on 14 January 2014
Joe Hope sorts problems out, usually by the application of violence with a baseball bat, on behalf of his loan shark boss, Cooper. But for once it’s Joe that has the problem, first his daughter, Gemma, commits suicide. Joe immediately flies to the Orkneys where she’s been living at a writer’s retreat with a relative, Adam. But as soon as he arrives Joe is arrested. The accusation? The murder of his wife, battered to death with Joe’s work tool.
But, there are further complications, Gemma kept a diary in which she’d revealed the reason behind her death – she’d been raped by someone she called ‘Daddy’. But for once Joe is innocent and he sets out to track down the killer.
This is a straightforward, no-nonsense, high quality crime novel which focuses on anti-hero Joe Hope. It’s a well plotted, well written and a very satisfying read. One of the strongest aspects of this novel are the characters. All are well drawn, believable and have a part to play.
First is Joe himself. He’s not the most pleasant of people, sorting out non-payers on behalf of Cooper, often beating them senseless. Joe even keeps a baseball bat in his car. He has a terrible relationship with his wife and instead spends time with a prostitute, Tina (Joe pays her, but interestingly it’s for no more than company) or in the dubious company of Cooper, seemingly his only friend. But despite everything he does have a degree of morality – Joe won’t kill people – interesting, considering murder is the crime he’s accused of. Also of note is that Joe is clearly intelligent, he had been taking a degree before dropping out to work for Cooper, who himself was training to be a lawyer.
Which leads us to Cooper. He’s thoroughly unpleasant and loyal only to himself, and maybe his young son. No one else matters. Tina the prostitute is an interesting character, literally hard-nosed and lived a tough life. They’re ably backed up by Adam (who’s initially wet and useless, but finds some backbone) and Joe’s youthful lawyer, Ronald Brewer.
The plot is also very strong, several story arcs brought together for a satisfying conclusion where everyone gets what they deserved. Joe receives several shocks (on top of the suicide and murder) and perpetually seems to be in an almost constant state of turmoil and flux.
The story is mainly set in Edinburgh. It’s seedy and grim, but then again the characters themselves live this kind of existence – loan shark, thug and prostitute. The scenes suit the narrative. The pace is high and maintained throughout, it’s a real page turner and enjoyable to boot (or should I say bat).
**Originally reviewed for Books and Pals blog. May have received free review copy.**
on 6 November 2013
Joe Hope works on an Edinburgh loan shark named Cooper. If someone owes money to Cooper, Joe (with baseball bat) pays a visit to a debtor. When his daughter, Gemma, commits suicide, Joe blames for this her boyfriend Adam, who did not keep up with Gemma. Furious, Hope flys to the other side of Scotland, where Gemma was living in the complex for writers and screenwriters, organized by Adam. Upon arrival Hope is arrested on suspicion of murder of his wife, Ruth, with whom he had a hard relationship. But Hope did not kill Ruth.
If the action of «Kiss Her Goodbye» was put twenty years into the past, it would be almost perfect revenge novel. But events in the book occur in the middle of 00s, and it hurts credibility of the book. Wanted for the murder, a man walks through the streets of Edinburgh, uses his cell phone, doing everything to get caught. But for the plot Hope should remain out of prison, and all the modern technology remain in the past. Plot instability is compounded by simplicity of the final, although both ends meet, Guthrie is a professional.
Despite the flaws of the plot, «Kiss Her Goodbye» is a very good as a portrait gallery of the lower classes in Edinburgh. Hope, the muscle with a university degree who hates his wife, but not able to fully cheat on her. Hope's lawyer, a young professional, selflessly helping the fugitive. Cooper, greedy on bodies of young girls. Tina, a prostitute, often at night welcoming Joe, the only one whose services he used. All of them are somewhat broken down, all with their flaws, but Guthrie makes them attractive to a reader. Anyone who falls once, not necessarily the fallen man.
There is enough of violence, justified or not, but violence does not shock anyone here, it is everyday life of the heroes of the novel. Whether the book has more elaborate plot, it would become one of the best examples of modern neo-noir. But so - kissed it goodbye and forgot.
on 2 June 2006
Fast paced crime noir novel that I found addictively easy to read. I think the book's strength is that all the main characters (especially Cooper and Joe Hope) are very compelling. His baddies have redeemable qualities (Cooper is a doting father) whilst his heroes tend to be flawed (Joe isn't exactly a model citizen). The plot develops nicely, leading to a tension (and violence)filled denouement. Possibly a slight downside is that when the novel comes to an end, it almost feels like it's ended too soon, and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. But maybe Guthrie's next book will answer that particular question?
on 18 June 2012
This thriller has so much thrust, it pinned me to my reading chair until I tapped out like a little girl. Kiss Her Goodbye? Yes, please. And while you're at it, kiss me again, Mr Guthrie!