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Kiss Me, Judas


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About the Author

Will Christopher Baer was born in 1966 in Mississippi and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. He has won fiction prizes from Story Magazine and has published work in Bomb and Nerve. He lives in California.


Although there are obvious biblical allusions in Baer's stylized debut, this noir tale takes no clearly biblical route. The characters' names promise a governing metaphor: there's Jude, an alluring sociopath; Eve, a black-tongued lesbian; Rose White, a virginal med student; and a bowling alley called the Inferno. There's also a beautiful young man afflicted since birth with HIV (born to die) who begs for a kiss before his demise. Even the title foreshadows a betrayal of biblical proportions. Yet this unrelentingly dark story, set in Colorado and Texas, features mostly underworld characters and a surreal sense of reality. Narrator Phineas Poe, a former investigator for the internal affairs division of Denver's police department, offers only a hallucinatory account that is both compelling and confusing. Just released from a psychiatric hospital, he meets Jude, has sex and awakens in a tub full of ice. He discovers that she's cut into him and stolen one of his kidneys. Despite his weakened state, he tracks her down. On his way, he encounters the Blister, a corrupt cop who reveals that Jude replaced his kidney with a bag of heroin and is using him to smuggle dope. Should the bag dissolve, Poe will die. Should he remove it, he might find a bomb. On the other hand, Jude may be exploiting him as a live carrier of his other kidney for efficient delivery to the man with the money. Poe definitely has problems, not the least of which is the haunting memory of his wife's wretched death. His dilemma only worsens when he joins Jude in her nefarious career, falls in love with her and anticipates her betrayal. Yet she's not what she seems and where they ultimately end up provides this intriguing tale with a quirky, redemptive glow. Editor, Courtney Hodell; agent; Daniel Mandel. Author tour. (Oct.)

Not for the faint of heart, Kiss Me, Judas starts off bloody and zooms nonstop to a gripping climax. Baer's minimalist debut novel is reminiscent of a Quentin Tarantino film‘dark, graphic, and twisted‘but without the quirky humor. Phineas Poe, an ex-Internal Affairs cop, walks straight out of a mental hospital into his worst nightmare: after drinks with a mysterious woman, he comes to in a bloody, ice-filled hotel bathtub‘missing a kidney. "If you want to live, call 911," reads the note left with him. Poe breaks out of the hospital in search of Jude, his seductress, unsure of whether he will kill her or have sex with her and then kill her. Flashbacks and hallucinations, drug-induced and otherwise, hint that Poe has more to deal with than organ-stealing vamps: namely, the bizarre circumstances of his wife's death. A paranoid thriller; for public libraries.‘Christine Perkins, Jackson Cty Lib. Svcs., Medford, OR

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