Kiss Her Goodbye

Kiss Her Goodbye

by Robert Gregory Browne

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"Kiss Her Goodbye is a smashing good read. It moves at such a breakneck pace that you'll scarcely have time to take a breath."

—Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Mephisto Club

In a gripping thriller that matches one cop's love for his only daughter against the diabolical cunning of a charismatic


"Kiss Her Goodbye is a smashing good read. It moves at such a breakneck pace that you'll scarcely have time to take a breath."

—Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Mephisto Club

In a gripping thriller that matches one cop's love for his only daughter against the diabolical cunning of a charismatic madman, debut novelist Robert Gregory Browne announces his presence in territory long ruled by the likes of Dean Koontz and John Sandford

ATF Agent Jack Donovan has two ambitions: take down cult leader Alex Gunderson after years of violent mayhem, and reconnect with his daughter Jessie, who has somehow managed to slip from his life. But, none of Jack's experience as a stellar cop or an absent father has prepared him for the unthinkable way these two parts of his life are about to collide.

In a desperate act of revenge, Gunderson kidnaps Jessie and buries her alive. But just as Jack's team is closing in, fate intervenes in the form of a bullet and the secret to Jessie's location is lost. With only a few precious hours of oxygen to sustain her, and with not a single clue pointing in her direction, Jessie is sure to die—unless Jack can somehow find her. Jack would trade anything in the world for just one shot to save his little girl—even his own life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Provocative violence, a colorful Chicago background and a dollop of the supernatural lift Browne's debut thriller. ATF agent Jack Donovan almost captures his nemesis, ruthless gangster Alex Gunderson, during a bank robbery. Gunderson's amoral pregnant wife, Sara, is shot in the ensuing chase, leaving her in a coma. Gunderson seeks revenge by kidnapping Donovan's teenage daughter, Jessica, and burying her in a coffin with enough air for three days. As the tension builds, a vainglorious Chicago cop shoots the kidnapper, who dies without revealing Jessica's whereabouts. Browne's experience as a screenwriter shows as he shorthands the parallels between the anarchic Gunderson and straight-arrow Donovan, both of whom are single-minded and personally loyal. Elements of the supernatural, including out-of-body experiences, provide humorous relief from the breathtaking pace. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
One-note debut thriller purporting to be a study in evil. Pony-tailed Chicago arms-trafficker Alex Gunderson is the head of the fanatical anti-government group called Socialist Amerikan Reconstruction Army-SARA for short, in honor of his adored pregnant wife. His longtime nemesis is 39-year-old Jack Donovan, special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jack's estranged 15-year-old daughter Jessie, staying with him for the first time since the divorce, makes it quite clear that she resents him for never being around while she was growing up. When Gunderson stages a blowout heist at the Northland First & Trust bank, Donovan is there to foil it. Sara, a major player in the stickup despite her big belly (she's as much a sociopath as her husband), is gravely wounded during the subsequent car chase, leaving Gunderson bent on avenging himself on Donovan. While Sara lies in a coma in a hospital, Gunderson kidnaps Jessie and buries her alive-but she'll stay that way, he tells Donovan, only as long as the oxygen tanks last. The rest of the story unfolds as a cat-and-mouse game between two desperate men. Donovan arrests oily ex-con Bobby Nemo, witnessed taking part in Gunderson's bank robbery, then releases him in hopes of following Bobby to his leader. With Jessie buried and barely breathing, Donovan runs a nerve-wracking race against time to save his daughter and prove his fatherly love, aided by girlfriend and ATF colleague Rachel, formerly a battered wife. (Browne's characterizations run to guys-and-dolls cliches.) The personal vendetta begins to take its toll on both hero and villain, while the reader remains unmoved and unenlightened. Gutter-mouthed characters andgraphic violence-the usual.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.00(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Kiss Her Goodbye

By Robert Gregory Browne

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2007 Robert Gregory Browne
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-312-35839-6

Chapter One

It all started when the pregnant girl went crazy.

Walt spotted her right away, standing amid the knot of customers who waited out front as he unlocked the doors: nineteen, twenty years old. Belly about to burst. Sweet smile.

When Walt saw that smile, the first thing that came to mind was Emily. He remembered the fresh-scrubbed look she'd had when she was pregnant with their first child; an effervescence she had carried through to old age; the ability to smile even as Death reached up and put a hammerlock on her heart.

Walt looked at the girl and felt a choke of emotion bubble up as he swung the doors open. He had loved his wife, but he didn't really like thinking about her. He'd never been one to dwell on the past, and as sweet as this little lady seemed to be, he felt uncomfortable looking her in the eye.

She, on the other hand, didn't seem to have a problem with it. As customers filed past him into the bank, she waited her turn, then let her smile widen as she approached, looking directly at him.

