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I step into the white room at precisely eleven o'clock. White walls, thick white carpeting, white stippled ceiling. The lights are on and it is very bright, very warm. Aside from the blue-screened computer on the desk in the corner, the only color in the room is the plum velvet wing chair, dead center, facing the computer's small video camera, facing the lights.
I am dressed in charcoal trousers, pleated, and a powder blue shirt with French cuffs. I am also wearing a pair of black Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses. I am barefoot and the shirt is open at the top.
I received the e-mail from Dante at eight-thirty and that gave me just enough time to get to the dry cleaner, just enough time to flirt with a waitress and pick up some dinner at Sfuzzi. I can still taste the garlic from the veal piccata and feel like I might be cheating this woman, even though she is going to be light-years away, figuratively speaking. But I understand what compels the person on the other side of the session to call, to arrange, to pay. I respect that.
So I take out my Binaca and freshen my breath.
I sit down.
At eleven-ten the computer speakers sizzle with static, the small window in the upper right of the computer monitor flickers once, twice, but does not yield an image. I do not expect it to. Although the connection allows for two-way video transmission, I have yet to see anyone appear in that frame. Watchers watch.
Soon, from the speakers, there comes a synthesized voice, robotic, yet unmistakably female.
"Hello?" the voice says.
"Hello," I answer, knowing she can see me now.
"Are you the police officer?"
The game.Eternally the game. First the game, then the guilt. But always, in the middle, the come. "Yes."
"Just home from a tough day at work?"
"Just walked through the door," I say. "Just kicked off my shoes."
"Shoot anyone today?"
"Not today." "Arrest anyone?" "Yes."
"Just a girl. A very wicked girl."
She laughs, pauses for a few moments, then says: "Fix yourself a drink." I stand, walk out of the frame. There is no bar in this room, but there is a desk with some of the items I anticipated needing. She cannot see these things, these props I will use to produce this chimera for her. Nor, of course, can she see the cauldron, the long-rusted hooks.
Those are in the black room.
As I pick up the tumbler containing a few inches of rum, I hear an increase in the pace of the woman's electronic breathing. Watchers like to anticipate, too. Watchers like it even when they can't watch.
I play her for a few moments, then reenter the frame and sit down.
"Drink," she says, a little breathless now.
I drink. The liquid is pleasant amber fire in my stomach.
A strong, authoritative command. I obey.
"Now," the voice continues, "I want you to take your shirt off. Slowly."
I turn my right wrist, look again at my silver cuff links, at the ancient symbol engraved into the smooth matte surface. I take the cuff links out with great drama, then unbutton my shirt slowly, one mother-of-pearl button at a time, and let it slip over my shoulders to the floor.
"Good," says the voice. "Very good. You are a very beautiful young man.
"Now your trousers. Belt first, then the button, then the zipper."
I do as I am told. Soon I am naked. I sit down on the chair. My penis looks thick and heavily veined against the purple velvet.
"Do you know who I am?" asks the voice.
I do not. I say so.
"Do you want to know who I am?"
I remain silent.
"I can't tell you anyway," the voice says. "But I do know what I want you to do now."
"What is that?"
"I want you to think about the woman you saw today. At the whorehouse.""Okay."
"Do you remember her?"
"Yes. I haven't been able to forget her."
The voice continues, a little faster. "The woman you saw on the topfloor. Did you like her?"
"Yes," I say, my erection beginning to amass. This was the easy part."Very much."
"Did it turn you on to watch her?"
"Yes." Up a few more degrees. Then a few more.
"That was me, you know. I was the whore."
"Do you like to watch me do that to other men?"
"Yes. I love it."
"Spread your legs," she says, the transmission breaking up a bit.
A few more moments of static, then: "Meet me."
"No.""Meet me tonight."
It is a plea, now. The power has shifted, as it always does. "No," I reply.
"Meet me and fuck me."
I wait a few beats. My heart begins to race. Is she going to be the one? "If I say yes, what will you do for me?"
"I...I'll pay you," she says. "I have cash."
"I don't want your money. "
"Then what do you want?"
I pause. For effect. "Obedience."
"If we meet, you will do as I say?"
"You will do exactly as I say?"
"Are you alone now?"
"Then listen to me carefully, because I will tell you this once."
She remains silent. I shift in the chair, continue.
"There is an abandoned building on the southeast corner of East Fortieth and Central," I say. "There is a doorway on the East Fortieth side. Iwant you to stand there, facing the door. Understand?"
"Do you truly have the courage to go there? To do this?"
The slightest hesitation, then: "Yes."
"Do you understand that I am going to fuck you in that door-way? Doyou understand that I am going to walk up behind you and fuck you inthat filthy doorway?"
"You will wear a short white skirt."
"You will wear nothing underneath it."
