A Killer's Kiss

A Killer's Kiss

4.1 6
by William Lashner

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"You want to know what deceit tastes like?
It's sweet. Like honey."

Over the course of his shady legal career, Victor Carl has made a host of bad decisions, but letting his ex-fiancée, Julia, fall back into his life and into his bed might be the worst. Julia's husband has just been murdered, her fingerprints are all over the


"You want to know what deceit tastes like?
It's sweet. Like honey."

Over the course of his shady legal career, Victor Carl has made a host of bad decisions, but letting his ex-fiancée, Julia, fall back into his life and into his bed might be the worst. Julia's husband has just been murdered, her fingerprints are all over the crime scene, and $1.7 million in cash has inexplicably vanished. If Victor didn't know better, he might think Julia was setting him up.

But Julia is drop-dead gorgeous and lust trumps reason 24/7 in Victor Carl's world. Victor wants to believe the Beatles were right, that all you need is love. But why are the cops accusing Victor of murder? And what is the murder weapon doing in his bedroom? And who is the dead woman in the freezer?

Suddenly, the wary lawyer is no longer fighting to rekindle a lost love . . . he's fighting to save himself.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

"There was this girl." Old love dies hard, and who better than Philadelphia defense attorney Victor Carl to share with us the familiar tale of passion, murder, and greed? When former fiancée Julia shows up at his apartment one night, Victor is not really surprised to find two police detectives right behind her. Although Julia's urologist husband was murdered that very evening, our hero, ever loyal and valiant, desperately wants to find her innocent. Not surprisingly, drug addiction, Jamaican drug dealers, embezzled funds, and a Russian gangster complicate the search for justice. With $1.7 million missing, soon Victor is caught up in a lively pursuit. Where's the money, and who's the murderer? Without much courtroom action or former partner Beth's earnestness, the book lacks the sparkle of Marked Man, and Lashner hints that Victor might take a break for a while. Still, as Victor muddles through, the humor keeps his seventh appearance appealing. Lashner's style fits some quirky niche between Carl Hiaasen's capers and standard legal thrillers and certainly brings Philadelphia to life. Recommended for all popular fiction collections.
—Teresa L. Jacobsen

Kirkus Reviews
This time out, Victor Carl, that lesser light of the Philadelphia bar, counts the ways an old flame can be too hot to handle. She's a piece of work, that Julia Denniston, nee Julia Crenshaw, the name she was answering to on the day she left Victor Carl "bare and broken at the altar." Left him without explanation, without consolation, without anything he could use to bolster a battered psyche when she dumped him for Dr. Wren Denniston, urologist. Years pass and Julia suddenly makes contact again, resulting in a Victor re-smitten, a romance rekindled. Then, just as suddenly, married Julia becomes widowed Julia, Dr. Denniston having suffered homicide. It's a most opportune development, the cops maintain, while firing accusing glances at Victor, who has not the smidge of an alibi. The cops like Victor a lot, and soon it's clear that he's the fall guy. But who is it that's trying to frame him? Could it be . . . could it possibly be that sweet, sexy, maddeningly enigmatic Julia has a secret agenda? In the days that follow, as the cops rev up their rush to judgment, Victor learns the hard way that he who takes up with an old flame risks getting fried. The lively wit that's served to redeem Victor throughout this series (Marked Man, 2006, etc.) seems tired and forced here, leaving the reader to make do with a lovelorn shyster short on appeal. Agent: Wendy Sherman/Wendy Sherman Associates

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Victor Carl Series , #7
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Read an Excerpt

A Killer's Kiss

Chapter One

They came for me in the nighttime, which is usually the way of it. They knocked so loudly the walls shook. Two men in ties and raincoats. I could see them through the peephole in my door. They weren't wearing fedoras, but they might as well have been.

"It's late," I yelled without opening the wooden door. "And I don't need any magazines."

"We're looking for Victor Carl."

"Who's looking?"

The shorter one leaned toward the door until a walleye filled the peephole. Then he pulled back and reached into his jacket. The badge glinted like a set of freshly sharpened teeth.

"I'm naked," I said.

"Then put something on," said the guy with the badge. "Our stomachs are strong, but not that strong."

In the bedroom I slipped on a pair of jeans and a shirt. I knew who they were before the badge was flashed. I had seen the two of them prowling the corridors of the Criminal Justice Building, where I plied most of my trade these days, defending the riff and the raff. You can always tell the cops in the courthouse, they're the ones laughing and rubbing their hands, talking about where they are going to eat lunch. While they waited in the hallway, I took the time to put on socks and a pair of heavy black shoes with steel tips. When dealing with the police, if you don't protect your toes, they are sure to be stepped on.

I closed the bedroom door behind me before I opened the front door. They strolled in like they were strolling into an art gallery, hands behind their backs, leaning forward as they examined the walls.

