Monday, March 14, 2011

Review - A Cold Kiss by John Rector

Sometimes, the old stuff is just better. It works; it's reliable. For instance, I don't care how good the new True Grit or Star Trek reboots are, they aren't as comfortable or nice as the originals. Sure, Jeff Bridges and the little girl got nominated for Oscars. And the new Captain Kirk is actually a heartthrob as opposed to William Shatner who was loved by women only in his own mind. But the originals were just better. Period. The new stuff is good, very good in some cases. But it's still new and will never be the originals.

John Rector's tremendous debut novel The Cold Kiss (which really isn't a debut because The Grove was self-published on Kindle before it was en vogue to do so and now out in print on Amazonencore) relies on a lot of original, old ideas and plot twists, but he uses them in good ways and builds this foundation on the best type of ground there is to create a tremendous story. There's the couple running from their pasts, the money they find, the dead guy who... well, you get the point. I don't want to ruin it for you. Let's just say there's a lot of thriller and suspense hallmarks in the novel. And they all work.

The foundation I spoke out that Rector builds this novel on is the best one he could have possibly chosen. Remember the Biblical story about the guy who built on sand and the guy who built on rock? Rector constructs The Cold Kiss on the most solid form of rock a writer can use: damn good writing. I'll give you a for instance from the end of Chapter 3. Nate and his fiancée Sara have just decided to pick up a sketchy looking hitchhiker and Nate is unsure about it:

Sara shushed me.
"Kiss me," she said.
"I'm being serious."
"So am I," she said. "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.
See how that happened? It's the end of the chapter, you already know you're reading a suspense/thriller, so you're expecting chills and, to quote a review of the novel, "something bad to happen." But by ending the chapter with that sense of foreboding, Rector has sucked you in for one more chapter. And pretty soon, you're spending another hour wrapped up in Nate and Sara's misadventures. The book is full of instances like this both at the beginning, middle and end of darn near every chapter.

Some reviewers pointed out that the ending is a little too convenient, or that it doesn't tie things up well. I don't think so at all. It works for the story, and it works for modern entertainment. Um, I'm sorry, not everything in life is wrapped up in a nice little bow. Our literature and television and movies should reflect real life, so sometimes you have to (GASP!) think a little bit and be creative. The writer doesn't have to do all the work. Sometimes you have to do some as well. And that's a good thing.

Bravo to John Rector for a great read. It's pure escapism, pure fun and as I pointed out before, built on a foundation of outstanding writing. I highly recommend it.

Rector's newest book, Already Gone, comes out in October.

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