Sunday, 29 August 2010

COLD KISS by John Rector

I watched an online interview with author John Rector about his first novel to be published in the UK, Cold Kiss, and was determined to read it at the earliest opportunity as good words are spreading fast about this great, tight, suspenseful tale.

Comparisons have been made linking it to The Shining and A Simple Plan, amongst others, making the novel all the more intriguing as to what is actually would be and what the central theme is.

The book jacket, seen here, with the tagline “Fear never travels alone…’ again leaves the reader somewhat open as to whether this is going to be a straight crime novel, something tinged with the supernatural or something else entirely.

As has been customary with me of late, I always try to get the first twenty pages or so of a new book underway the night of finishing a previous title – with Cold Kiss I was 65 pages in before drawing breath.

The tale was made all the more spooky when, at the halfway point, I mentioned on twitter what a great book it was so far, and got a direct message back from the author saying he was pleased I was enjoying it – a very surreal moment but a sign of these technological times I guess.

In fact, technology is the only thing I would take slight issue with as, the novel appears to be in present day, and yet there were moments, particularly at the beginning, where I wondered why there were no mobile phones used. But that is such a minor gripe in what was an absolutely cracking read from beginning to end.

The story is that of Nate and Sara, a young couple seeking a new life for themselves who happen upon a sick man, Syl, in a diner at the start of a heavy snowstorm. The early scenes of the Syl’s suffering
Made me wonder if this was going to be a virus based tale – possibly something along the lines of The Stand.
But then the story twists and Syl becomes a mysterious hitchhiker in their car – instantly recalling the evil acts of a certain Rutger Hauer in that classic movie – but, even then, the author manages another twist involving two million dollars in the dying man’s luggage – and suddenly we’re into A Simple Plan territory – but it doesn’t end there.

In Cold Kiss, you get a tale of revenge, mystery, horror, action, thriller, mysterious motel, meth dealing and an anti-abortion campaigner, plus a small cast trapped by a heavy storm all thrown into the mix. And it is all so finely crafted that I genuinely had no idea what twist was about to come next.

The characters are very well drawn for a relatively short novel and created real sympathy with this reader for their plight and the decisions they have to make along their journey through the story.

Simon Kernick’s quote on the cover pretty much says it all; ‘You know something bad’s going to happen and just have to keep reading…’
I’d agree with that entirely, but would add that I had no idea just how many bad things were about to happen and just what a twisty-turny ride John Rector had set me on from the first page.

It’s not strictly speaking John Rector’s debut novel – that was his self-published The Grove as an Amazon Kindle download with #1 bestselling results – but this first UK paperback release is clearly destined to play a major calling card for him.

In short…I loved it (just wish I’d written it).

Published in paperback by Pocket Books – Simon & Schuster UK.

Keith B Walters

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