"Nice place," said the one who had shown mehis badge.

"No it's not," I said.

He stopped and looked hard at me. He was slim and sharp-faced, with clever eyes. "You're right. I was just being polite. But the furniture's not bad. My wife's looking for some new pieces. Is that couch leather?"

"Pleather," I said.

"Well, you certainly can't tell unless you look. You mind if I sit?"

I shrugged.

"I'm Detective Sims," he said as he carefully lowered himself onto the couch and lifted one leg over the other. Sims's suit was freshly pressed, his shoes were shiny and thin-soled. "This is my partner, Hanratty."

"A pleasure," I said.

Hanratty grunted.

"He's big, isn't he?" I said to Sims.

"But a surprisingly nimble dancer for his size," said Sims. "You alone?"

"Not anymore."

"Why is your water running?"

"I was about to shower when you guys knocked."

"We'll wait while you turn it off."

"It's all right. You won't be staying long."

"I don't know," said Sims. "Hanratty might want some tea."

"Do you want some tea, Hanratty?" I said.

Hanratty stood like a block of cement and glowered. He was the size of a linebacker, with thick knuckles and a closely mowed patch of blond hair. The bridge of his nose was crushed like a beer can. I tried to imagine him dancing nimbly and failed. But he sure could glower. I got the feeling if he smiled, his face would shatter.

"Where were you tonight, smart guy?" said Hanratty. Each syllable was like a punch to the kidneys.

"Home," I said. "I don't get out much."

"Spend your nights on your pleather couch, do you?" said Sims. "Eating cheesesteaks, watching that big television set you got there. That's a lonely kind of existence for a man your age."

"Not as lonely as you would think. Every once in a while a couple of cops stop by and chat amiably about my taste in furniture. What division within the department did you boys say you were in?"

"We didn't," said Sims. "You wear any rings, Victor?"

I lifted my hands and showed him. They were free of jewelry.

"How'd you get the cut between your forefinger and thumb on your right hand?"

"I was slicing onions."

"Care if I look at it?" he said.

"That's not necessary. I'm sure it will heal on its own."

"Give him the hand," said Hanratty.

I stared at him for a moment, saw the violence behind his eyes, and then brought my right hand closer to Sims. Sims grabbed it, examined both sides, brought it up to his face as if to kiss it, and then took a sniff.

"That was weird," I said after I jerked it away.

"Yet strangely thrilling," said Sims. "I smelled soap. Always lather up your hands before you shower, do you?"

"Cleanliness is a virtue," I said.

Sims looked around at the disordered mess that was my apartment. "Ever been married, Victor?"


"Good for you. Trust me when I tell you, it's not all it's cracked up to be. Ever been engaged?"


"What happened?"

"It didn't work out."

"Care to spill the details?"


"Still hurts, is that it?"

"Ancient history."

"Oh, six or seven years is not that long a time. McDeiss says you were pretty broken up about it."

A chill shivered up my spine at the name. I tried to work my jaw but it was frozen. McDeiss was a homicide detective. I put a hand to my jaw and rubbed it back to life. "McDeiss?" I managed to say. "You guys work with McDeiss?"

"You're pretty close with him, from what we hear."

"Not really."

"You've broken bread together, haven't you? Worked a couple of cases together." "On different sides."

"He's the one who suggested we stop by, ask a few questions, see what you—Wait. Did you hear that, Hanratty? The water just turned off. All by itself."

"The water pressure in the building is erratic," I said.

"Maybe our friend here is not as lonely as he lets on. Why don't you invite your guest out so we can have a little party?"

"Maybe you should mind your own damn business."

"Getting testy, are we, Victor? Got something to hide? Embarrassed by your partner? Or maybe your visitor is somebody's wife."

