Book Review: ‘Kiss Me When I’m Dead,’ by Dominic Piper

5-Stars for ‘Kiss Me When I’m Dead,’ By Dominic Piper

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‘Slick and Compelling’

Kiss Me When I’m Dead, by Dominic Piper, may well be the smartest crime tale I’ve read to date. It’s not only compelling, it’s craftily compelling as the author used his Kiss Me When I'm Deadliterary skills and story-telling abilities with masterful precision.

Chapters are planned out, obviously outlined, and delivered like a film script with the obstacles and intentions clearly recognisable. This is the sign of a veteran writer. Also, I’d say, someone who may have written in the film or TV industry. The chapters begin on the beat and often end with a slick teaser enticing, almost commanding you to read on.

The dialogue is real, smooth, and the narration (PI Daniel Becket’s first-person accounting) is strong and clever.

As a writer and screenwriter, I found so much right with this book it’s difficult for me to elaborate on the neat devices Mr Piper used with such fluency without sounding like a lecturer in a class on Literary Criticism.

If you follow my reviews, you’ll notice I’ve chosen, with this book, to abandon my typical format. I’ve done so as to avoid surrendering spoilers. With a mystery / crime investigation story such as this, with numerous creative twists, I felt I’d be doing the reader and author a potential disservice.

I will say, however, that Daniel Becket’s investigation into the disappearance of a wealthy weapons dealer’s daughter, will take him deep into a very diabolical world where he, and you the reader, will draw conclusions of what’s coming next, feel certain you’re right, then dispense with them when something unexpected evolves.

This, in itself, makes Kiss Me When I’m Dead an outstanding read.

What I liked most:

Story

One can usually tell when a story has been outlined. The scenes are often more precise. They have conflict, and as I described above, clearly identifiable intentions and obstacles.

Mr Piper shows his literary prowess by offering scenes that are miniature stories. Yet another sign of a skilled, veteran writer.

Characters

Mr Piper’s characters are believable, adequately described, and don’t all sound the same. But above all, and more importantly, they’re interesting.

Becket, though the least described physically, comes to life through his first-person narration. He’s talented, confident, slick, great with women (They seem to hit on him wherever he turns) driven and competent.

He’s the consummate hero we guys all want to be. Ethical, moral, resourceful, driven to succeed and smooth with attractive women drawn to him as if by gravity or magnetism.

The sexual theme

Mr Piper obviously wanted this to be a sexy crime investigation story and wrote it quite well. The sexual theme is strong, sensual at times, not overly explicit for this genre, and never overwhelms the main theme. Someone evil may have done something bad to a young girl who, for various reasons, has found herself in a dangerous, often degrading lifestyle.

Criticisms:

I have none. This story held my attention as much as any book I’ve read this year. Actually more!

Summary and Recommendation:

Kiss Me When I’m Dead is a clever mystery, crime investigation story with a carefully handled, well-executed sexual theme. The world in which PI Daniel Becket must delve is prostitution, and, as in real life, one can expect that some of the players are nice and some are not.

Without hesitation, I give Kiss Me When I’m Dead 5-stars and my highest recommendation.

 Review by TE Mark – Writer / Screenwriter

Book Review: ‘Amy Goes Pop,’ by Poppy Goodhead

4-stars for ‘Amy Goes Pop’ by Poppy Goodhead

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‘Stylistic and Playful’

I have no reservation saying, that with all the reading I’ve done before and since college, the two genres I’ve neglected most are horror and erotica. Not for any specific reason, The Complete Adventures of Amymind you. I state, without hesitation, that I am one person on this nutty rock swimming about in space not burdened with any congenital or developmental morality issues. Thank God! There’s just a lot to read in the genres I enjoy and write most. Those being Science Fiction, Adventure, Romantic Comedies, Satire, Historical Fiction and Classics.

In an effort to expand my horizons, something I excel at and do often – simply because I excel at it, I decided to pick out a piece by an erotica writer I found at Twitter (I believe in supporting my fellow writers, BTW – As we all do, right?) and explore this genre and share my review.

So, what did I find with Poppy Goodhead’s AMY GOES POP?

What intrigued me most about this story was that it actually had one. And it was well-devised and well-written too. It also has a subtle wit and youthful playfulness about it I found distinctly enjoyable.

Amy Goes Pop is a fun, often mischievous, piece that along with the vivid sex scenes, has a well-developed sense of humour craftily planted just beneath the surface. Ms Goodhead, I believe, wanted her readers to enjoy themselves while skimming along with Amy and not take her sexual escapades too seriously.

