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Sunday, February 04, 2018

Kiss the Devil Goodnight

When I first heard of Kiss the Devil Goodnight, I was excited by the great title and the settings--Florida and Mexico, two of my favorite noir places, and the McGuffin is a suitcase that once belonged to William S. Burroughs. The book was hard to find, with used copies going for well over fifty dollars. Finally it became available on Kindle. I would have been very angry if I spent that much money on it. It's pretty bad.

Written by Jonathan Woods, Kiss the Devil Goodnight feels like a book written by a perspicacious teenager. It's about a guy named Bill Derringer, who has all the qualities a teenage boy might want--he's tough, he's attractive to women, and he even went to Yale. He also has an adolescent attitude toward sex.

He was trained as an expert in hand-to-hand combat by the Army. He is married to Edie, with two kids. One day she says they need an adventure and go to Orlando to watch a trial (which sounds like the Casey Anthony trial). They stay with her Aunt Ida, who is a lot hotter than the name suggests. She gets them involved in robbing a gun convention. Bill gets caught, and finds out his wife and Aunt Ida have been having a lesbian affair.

He gets sentenced to jail, is paroled, and swears vengeance on Ida. He teams up with a floozy he meets at a halfway house and heads to Mexico (not before finding out his now grown daughter is a stripper, of course). He finds Ida, but in a ludicrous conclusion that involves a woman trying to resurrect her dead Nazi grandfather.

Somewhere in there is a decent noir story, but Woods just can't write very well. He has some very tortured metaphors: "I had as much appetite as a boa constrictor that, while warming himself on the tarmac, had been run over by an freight truck." And Woods write sex scenes that are very juvenile. They sound like bad Penthouse Letters (and I've written hundreds of those). I mean, "I grabbed that snatch"? One should never use the word snatch as a reference to female genitalia. Never.

But beyond that, the writing is amateurish. Consider this gem: "A warning flare burst aloft in my head. An image of the great white in Jaws rose out of the deep waters of my id. Aunt Ida was mucho dangerous!" Hoo boy.

So I'm glad I didn't waste too much money on this. When I read books like this I get a little depressed, wondering how he gets it published when I can't. I know I can write a better book than this (and have).

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