"You will wear nothing on top either, just a short jacket of some sort.Leather. Do you have one?"
"And your highest heels."
"I'm wearing them now."
"You will not turn around. You will not look at me. Do you understand?"
"Yes."Kiss of Evil. Copyright © by Richard Montanari. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted February 2, 2009
This is another excellent book from Richard Montanari. The suspense in this book keeps you on the edge of your seat not knowing what will happen next. Montanari uses believable characters which makes for an outstanding plot. I can arguably say that 'Kiss of Evil' is one of the best suspenseful novels ever written. It truly is an amazing book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 4, 2001
WOW Montanari's 'Kiss Of Evil' truly puts this master of suspense at the head of the class. It's his second Jack Paris book, and I say that it has been to long a wait, Although I read his ' The Violet Hour ,'and even though it was not a Paris book, It was a book with an ending without parallel, I carried the ending around with me for several months, It kinda held me over until 'Kiss Of Evil ' came out. The Characters are developed in such a way by the back-story Mr. Montanari gives them; we feel that we know them . The road Jack Paris takes to solve this mystery that grows colder by the day,is almost missed until he notices one clue that opens the door slightly. But it makes no sense until Jack ties it to a particular event. The killer outsmarts Paris every time but one,and that one time is pure gold, which only a master storyteller can conceive and excecute. It is truly a complex story, with all of the clues provided for us to flush out the Killer. Even With the savagery and gore Montanari writes about, there are such tender moments,that they make your heart hurt. Resign yourself to pull an all nighter on 'Kiss Of Evil ' because it won't let you go. Please Don't keep us waiting so long for the next paris book Mr. M.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
Two years ago in Cleveland model Sarah Weiss allegedly murdered police detective Michael Ryan in a local hotel. Sarah beats the rap and Michael¿s reputation is destroyed in the process. Michael¿s partner John Paris knows that the media, the brass, and the justice system ¿raped¿ a good cop unable to defend himself while his killer is free. <P>However, John feels better about that case when Sarah dies in a car fire because he feels she deserves what she finally got. However, more vicious murders linked back to Michael soon occur, leaving John to wonder what is the real link between the brutal deaths of five people and counting. <P>When it comes to psychological suspense, no one does it better than Richard Montanari (see THE DEVIANT WAY). His latest police procedural, KISS OF EVIL, is exciting and filled with non-stop action as he takes his audience on a joy ride of Cleveland that is a bit different than say a trip to Jacobs Field. John makes the story as readers feel his frustration, shock, and near obsession with the case. Though the plot is a bit graphic yet apropos for the spine tingling story line, fans will clamor for Mr. Montanari to return with more Paris psychological police procedurals in the near future. <P>Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 30, 2001
Kiss of Evil is an amazing puzzle, well-told, by one of the best-kept secrets in suspense writing. If you like your thrillers dark and sexy and scary, read this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 14, 2001
Detective John Paris returns in this dark, psychological thriller that has all the sinister appeal of Montanari¿s DEVIANT WAY, and further cements Paris¿s place as one of the more enigmatic series detectives in hard-boiled crime fiction today. Two years ago, in an expensive hotel suite, Detective Michael Ryan was executed with his own gun. The beautiful woman who was acquitted at the time has now died in an apparent suicide. Karma? Maybe. Case closed? Not by any means. The suicide is only the beginning of a series of bizarre and seemingly unrelated deaths; ritualistic murders that terrorize the city, and weave in and out of the lives of a grifter with a five year old daughter, a Latina reporter on the career fast-track, a dealer in religious icons and the private life of John Paris. The setting again is the darkest side of Cleveland, and, as Paris investigates, he finds himself drawn into a deviant underground culture, deep inside the mind of an educated killer, and closer to the terrible truth of what really happened in that hotel room two years ago. KISS OF EVIL is a fast, disturbing read, a true city noir, and arguably the first literary thriller of the decade. I hope there are more Paris books to come.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 24, 2000
There is a temptation, when reading a new novel of suspense, to compare the work to other books and other writers. Richard Montanari -- remember the name -- defies those comparisons and requires we resist easy temptation. KISS OF EVIL, like Montanari himself, represents a stunning new kind of suspense -- stylish, sensual, gripping and proud. In his third novel, Montanari revisits Cleveland Detective Jack Paris, as he stalks yet another blood thirsty killer. He's a homicide detective. It's what he does. But don't expect a half-assed reinactments of DEVIANT WAY, the book that introduced Paris and Montanari to readers in 1995. Expect instead a fresh, fast-paced page turner made robust by the familiar Paris persona. This talented new writer skillfully walked the sequel tightrope to produce a book that stands just as surely on its own. You may not have heard of Richard Montanari. But if the fates are kind, and the author willing, you will. And you'll be glad to have made the suspenseful FIND!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.