|Will Christopher Baer’s Kiss Me, Judas|
Have you ever loved someone who’s mortally wounded you? Phineas Poe, disgraced cop and morphine addict, has just been released from a psych ward when he meets a beautiful woman named Jude in a hotel bar. Red dress, black hair, body like a knife. He takes her back to his room and wakes the next morning in a bathtub full of blood and ice, missing a kidney. Dragging himself from a hospital bed, Phineas discovers he wants to be with Jude like a hunger and he wants to find her and kill her. Falling for her is the start of a twisted love story that takes him from the snowy streets of Denver to the high plains of Texas where the boundaries between torturer and victim, killer and accomplice, become nightmarishly distorted.
Recommended to me both by my buddy, Matty as well as the good folks over at The Cult, I had high hopes for the first of Baer’s “Poe” trilogy. Written in the style of a good Quentin Tarintino film, Baer jumps around from past to present so fluidly that it forces you to constantly pay attention. His knack for tying the events that shaped the current state of the books protagonist, Phineaus Poe, to his current mindset is impeccable. You really believed that he was slowly unraveling at the seams. Of course, as in a Tarintino film, the dialogue and the violence are all very stylistic – leads to excellent and addictive narration.
Baer’s female lead, the reason for Poe’s current situation, Jude, is one of the stronger female leads I’ve had the pleasure of reading. His descriptions of her really play into why Poe is head over heels for this woman – despite her actions. The majority of the supporting characters are integral to the books progression; you really get the feeling that Baer eliminated any and all filler. The novel is tightly structured and you never get the impression that Baer is out to create an epic for the sake of creating an epic.