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The Serpent's Kiss : A Novel Hardcover – July 8, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From 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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Nelson DeMille The Serpent's Kiss pulls you, guts-first, right through to the back cover. --atria
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Atria (July 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743439821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743439824
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #882,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Sullivan is the author of eight thrillers, including PRIVATE GAMES, which he co-wrote with James Patterson. He was an Edgar Award finalist, winner of the W.H. Smith award for "Best New Talent," and his debut novel, THE FALL LINE, was named New York Times Notable Book of the year, a rare honor for a debut. His next novel with Patterson, PRIVATE BERLIN, launches in 2013 and his next standalone novel, ROGUE, launches in October 2012. He currently resides in Montana with his family.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
67%
4 star
22%
3 star
0%
2 star
11%
1 star
0%
See all 9 customer reviews
This is one terrific thriller!
Michael Butts
It's a riveting read--plenty of suspense, action, twist, and turns, as well as lots of different characters to keep us guessing to the identity of the murderer.
Craig Clarke
Sullivan, however, does flesh him out some, making him an ex-Major League baseball player, and adding some very good and well-drawn side characters to balance.
James A. White

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Discerning Reader on March 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What a fascinating read! The first half of the book seemed like the typical American police procedural--this time set in San Diego. The murders are ghastly, and the subset of individuals who seems to be the chosen victims adds another disturbing twist to the story. Our hero, Seamus Moynihan, is a narcissist and is somewhat hard to like. He's a jock, good with the ladies, drives a muscle car, and spews testosterone in every interaction with another living thing, etc.

Once Moynihan travels to rural Alabama--that's when things get interesting. The deeper he seems to go into those dense, humid forests looking for the house where a tragedy took place 27 years ago (and may be the key to solving the string of San Diego murders), the eerier the story.

The ending is somewhat predictable, but the psychology of the criminal's behavior is plausible enough to warrant our suspension of reality to enjoy a spooky, disturbing police procedural.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James A. White on August 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent new thriller by a wonderful author. The plot concerns a series of bizarre killings in San Diego. Nude men are found strapped to their beds, with evidence of recent sexual actions, with three snake bites on them and strychinnine in their veins. Detective Moynihan ventures into the seamier side of San Diego life, and eventually has to make a trip to the backwoods of Alabama to visit a small-town and a serpent-handling church with its own deep, dark secret.

You'll grimace at the descriptions of the victims (think ebola...) and the fast-paced, but evenly distributed action, will keeps you on the edge of your seat. There's even something for the romantic, with tales of Moynihan's sexual conquests during the book, sometimes getting rather graphic (occasionally unnecessarily so).

The Amazon reviews give the tagline that the book jacket does, extolling it for explaining the mystery of the second woman. I went into the novel thinking it would be rather like the phenomenol "The Da Vinci Code," going in-depth on the Bible's greatest mystery. The second-woman thing isn't really explored in-depth, though. It's not really a time-consuming part of the mystery, and is really only used as a minor clue.

The only main problem in this book is the main character. He's an Irish cop whose father was a cop killed in the line of duty. He's haunted by the memories, is divorced, and his relationship with his son isn't what it could be. Basically, he's a rather stereotypical character. Sullivan, however, does flesh him out some, making him an ex-Major League baseball player, and adding some very good and well-drawn side characters to balance. He also writes with enough style and panache to keep you caring about his slightly hackneyed protagonist, all the way to the gripping, exciting conclusion with even something of an unsolved mystery at the end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Craig Clarke VINE VOICE on June 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mark T. Sullivan has created a winner of a character in San Diego homicide detective Seamus Moynihan. He's complex and conflicted as all get-out--his family life is in a shambles, his career is on the line, and he's got a past that would haunt anybody. His father, also a police officer, was killed in the line of duty and Seamus broke a promise to his mother by also becoming a cop after a traumatic injury cut short his life with the Boston Red Sox. His ex-wife is moving on with another man, he is alienating his son, and he has difficulty with all his relationships. He doesn't always follow his own advice--the book would be shorter if he did--but then what real person does? In addition, he is an effective narrator and he lives on a boat like Travis McGee. All in all, Moynihan is one engaging character--although not always entirely believable (I mean, I like my heroes as flawed as the next guy, but Moynihan has enough for two characters). Sullivan plans to write a series of books starring "Shay" and, at the very least, this is a man we will not tire of visiting anytime soon.

The Serpent's Kiss, however, is another story. It's a riveting read--plenty of suspense, action, twist, and turns, as well as lots of different characters to keep us guessing to the identity of the murderer. Unfortunately, Sullivan attempts to lead his readers down a path that makes sense, then jettisons it at the last moment for a more sensationalist ending. The last quarter of the book--while gripping, informative, and quickly-paced--dampens the effect of the rest of the novel. Nevertheless, I was engrossed to the very end.

A string of sexually-related serial murders is the focus of the investigation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Butts HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Having read Sullivan's previous works including PURIFICATION CEREMONY, I was pleasantly surprised at this genre-changing work. Sullivan should definitely consider more Seamus Moynihan novels.
This one is a firecracker from start to finish. The terrible deaths of these men are graphically depicted, and make the flesh crawl. Sullivan throws several suspects at you, and then saves the best for last.
Seamus is a great character, as is Nick, the television "Crocodile Dundee". The women in Seamus' life give him a little more trouble than most femme fatales.
An explosive book, with a great feel for place as well. Shifting from California to Alabama, Sullivan gives us several spooky and suspenseful scenes.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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