Last Kiss – Louise Phillips

last kiss 5 star

Published by Hachette Books Ireland

Source: Bookbridgr

In a quiet suburb, a woman desperately clings to her sanity as a shadowy presence moves objects around her home.

In a hotel room across the city, an art dealer with a dubious sexual past is found butchered, his body arranged to mimic the Hangman card from the Tarot deck.

But what connects them?

When criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson is brought in to help investigate the murder, she finds herself plunged into a web of sexual power and evil which spreads from Dublin to Paris, and then to Rome.

Will Kate discover the identity of the killer before it’s too late to protect the innocent? But what separates the innocent from the guilty when the sins of the past can never be forgotten?

Well I can certainly see why Louise Phillips is an award-winning crime writer! This is the third Dr Kate Pearson novel, however only the first that I have read. Three pages in and I knew I was going to love this book. I was hauled instantly into the intriguing world of a narrator who demanded my attention.

We are initially introduced to a very disturbing crime scene, a gruesome murder with a Tarot twist, which later transpires to not be the first of its kind. Dr Kate Pearson, criminal psychologist, is called in by Dublin police to help give a psychological profile of the murderer.

I liked Kate straight away. She is not your usual whining divorcee-mum, but carries a suitable amount of sadness and vulnerability. She is ever-professional and certainly knows her stuff with regards to the criminal psyche. She juggles her professional relationships with dignity and class – namely an emerging romance with DI Adam O’Connor (there is some history there that I think I will have to read the other novels to fully grasp), and a clear dislike for the ladder-climbing arrogance of DI Mark Lynch. Kate is also the character that gives us an enjoyable and accurate account of psychological theory, and some insightful details of Tarot reading and all its rules and meanings.

Elsewhere, we are introduced to Sandra and her friends. An unlikely group; the kind of old friends that are bound merely by a shared history rather than actually having anything in common anymore. Sandra suspects her husband is having an affair, and her friends are cagey when she airs her suspicions. You know that there is more to all of this than your bog-standard affair, but you cant put your finger on it.

Sandra is very unsettled about something else too – things are being moved around in her home, and she constantly feels like someone is watching her. Of course you know that these events are connected to the murders somehow, but when the first link is actually revealed, I couldn’t help but still feel excited about it.

The murder investigations and Kate’s role in the story are told in the third person, and Sandra gives us her first person account of what is going on with her,. This keeps things fresh and interesting.

But the absolute best part of the entire novel are the chapters dedicated to our murderer. These are told not only in the first person, but the murderer often directly addresses the reader. With lines such as

Would you warn her if you could? Or would you wait around to see what other games I have in store?”

These sections are what makes the story all the more chilling. I really felt this psycho in the room with me – I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that had such an intense effect.

The prose within the murderer’s sections was almost hypnotic. I could see how they lull and manipulate their victims, I could feel them doing the same to me! The way you are drawn in is actually quite terrifying. The murderer is not only slowly letting you in on the secrets that the rest of the players have yet to fathom, but is also giving you a direct view to their terribly dark and damaged psyche. They are also very articulate in describing their own childhood trauma, although not to invoke sympathy as they know they are way past that, but almost as a way of further torturing the reader, by letting you know just how dark and ugly this world can be – and their references to the ‘Grimm’ type characters in their life, like the witch and the huntsman, just goes further to give you the heebie-jeebies! And yes, albeit worryingly so, the murderer was in fact my favourite in a brilliantly diverse and complex group of cracking characters.

I think one of my favourite lines came from the murderer:-

You might think you know me too. I doubt it. I haven’t told you everything, not yet.”

Ooh that one was a corker! Because they were right! You are led on a right merry dance in working out who they are. And I must confess I was slightly disappointed that I was right about their identity early on – although I don’t believe this to be a flaw in the story, and more likely due to me recently reading a very similar plot reveal in another story. Even though I had worked it out very early on, the writing was just so that I couldn’t put money on it, and it didn’t ruin it one bit for me, because the climax was still exciting enough.

Overall, this book was disturbingly and brilliantly intense, and I implore all crime and psychological thriller fans to put this on their reading list immediately! Fantastic!

My thanks to the publishers for providing this book for review.

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