrible snowstorm. But once they get there, they discover their hitchhiker is dead of a festering gunshot wound and with a sack full of cash money in his bags. And it's a lot of money. Definitely enough for a new family to start a good life with...

Rector ratchets up the tension as Nate and Sara try every way to make it through the next 36 hours and get away with the money scot-free. And he builds such a great atmosphere at the motel, with the constant snowfall, and lack of electricity or phone service. And as I mentioned in my review of the last book I read by him, Rector's prose is pitch-perfect. This guy really knows how to craft a plot that moves without feeling like anything's lost. Some people might be able to see some of the twists coming but I didn't care. I was taken for a ride. So f&*% it. I'm throwing an A at this book. And I'm locked in as a fan now. 

Hard Case Crime founder Charles Ardai says this about noir:
There is a feeling of dread and doom that suffuses the action; the story typically features a protagonist who's in trouble, who often doesn't deserve the trouble he's in (even if he's a bad guy, he often doesn't deserve the *particular* trouble he's in), and whose trouble just gets worse as the narrative grinds inexorably toward an unhappy -- often tragic -- ending. 

And that's a great way to describe this book. 
"Kiss me, for good luck" 
I frowned. "That doesn't work."
"Of course it does," she said. "It always works. Now kiss me."
I stared at her for a moment longer, then bent and pressed my lips against hers.
It was a good kiss.
But it didn't work.

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