"Beautiful morning, isn't it?"

Her voice had a carefree, I've-conquered-the-world lilt to it. The kind only kids her age are able to muster. Walt himself had never been much of a conqueror-as thirty-seven years working security for the same bank easily demonstrated-but he envied those who seemed to feel they were invincible.

Avoiding the girl's gaze, he stared out at the sky, which was as blue as Emily's eyes.

"Yes, ma'am," he said. "A morning like this makes me wish I had wings."

It didn't really, but he believed in being polite and the words sounded good. Almost poetic.

Walt didn't think it possible, but the girl's smile grew even wider as she slipped past him, her shoulder brushing against the gray of his uniform.

He watched her waddle to the counter at the center of the room, where she grabbed a withdrawal slip and began filling it out with deliberate strokes, as if the final result would somehow be worthy of framing.

Walt realized it wasn't just her smile that reminded him of Emily. It was everything about her. Her build, the little yellow sundress, the short-cropped hair, the way she kept her purse cocked on her hip as she stood there, all of her concentration centered on the task at hand.

For just a moment he wished he were young again. Wished he could wipe away all these years without his woman and go back to a time when the only thing that mattered was how much they loved each other. When laughter was a way of life, and a leaky pipe or a pet on the loose or a wrong turn was an adventure rather than a chore. An adventure they shared as comrades-in-arms.

Try as he might, Walt couldn't stop thinking about these things. This girl had somehow opened the floodgates and he knew now that her beautiful morning was just the beginning of his bad day.

Then, it happened.

As Walt watched, the girl turned slightly. He could see she was still smiling. Then something flickered in her eyes and the smile abruptly disappeared. Clutching her swollen belly, she stumbled back and released a small cry of pain, her withdrawal slip fluttering to the floor.

Walt went to her and caught her by the shoulders as she started to fall. "You alright, ma'am?"

"Peachy," she said.

This wasn't even close to the response Walt had expected, but before he could give it too much thought, the girl twisted away from him and brought her hand out of her purse.

She was holding a Smith & Wesson nine-millimeter.

Pointed at his sixty-three-year-old paunch.

All at once the sweetness evaporated, the lilt in her voice replaced by a cold, hard edge.

"On the floor. Now."

At first Walt couldn't believe it. A pregnant girl was pointing a weapon at him. A crazy pregnant girl who no longer reminded him of Emily at all.

He hesitated, thinking about his own weapon that hung heavy at his side.

"Now," the girl said. "Or you will have wings."

Walt started to move, feeling his old bones creak as he did what he was told. Halfway down, he heard a shout from across the room and immediately recognized Sam's voice.

Sam was his partner. A ten-year man with a wife and two cute kids who giggled a lot and called him Uncle Wally.

"Drop your weapon!" Sam shouted.

Without even the slightest hesitation, the pregnant girl spun around and leveled the Smith, letting loose two quick shots.

Walt jerked his head up just in time to see Sam-hand resting on a weapon that hadn't even cleared its holster-take two bullets to the face and fly backward, landing in a heap on the linoleum.

It was then that Walt decided to act.

No thinking, no planning, just action.

His hand dropped to the butt of his pistol and with a quick jerk he pulled it free.

But the pregnant girl was too fast.

As if sensing what he was up to, she spun back around, and this time Walt looked her right in the eye. What he saw there sent a chill through him:

The gaze of a predator.

A fierceness that froze him to the spot.

His weapon was only halfway out of its holster when she pointed the muzzle of the Smith & Wesson at him and squeezed the trigger.

And the last thing Walter O'Brien thought before the lights went out was I'm coming, sweetheart.

See you soon.

Chapter Two

Everyone was screaming. Tellers. Customers. The haughty little banker bitches who sat behind their desks with their oh-so-superior smiles.

They weren't smiling now.

Sara raised the Smith over her head and fired a round into the ceiling, just like Alex had taught her. Gotta let them know right away who's boss.

"Everybody down!" she shouted. "Noses to the floor!"

What a rush.

She almost let out a giggle, but held back. No time for levity now. This was serious business.

All around her, people dropped to the floor, keeping their heads down, afraid to look at her for fear she'd put a bullet in somebody's brain.

And she would, too.

No mercy, Alex always said. Show them no mercy. Mercy is a sign of weakness. And weakness will never be respected.

He was a genius, Alex was. Poet. Philosopher. Mystic. Activist. All the clichés rolled into one.

Only Alex wasn't a cliché.

Alex was the real deal.

Sara had known that the moment she'd met him back at Knox College. Her roommate, a giggly bitch named Tiffany, had picked him up at The Passion Pit and brought him to their dorm room for a quick tuck and tumble-a guy with a ponytail, no less. But once he laid eyes on Sara, Tiffany ceased to exist. He gave Tiff the quick brush-off, then caught up to Sara in the hallway and invited her outside to smoke a joint.