A Killer's Kiss. Copyright © by William Lashner. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author William Lashner is the author of seven suspense novels that have been published in more than a dozen languages throughout the world. A graduate of the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, he lives with his family outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Killer's Kiss 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Andre-DeP More than 1 year ago
I was hoping for a new fabulous thriller writer, had read the reviews and purchased. Not much at all.... Very poor writing style I felt, compared to my hero thriller writers as Deaver, Cussler, Thor, Coben, Gerritsen, Mike Palmer, Child, etc. I archived it....
christytilleryfrench More than 1 year ago
Although Philadelphia defense attorney Victor Carl's fiancée left him for another man, the flame for her has never completely diminished. When she steps back into his life, claiming regret, Victor once more finds himself falling for a woman who never reveals much about herself. When her husband is murdered, the evidence initially points to Julia, but Victor becomes a person of interest because he was with Julia the night her husband was killed. It isn't long before the case takes a serious turn as more evidence is garnered, with Victor now the primary suspect. Victor's goal is to prove himself and Julia innocent, but his efforts are hampered by a Russian thug and his hit man, who want Victor to find the 1.7 million dollars Julia's husband stole from them. This seventh installment of the Victor Carl series is as entertaining and fun to read as the first. Victor Carl is a man of cynicism and wit, with a high sense of self-awareness as to his flaws, yet who is not invested in changing his, at times, unethical behaviors. Lashner inserts the usual cast of quirky characters in a plot that moves at a fast pace and is amusing throughout. This reviewer is disappointed to read this series is going on hiatus while Lashner pursues other writing endeavors. Hopefully, fans will see Victor Carl in print again soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
With the first few pages of the seventh crime tale starring Victor Carl readers may well be tsk-tsking, thinking, 'He should have known better.' Right, he should have, but lapses in judgment are very much a part of his charm. Carl is a Philadelphia DA, not at all short changed when it comes to smarts but who also makes the worst decisions. He's a bit of an idiosyncratic hero, and therein lies some of his attraction. Readers pull for him and turn pages to find out what in the world he's going to do next. With A Killer's Kiss we immediately know what he did first. As Carl says, 'Old love doesn't disappear it is too potent an elixir for that. Instead it burrows deep into bone, like a parasite, waiting until just the right moment to reassert itself and sabotage your life.' So, when ex fiancé Julia shows up at his apartment apparently wanting to relight their former fire, he doesn't waste any time. He forgets that she abruptly dumped him for wealthy Rolex wearing Dr. Wren Denniston. However, this brief recapturing of what once was or perhaps never was is interrupted by a pounding on his apartment door. Two detectives are there to tell him that Dr. Denniston has just been murdered and, quite obviously, he's a suspect. Coincidence? Clearer minds would not think so. But for Carl logic flies out the window as far as Julia is concerned. He suddenly finds himself having not only to clear himself but also determines to prove Julia's innocence. That in itself is a monumental task but enter a crazed criminal and his attendant goons demanding some missing millions. They not only make matters worse but very nearly do away with Carl. With picture perfect descriptions of Philadelphia areas, A Killer's Kiss is one more robust, rousing, riot of a tale from the inexhaustible Lashner. To carry the alliteration further, it's steamy, suspenseful, stay-up late reading. - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
Philadelphia Attorney Victor Carl wakes up one morning in the vestibule of his apartment building, his suit disheveled, socks missing, and the name Chantal Adair inscribed on his chest. Victor can¿t remember what happened the prior night and is on a quest to find out, along with who Chantal Adair is. But his efforts are waylaid by a stubborn Greek woman on her deathbed, demanding he bring her son Charlie Kalakos home in return for a favor Victor¿s father owes her. Charlie is wanted by the District Attorney¿s Office and the FBI for stealing a Rembrandt painting from a museum. Charlie wants to return home to tell his mother goodbye but Charlie¿s partners-in-crime would prefer he stay gone. While negotiating with the authorities as well as considering a shady offer by an art dealer/mercenary named Lavender Hill, Victor hires his own investigator to find Chantal Adair. To his surprise, a young girl with the same name disappeared the night Charlie and his gang stole the Rembrandt. Could the two crimes be connected? Each outing with self-deprecating Victor Carl is a treat for readers who like a good mystery with wacky characters and a narrative voice that entertains throughout. A flawed man who thinks worse of himself than he actually is, Victor is tempted by fame and money with an internal monitoring system that allows him to step outside the bounds of law, but just barely. Victor, who seems to remain in a self-identity crisis, is joined this time by his partner, Beth Derringer, the moral gauge of their partnership. Lashner¿s excellent style offers plenty of humor enmeshed within a good story and characters that just can¿t be matched. This series is a hard one to top.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Late at night in Philadelphia, two PPD detectives visit District Attorney Victor Carl at his house. Someone shot and killed Dr. Wren Denniston at his home in exclusive Chestnut Hill a million plus dollars is missing. The two cops know that the victim¿s wife Julia was Carl¿s former fiancée.------------- Already a person of interest, Carl¿s alibi turns him into the prime suspect as he is courting Julia at his apartment. Stunned Carl wonders if his beloved Julia has set him up to take the fall though when it comes to her he still thinks with his lower head. Although officially he needs to stay out of the investigation, Carl makes inquiries not to prove to the cops he did not commit the crime but to establish her innocence soon he develops a long list of people including his Julia at the top with motives to kill Denniston.----------------- Julia is terrific as a femme fatale who plays Carl perfect in this superb thriller. The story line is fast-paced driven by Carl who begins to conclude that all she needs is love to set him up yet cannot stop himself from making mistake after mistake when it comes to her. Filled with twists and red herrings, William Lasher provides a great character study mindful of classic tales like the Maltese Falcon and DOA. Carl needs to believe that Julia came to him out of love although the evidence when his brain receives enough blood overwhelmingly speaks otherwise.------- Harriet Klausner