Kiss Her Goodbye
Kiss Her Goodbye by Susan Gee is one of those books that starts off with a bang and doesn’t let up until the last page has been turned. I picked it up one night before bed, and it was all I could do to put it down at a semi-reasonable hour so I could get some sleep. In short, it’s just the thing for fans of twisty psychological thrillers.
Seventeen-year-old Hayley Reynolds feels like an outsider in pretty much every aspect of her life. She’s ridiculed at school, and her mother is too wrapped up in her new boyfriend to pay much attention to Hayley’s wants or needs. Fortunately, Hayley has found a true friend in Kirsten Green, one of the more popular girls at school, and she’s managed to convince herself that life will soon start to look up for her.
When Kirsten snubs her, Hayley is filled with a mixture of fury and self-loathing. She can’t understand why her one and only friend turned against her, but she’s determined not to let it happen again. To this end, she arranges to meet Kirsten in an out-of-the-way spot, where the two girls can supposedly talk and sort out their differences. Moments later, Hayley heads for home, and Kirsten is never heard from again.
Detective Inspector Beverley Samuels can’t figure out what to make of the body that washes up on the bank of a local river. Kirsten Green was reported missing, but Beverley and her superiors were pretty sure she’d just run away and would return of her own accord before too long. Now though, Beverley is being forced to reconsider everything she thought she knew about this case, for it seems that someone is playing a very dangerous game, and it’s up to Beverley to put a stop to it before another victim is claimed.
Unfortunately, Beverley isn’t operating at the top of her game. She’s still reeling from a recent case that went horribly wrong, and no matter how hard she tries to keep the Green investigation in some kind of perspective, she is continually haunted by her fears of letting down another young girl. Her partner urges her time and time again to seek professional help, but Beverley is unable to heed his warnings. Soon, her investigation into Kirsten’s death is consuming her every waking hour, and she’s at risk of losing her job and perhaps her life.
We know right from the start who is responsible for Kirsten’s death, but of course, Beverley isn’t privy to this information. Often times, this kind of set-up falls flat for me, and I find myself growing bored pretty early on, but this wasn’t at all the case here. Hayley and Beverley are engaged in a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse, and I loved watching Beverley struggle to piece together what really happened to Kirsten while Hayley tries desperately to stay one step ahead of her.
I was intrigued by Hayley from the start. She’s not a likable character, but she is someone I couldn’t help but feel sorry for. It’s obvious she just wants to be loved, valued, and understood, but no one is able to give her what she needs. Obviously, none of this justifies her actions, but knowing what motivated her did help me understand why she acted in such a reprehensible manner.
Beverley is also quite fascinating, but I did find myself growing frustrated by some of her behavior. She seemed incapable of learning from her past mistakes, and I got tired of watching her get herself into trouble time and time again. I wanted her to move on from the past and start focusing on her future, but it took her quite a while to start moving in a positive direction. Even so, I found her dedication to her job to be admirable, even if she didn’t always make the best choices.
If you’re looking for a creepy read to keep you company as the days get shorter, you could do far worse than Kiss Her Goodbye. It’s a story that’s sure to remain with me for a long time to come, and, for me, that’s the mark of an author who really knows her craft.