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The Serpent's Kiss : A Novel Hardcover – July 8, 2003
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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.
Nelson DeMille The Serpent's Kiss pulls you, guts-first, right through to the back cover. --atria
Top customer reviews
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.
The second point? It's a little over halfway through the book, when Sullivan switches locales from the deceptively beautiful streets of San Diego to the backwoods of rural Alabama. Sullivan captures the area and some of its residents so perfectly that you would swear you were reading a diary of his own experiences. And maybe you are...you never know.
But the story! Ah, let's not forget the story! THE SERPENT'S KISS begins with a naked victim tied to a bed and subjected to a slow, excruciatingly painful death by snakebites. The murderer leaves an obscure quotation written on a mirror, but there almost no other clues. The investigation follows a number of twists and turns that include Internet chat rooms, television show hosts, captive reptile enthusiasts, and rapper crime lords --- but each potential thread of the investigation results in a dead end. Moynihan, and the San Diego police force, are in a quandary, one that is made worse while the killer strikes again and again, seemingly able to roam at will. The investigation appears to hit an insurmountable roadblock until a similar murder that occurred decades before in rural Alabama seems to provide the motivation behind the murders and the identity of the murderer. But Sullivan and THE SERPENT'S KISS ultimately keep the reader, as well as Moynihan, guessing until the very end.
Moynihan is a sympathetic and believable character who has just enough trouble balancing the professional and the personal to seem all too real. If by the conclusion of THE SERPENT'S KISS you want him back, you'll be happy to know that this is only the first in a series of what promises to be riveting books featuring Moynihan. Oh, one other thing. Given the phallic imagery associated with snakes, THE SERPENT'S KISS is somewhat erotic, to say the least. And there's a money paragraph or two near the conclusion that is a definite water cooler moment. It'll have you checking the bed before the lights go out for at least a few nights --- at least. But THE SERPENT'S KISS is worth it.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
This well crafted tale takes you in to the kinky world of erotic and twisted sex, black market herpetology, cults and a Biblical mystery that is a shocker.
Sargent Moynihan is top notch, tough, stubborn, handsome, and can turn the ladies' heads. He's a character that is realistic, has his troubles with the death of his father, dealing with his divorce and ten year old son. However, he works like a well oiled machine when working with his team of detectives solving cases. The characters are riveting, the prose excellent--all in all a prize package. Best of all this is the first in a series about Semus Moynihan. Hold onto your hats readers as it's a wild and bumpy ride from start to finish with an electrifying ending that is unforgetable.
I'm a romance reviewer who also loves mysteries. After discovering Mark Sullivan I'm a dyed-in-the-wool fan now. I'm making a bee-line to track down the rest of his books. I have LABYRINTH on my nighttable to read next. Go to your nearest bookstore or order online. Yes, he is that good!
Most recent customer reviews
Mark T. Sullivan never disappoints and this time I think he has exceeded his previous best.Read more