Tiffany was miffed, to say the least, standing in their doorway with her famous fuck-you scowl, but Sara didn't care. This guy had magnetic green eyes that bored into you as he spoke. Like he knew you were really there. Like you weren't just some hole he was sniffing around, hoping to get lucky.

They sneaked into the bell tower atop Old Main, got high, and spent the night laughing and talking. And in those hours, she discovered that he could read her feelings like no one she'd ever met. By the time the sun came up, they'd made love twice and Sara knew this was it.

He was the one.

A month later they married and Sara dropped out of school. Her old man nearly had a brain aneurysm when he found out, but there wasn't much he could do about it. She knew he had tried to buy Alex off, but Alex had told him to go take a flying fuck. For once Daddy's money was useless.

Besides, Alex had his own financial strategy.

"Please, don't hurt anyone else." This from some sweaty little ass-bag in a bow tie. "Take whatever you want."

Sara figured him for the bank manager. Probably treated his employees like shit. You could see in his face what a creep he was.

He reminded her of her father.

She leveled the pistol at him and he ducked, covering his head with his hands. She had half a mind to pull the trigger just because the sight of him made her sick, but that wouldn't be right.

Another of Alex's tenets: no unnecessary killing.

The two guards had been shot in self-defense. If they hadn't been crazy enough to try to draw on her, they'd still be alive instead of lying in pools of their own blood and waste.

Sara felt kind of bad about the older one. When she gave him the look and pointed her gun at him, his watery gray eyes got all big and scared. She'd practically had to force herself to pull the trigger.

But it was his own fault. He should have gotten down and stayed down like she told him to.

Stupid old fool.

There was movement toward the back of the room and Sara fired another round into the ceiling. A woman screamed as plaster showered down around her.

"I'm not gonna tell you again," Sara shouted. "You move, you die. Got that?"

She gave everyone the look now-that flat, deadly, animal stare she'd practiced for hours. Alex said she had a natural propensity (his word) for sweetness, and he'd spent days working with her, teaching her to turn it on and off. He said her ability to do that was better than any weapon he owned, and Alex owned a lot of weapons.

Speaking of which, where the hell was he?

The guards had been immobilized; the room was under her control ...

He should've been here by now.

Before she completed the thought, the bank doors burst open and the love of her life strolled in.

Gunderson hated bank jobs. They were messy and unwieldy and full of unknown variables. You never knew when some nutcase might decide it was more important to die a hero than tuck his kids into bed that night.

On top of that, the labor-to-profit ratio was a bit too thin to make it all worthwhile. He could make more money copping credit card numbers off the Internet.

But bank jobs generated heat. And if you've got a message to get across, as Gunderson did, then heat is what you need.

He pushed the bank doors wide and gestured for Luther and Nemo to go in first. Like Gunderson, they sported black battle gear, ski masks, and Colt Commando 733s. A bit showy, but that was the point.

Their armbands featured hand-sewn Chinese characters against a black background, the symbol for warrior, a favorite of Gunderson's. Sara had designed them one night after a particularly athletic bout of lovemaking. He was her warrior, she'd said. His energy inspired her.

And she, in turn, inspired him.

Gunderson hefted the 733 and pushed in after Luther and Nemo. Sara was near a counter at the center of the room, her game face on, the nine-millimeter he'd given her for her birthday clutched in her left hand.

Her wedding ring glinted under the fluorescent lights-a $40,000 work of perfection he'd stolen off some fake-n-bake bitch in Boulder City after he'd boned her silly.

Nothing but the best for his Sara.

Gunderson crossed to where Sara was standing and handed her a Kevlar vest. She waved the nine, indicating the crowd of civilians facedown on the floor. "Proud of me?"

Gunderson smiled and rubbed the swell of her abdomen. The kid was kicking like crazy. "Always, baby. Always."

As he helped her into the vest, he marveled at how good she looked pregnant. He couldn't imagine anyone more beautiful than she was right now. Or any other time, for that matter.

She was the kind of woman men write sonnets about. Fight duels over.

And she was his. All his.

Gunderson pulled off his ski mask, kissed Sara's forehead, then turned and pointed his 733 at the nearest surveillance camera, blasting it right off its swivel mount.

There was an audible reaction from the crowd as camera guts blew everywhere.

Gunderson smiled. "Alright, folks, settle down. This, as they say, is a stickup."


Excerpted from Kiss Her Goodbye by Robert Gregory Browne Copyright © 2007 by Robert Gregory Browne. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Robert Gregory Browne has had a lifelong fascination with the near-death experience and the afterlife, which led to the plot of Kiss Her Goodbye. He was born in California but grew up in Honolulu, a city he considers his home. He now lives in Ojai, California.

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