Review: Louise Phillips – Last Kiss

Last Kiss 5The great thing about the crime fiction genre is the breadth of styles that it encompasses. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve read books that focus on the domestic, dark noir tales and political thrillers. But some crime novels can be truly creepy and Louise Phillips’s Last Kiss reminds us how scary stories can get. She’s a writer who is completely new to me. However, I wanted to read some Irish crime fiction and her books have been garnering rave reviews.

In a Dublin hotel room, a man is found butchered with a knife and his body arranged in a form similar to the hangman in tarot. Criminal psychologist, Dr Kate Pearson is asked to help investigate the murder and she discovers disturbing links with similar killings both inside and outside Ireland. Cassandra is a murderer who, with one exception, kills only men. However, her latest sexual conquest, Edgar, is someone special and she intends to keep hold of him, even if it entails entering his domestic life.

Standalone thrillers work well because there is a feeling that anything could happen. There is no need to hold onto characters for sequels and there’s a sense of completion at the end of the books. The character of the killer dominates the narrative and there’s a strong sense of menace from the start. The suspicions of her new sexual conquest’s wife, Sandra, make difficult reading at times. She is being manipulated but also has the strength of character to fight back.

With the criminal psychologist, Kate Pearson, we are on more traditional crime fiction territory but the presence of the tarot cards in the victims’ mouths adds an unusual twist. Last Kiss isn’t a book for the faint-hearted but it is lovely and creepy and it’s nice to read something out of the ordinary.

Thanks to Hachette Ireland for my review copy.