Kiss Them Goodbye
Stella Cameron revisits the small town of Toussaint, Louisiana in her latest, a place so crime-ridden one can’t help but wonder why the residents bother to stick around. As I read this tale, I tried my hardest to find more than the most minute redeeming qualities, but the task was beyond me.
As the book opens, Louis Martin, attorney to the late David Patin, is on his way to visit Patin’s widow Charlotte and daughter Vivian. Though the two have inherited Rosebank, a large and once-gracious home from another relative, David’s death has left the two nearly penniless. Supposedly Martin holds the key that will change all that and allow the mother and daughter to realize their dream of restoring Rosebank and opening a hotel there.
Unfortunately, the Patins will never get that news because Martin is brutally murdered on his way to their home. From that point on, Vivian and her mother try their best to say safe while an unpleasant detective and a supposedly much more palatable Deputy Sheriff Spike Devol try to solve that crime and a steadily mounting number of others. Of course, in the midst of the mayhem, Spike and Vivian find themselves drawn to one another and decide to explore the romantic possibilities in between murders and police interrogations.
Quite frankly, this book was such a mess that it’s difficult to know where to begin. From the suspense plot that never fully gets wrapped up to the unappetizing characters, skanky sex, and the unnecessary, downright icky incest subplot, I found it hard to plow through this book. Though the suspense plot centers around Martin’s murder, other events from the past are drawn into the story and never explained to the reader. Perhaps other books by Cameron clear up some of the mysterious goings-on (it seems not only a sequel to Cold Day in July but connected to French Quarter as well – at least), but for those who have not read any of her other works, the book will likely remain a mystery even after it’s over.
Then there are the characters. Vivian is not terribly interesting, but not too awful either – she’s simply a nice enough person who happens to be stuck in the middle of an unappealing story. Spike, on the other hand, is an alpha male gone amuck. He doesn’t want to get close to a woman (for reasons that are not really explained), but he can’t help jumping in bed with Vivian every chance he gets. On top of all this, when he states his views on women – “They never get it through their heads, women that is, that men have heavy stuff on their minds and can’t always be wondering about what the women in their lives want them to think about” – one can’t imagine what Vivian sees in him.
The secondary characters seem to be a mixed bag. Some of them are probably characters from previous novels who serve no purpose other than to remind the reader that they are living happily ever after, the obligatory voodoo/medium/supernatural element, and the local priest who doesn’t seem to want anything more than to get Spike and Vivian married within days of their meeting. Many of the townspeople featured in this book seemed to be relatively interesting, but there are just too many for the reader to remember.
On top of all this, the author also adds a decidedly nasty incest subplot that does nothing to move the story along. The participants do serve a minor role in the story, but their distasteful home activities have little to do with the actual mystery and could easily have been left out of the story. Actually, much of the sex in this story seemed gratuitous rather than necessary to the development of the characters’ relationship. The fact that Vivian and Spike seemed more concerned with going to bed than with being safe from the killer made their relationship seem almost unbelievable. Call me crazy, but if I had just found a dead man in my yard and then found myself in the middle of an explosion of violence in my little town, that might not be the week for me to discover – and have lots of wild jungle sex with – my soulmate for life.
Louisiana can be an interesting setting. It’s a place with a unique heritage and culture, and this book simply does not do it justice. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to read this book based on my experience with it, but if you insist, save your money and wait for the paperback.