The writer created believable characters, placed them into convincing settings, and allowed her characters to drive the plot forward. This is a standard screenwriting technique, and if I’m correct, Ms Goodhead, if not actively writing for film, has studied the screenwriting craft.

The Story

Amy Summers, the main character, is a between jobs cellist trying to find her way in the Amy Goes Popworld who has also discovered her sexuality. And has consciously chosen to explore it unabashedly.

She’s high-spirited, sharp, introspective, young and impulsive. She rarely questions her sexual desires, and when she does, it’s seldom whether she should or shouldn’t engage with others, it’s whether her overt interests in the engagements will be accepted.

Very noticeable is Ms Goodhead’s crisp, witty writing style. This is revealed early and carried on throughout. She’s clever with her literary devices, understands the need to add conflict in her scenes, and is equally competent with the broad and the more detailed strokes.

What I liked most:

The breezy, playful style.

As I stated above, I believe the author wanted her book to be a fun and slightly frivolous read with a smart sense of humour. i.e. Don’t take Amy too seriously. She’s a high-spirited girl enjoying her sexuality and wanting you the reader to enjoy it along with her.

Criticisms:

One that kept me from giving this a 5-Star rating.

Though the main character, Amy, is well developed, others, in my opinion, were not. A little more work on the secondary and ancillary characters would have added additional depth to this work and awarded the author the chance to develop additional conflict. And, as we all know, conflict = story.

Recommendation:

This is certainly not a book or genre for everyone. It’s well-written, Ms Goodhead is a talented writer who would produce fine lit in any genre she chose, but the sex scenes are explicit, and there will obviously be those who would find this material offensive.

For those of you without those ‘Inherent Morality Issues’ I spoke of, this is an enjoyable read. I give Amy Goes Pop 4-Stars and a High Recommendation.

Review by T. E. Mark – Writer / Screenwriter

Book Review: ‘The Short Stories of Loretta Leslie’

5-stars for ‘The Short Stories of Loretta Leslie’

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1 Called to Account

Loretta Leslie’s opening short story, Called to Account, is an amusing play on the evolution debate. It’s gently sarcastic, intentionally ambiguous, and craftily conceals the author’s personal stand. There’s no heavy religious rant here. Just a writer addressing a serious issue with a great sense of humour. Love it.

Loretta LeslieWhen Charles, we find a bit after the opening it’s Charles Darwin, is called upon in the afterlife to account for his Earthly activities, he will face difficult questions. And he’ll perform admirably even while addressing the omnipotent, omniscient I AM That I AM. (The Almighty – maybe)

The dialogue is clever, the wit laudable and the touch on such a delicate issue is crafty and almost mischievous.

What I liked most, was the way the author described the Eternal being, I AM. Witty, casual and with a precocious sense of humour. About mankind, and himself. (Why-oh-why must organised religion present God as dark, intransigent, mysterious and gloomy?)

I also liked the nifty twist at the end which gives just a hint of the author’s true stance on the creation vs evolution, religion vs science, oh-so-tiresome-and-weary argument.

Read the very end of this one 2x.

2 Super Heroes Bad Day

The Supers are back. This time arguing over chocolate, (But not really) human reluctance to tackle and solve global warming (Really) and ultimately being called upon, yet again, to save the world.

I just love the satirical nature of this piece and applaud Ms Leslie for using “supers” to present her argument that humans have such a thin grasp on reality, and such tragically misguided priorities it’d be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic.

3 And So Ended the Day of Men

A crafty little reproach of man’s short-sightedness and egotism. Also his unwarranted, convenient and often creative idealism.

In this clever short, the author takes an environmentalist poke in a nifty dialogue between strip miners over a book of Prophecies.

The slight is rational, thinly veiled and flippant. Also humorous. If we are to assume prophecies are inescapable, as Ms Leslie’s thesis goes, then what’s the point in the debate? Or, what’s point in even considering the debate. It’s a done deal. There is no debate. Board the bloody transports once we’ve trashed this planet and hope like hell we find another one we can trash.

This piece resonated with me as it underlines how ludicrous and moronic we are when we use shallow, convoluted arguments to submit ourselves to a rationalised doctrine or political platform i.e. “Our position is well supported, rational and justified, we just need a little time to slice, dice, mince and mash a few details that will provide the adequate support, rationale and justification for what it is we’re already doing – probably, ideally and most assuredly for profit and gain.”

 

Summary and Recommendation:

It’d be difficult, I believe, to name someone who enjoys clever satire more than I do. These three pieces are gems. Five stars and my highest recommendation.

 

Review by T.E. Mark – Author

You can find Loretta Leslie’s trio of short stories at: https://www.lorlesediting.com.au/