A Review of Kiss Me Kill Me by James Carol

While I haven’t read every single James Carol book, I have read a fair few and been extremely impressed. Carol has great imagination and also knows how people think, the way that we fall into patterns and repeat mistakes regardless of knowing how things have previously turned out. Kiss Me Kill Me was a quick, enjoyable psychological thriller which used some great techniques to keep readers hooked. A solid 4 stars from me. Kiss Me Kill Me by James Carol will be published by Bonnier Zaffre on 31 May 2018.

The Story
Kiss Me Kill Me by James Carol tells the story of Zoe and Daniel, switching between the past and present tense to show the development of their relationship into the present day prison she is living in as part of their marriage. Zoe is desperate to leave her husband and be free, but cannot do it alone. Unfortunately, helping hands can often turn into something much deadlier, and Zoe is faced with a prison much worse from the one she just broke out of. This is a dramatic psychological thriller which explores themes of marriage, love, friendship and murder.

What I liked…
James Carol knows how to tell a story freakin well. I was hooked and read this thriller in less than 24 hours. The plot is tightly woven and intricately matched so that the reader does not lose sight of events. I enjoyed the fast pace and the fact that you think you know where the story is going before it veers off in several different directions. I’m not sure how much I liked Zoe’s character, in a good way. It felt that Carol did not want the reader to fully trust her, and I enjoyed not constantly going along with her story, but questioning each detail, which I was right to do, it would appear. I thought that Daniel and Gabriel were great in their specific roles, however Gabriel certainly pushed the bar for me, as he had genuine reasons for his actions and behaviour, which made him a slightly more sympathetic character.
Was there much character development? No, but that was the point. This is a story about the human psyche. It delves into the deepest parts of Zoe’s brain and figures out what she would have done differently, but also which mistakes a woman in her situation could easily repeat. Carol finds himself in the psyches of two men who “only want what’s best” and a woman who needs what’s best, but cannot figure it out by herself. As her courage and convictions develop toward the end of the narrative, she becomes slowly stronger and I can enjoy her character a lot more. I liked his use of repetition in some of the men’s actions and the way Zoe thinks about them. Lizzy was the only character whom I fully sympathised with, as I have been in similar circumstances.

What I didn’t like…
Kiss Me Kill Me didn’t fully thrill me. I was tense at the right moments, but there were times when I felt as though I should have been gripping the edge of my seat, but wasn’t. I feel that this was to do with the repetition, as I knew what was coming, but this did throw me a little out of the narrative. Aside from that, the middle section was a little messy, without spoiling anything. Finally, I never understood Daniel’s motivations behind keeping his wife imprisoned and controlling every aspect of her life. We get some meagre flashbacks to his abusive childhood, but aside from this, I just did not get what had led him to abuse Zoe in this way.

Overall, I would recommend this book to all James Carol fans, fans of psychological thrillers and domestic drama narratives and anyone looking for a fast-paced page turner. This is a book which takes an interesting turn away from a could-be generic base plot. It shocks and stirs and definitely takes lots of unexpected twists and turns. Thank you Bonnier Zaffre and NetGalley for my advance e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

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