Mark Terry

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Kiss Her Goodbye by Robert Gregory Browne--a review

January 23, 2007

Kiss Her Goodbye
By Robert Gregory Browne
St. Martin’s Press
Hardcover. $23.95. 304 Pages
ISBN: 0-312-35839-3
Publication: February 6, 2007

ATF Agent Jack Donovan has been hunting cult leader Alex Gunderson for years, but never been able to gain traction enough to put him behind bars. When Gunderson and his inner circle—including his pregnant wife—knock off a bank, which turns into a hostage situation, Donovan’s sure he’s got Gunderson for good. But Gunderson’s plan is more intricate than a simple bank job—he’s made plans for escape.

The escape, however, doesn’t go quite as well as Gunderson hoped, and his wife Sara is wounded and ends up near death in a coma. Most of his team is captured, while he slips free. And Gunderson knows who’s behind this fall from grace—ATF Agent Jack Donovan.

Gunderson hatches a plot to hurt Donovan where he lives—he kidnaps Jessie, Donovan's teenage daughter. In retaliation for Sara, Gunderson then buried Jessie in a vault with only 48 hours worth of air. While Donovan and his team is attempting to capture Gunderson, the cult leader is killed--Gunderson was the only one who knew where Jessie was buried.

Donovan is a compelling character, a tough cop who is attempting, after years of distance, to reconcile with his teenage daughter, Jessie. There might be times during the book where the reader will want to dope-slap him--focus, idiot! But that's how Browne realistically handles the situation: Donovan is under stress, exhausted, and sometimes his judgment goes awry. It's an all-too-human portrait of a father's worst nightmare.

Browne has created a wildly tense premise here and all on its own would have pretty much guaranteed a riveting read. But Browne has other things in mind, and Kiss Her Goodbye takes on an unexpected supernatural slant—after all, what would a father do to rescue his daughter? Would he die for her? I have to admit that the supernatural elements (woo-woo, as it’s sometimes called) threw me for a while. Browne handles it very well, but it was my least favorite aspect of the book.

All the elements of a terrific novel are here—a compelling, three-dimensional hero, a brilliant and evil villain, high stakes, a ticking clock, real emotion and Browne’s visceral writing style. Browne also does some fancy footwork in incorporating his twists—they twist about where you would expect them to in a thriller, but they twist in decidedly unexpected ways. It all comes together well to make for a strong, striking debut thriller.

Mark Terry


Blogger Rob Gregory Browne said...

Thanks, man. You made my day.

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