The Serpent's Kiss

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Overview

A divorced, second generation homicide detective out of San Diego, Seamus Moynihan figures he¹s witnessed the worst kind of violence humans can visit upon one another. Then he¹s summoned to a crime scene where the victim, a naked man, has been bitten to death by a snake in a bizarre ritual orchestrated by a cunning and vicious murderer.

To catch the killer, Moynihan must embark on a mesmerizing journey into a world of twisted eroticism, black-market herpetology, fanatical ...

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Overview

A divorced, second generation homicide detective out of San Diego, Seamus Moynihan figures he¹s witnessed the worst kind of violence humans can visit upon one another. Then he¹s summoned to a crime scene where the victim, a naked man, has been bitten to death by a snake in a bizarre ritual orchestrated by a cunning and vicious murderer.

To catch the killer, Moynihan must embark on a mesmerizing journey into a world of twisted eroticism, black-market herpetology, fanatical spiritual cults, and ultimately one of history¹s enduring mysteries: Who was the second woman?

With the help of a Biblical scholar whose theories about the enigmatic wife of Cain may provide a startling link to the current investigation, Moynihan follows a twisting trail that leads to herpetologists on the cutting edge of television celebrity, Internet swingers exploring the dark depths of human sexuality...and a chilling fundamentalist cult in the backwoods of Alabama. As the mystery deepens, weaving together events of the distant and recent past, the veteran detective is forced to confront his own life¹s choices in a climax that threatens to destroy his sanity.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Seamus Moynihan is a San Diego homicide detective with an analytical mind, a disastrous family life and the annoying habit of deliberately antagonizing his bosses. In this, Sullivan's seventh novel, Moynihan faces a Bible-reading serial killer who uses poisonous snakes and strychnine-laced apples to gruesomely murder his victims. The serial killings are some of the strangest Moynihan has ever seen, and experts eagerly fall all over themselves to help him out even though most end up being suspects. With his former Israeli cop partner, Rikko Varjjan, Moynihan chases wild leads, but the pair make too many mistakes and the killer taunts them. Wrongful arrests, embarrassing scandals and a foul-up shoot-out put Varjjan in the hospital and Moynihan on suspension. Working on his own, Moynihan follows tips to a peculiar television celebrity, a famous zoo and an obscure fundamentalist Christian snake-handling church in Alabama. Smart as Moynihan is, he pulls some dumb stunts, and this well-crafted police procedural could have finished up much sooner if he had just followed his own rules and paid attention to a crucial detail. With Moynihan, Sullivan has created a solid if familiar character-a brilliant cop who's divorced, lonely, lives on a boat, drives a vintage 1967 Corvette and chases women. The investigative action is exciting and credible, and readers won't be disappointed, even if the killer's motive for murder is a bit too weird to be believed. (July 1) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Just about everything that didn’t work in Sullivan’s Labyrinth (2002) clicks here. Pace, plotting, description, and characterization are spot on. This time, a San Diego police detective tracks a serial killer whose weapons of choice are deadly reptiles. Sullivan starts with cop Seamus Moynihan, "Shay" to friends and family, puzzling over several gruesome murders that share these circumstances: the victims, all men, are found bound and naked, apples stuffed in their mouths, bitten to death by snakes. Condoms and semen stains on the beds suggest sex was part of a deadly mix that may have involved three participants and a deadly African snake. Verses, some from the Bible, are scrawled on the walls at the crime scenes. Shay’s investigation leads him to a nasty, homophobic hip-hopper; a celebrity snake-handler at the San Diego Zoo and his assistant; and Susan Dahony, assistant professor of religious studies at San Diego University. Dahony suggests the case may center on the biblical mystery of Cain’s wife and the myth of Lilith. The trail eventually winds, as it were, to the very creepy Hattiesburgh, Alabama, where Shay confronts a snake-worshiping Holiness sect. Sullivan wisely resists overdoing the violence; basic details are gruesome enough in and of themselves. He also blends in just enough sharp character background to add texture, particularly with Shay, haunted by a divorce, by a troubled relationship with his ten-year-old son, and by his father’s murder. The latter trauma affords Shay an unsettling empathy with his quarry, whose identity is revealed in a spooky climax as Shay is stripped, tied down, and tortured by a serpent’s "kisses." Cop outwits captor, but a final coda suggeststhey may return for a sequel or even a series. Familiar territory, yet engaging and satisfying: a good one for a rainy evening.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743439824
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 7/8/2003
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author


Mark. T. Sullivan is the author of Labyrinth, the book Publishers Weekly called ?one of the most exciting yarns of the millennium?; The Purification Ceremony, voted one of the hundred best books of 1997 by the Los Angeles Times; and The Fall Line, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism, he lives in Bozeman, Montana.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2004

    Good read, familiar but edgy...

    Won't waste words. The Serpent's Kiss is well crafted; the writing is tight, the story is engaging and the characters are developed and interesting. If you are going to read something, read this.

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