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on 11 February 2005
Phineas Poe, an alcoholic, drug addict, and former investigator for the Internal Affairs Division of the Denver Police Department, was just released from a state psych ward where he landed when his wife, Lucy, was killed in an accident last spring. She may have committed suicide, she was slowly dying from leukemia and had been depressed. Or her death may have been the result of a boating accident. Or Phineas may have shot her, an act he occasionally hallucinates. The reader never actually learns the facts behind Lucy's death. They're not what's important here.
This surreal, very edgy noir novel opens around Christmastime, with Poe drinking vodka at a hotel bar. A stunning woman in red sits down beside him. Her name is Jude. "She has a scar at the edge of her mouth and disturbing eyes. Her body is like a knife." It has been too long since he sat so close to a woman. The two go up to his room. She is $200. richer before they open the door. Whenever he awakens, he does so in a tub filled with melting ice and watery blood, minus a kidney. The lovely lady has absconded with a vital organ and left our hero oozing, but neatly sutured...er stapled. She also left a note for Poe - "If you want to live, call 911."
Events only become more bizarre as the tale continues. Poe leaves the hospital way too soon, nauseous, weak, still bleeding and barely able to walk. He has to find Jude. She has stolen his heart along with the kidney. Definitely smitten, Phineas wants one more tete-a-tete with this scalpel wielding woman. He wants her body, along with some champagne, before he finally kills her. Their reunion is his ultimate goal, although he is so high and hallucinatory most of the time, that occasionally the two are together and Poe is unaware of it. Phineas would like to recover his kidney too, and see if it is possible to reinsert it back where it belongs. He calls his friend Crumb, proprietor of a local sex shop, The Witch's Teat, who practices medicine on the side. Crumb takes care of gunshot wounds and even dental work, for the cheap and the desperate. He is not a doctor, or even a past med student, but he does have a closet filled with old medical texts. He is certainly able to dispense friendly advice, check on Poe's wound...and even better, give him morphine for the pain. Somewhere around this point, Poe discovers he may, or may not, have a bag of heroin stuffed inside him where his left kidney used to live. The heroin is payment for the organ Jude stole and was supposed to have delivered. Did she deliver?
Poe and Jude hook up, finally, and go on an implausible mission together with an objective I am not totally sure of - but it doesn't matter. It's the getting there that's important -the things that happen along the way. Look at the "Wizard of Oz!" From Denver to Las Vegas to El Paso, the two meet a succession of sinister, twisted men and women who usually wind up dead: Crumb, Eve and Georgia, Rose White, Moon, Blister, Pooh, Luscious Gore, etc.. One needs to suspend disbelief to get into this paranoid nightmarish scenario. And when one does, it all fits into place nicely. I had a blast reading this rather compelling novel and intend to read Will Christopher Baer's other two Phineas Poe books, "Penny Dreadful" and "Hell's Half Acre."
Baer's first-person narrative, sometimes dreamy, sometimes incoherent, always strong, is perfect here once the reader is able to loosen up and go with the flow. What does that mean, actually? Well, reading "Kiss Me Judas" is like having a fascinating conversation with an intelligent person who often hallucinates. Jude pumps Phineas full of liquid Valium and morphine, for pain and to control him, so his mind does wander far and wide, and he is the one telling the story - with great flair and occasional confusion. Once you get the rhythm and understand the tangents, it works. Trust me! This quirky novel is well worth the read. And I loved the conclusion - it suits!
JANA
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on 10 July 2001
Wonderfully flowing story that follows the unfortunate trials of Phineas Poe as he tries to discover what happened to his stolen kidney.
Not everyone appears as they seem in a fluid plot which encompases Phinaes's dark past with an uncertain and harrowing future unfolding out in front of him in the shape of the terrifying and luscious Jude.
This book had me riveted from start to finish. Bought as a complete gamble because of the Poppy Z Brite quote on the front i shall be buying his next book very soon. a real gem of a triller/horror.
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on 6 December 2015
Interesting - I seem to be having a run of what I like to call drug addled 'stream of consciousness' books at the moment. Kiss Me Judas flickered between hard work and okay throughout my reading of it. It all starts when disgraced cop Phineas Poe wakes up post a one-night stand in a bathtub of ice and blood missing a kidney and the novel follows his relationship with said missing organ and its keeper, Jude. None of the characters are particularly appealing and it's sometimes hard to work out who's real and who's not. While it wasn't completely my cup of tea, the plot managed to lurch its way to a satisfactory sort of ending and so it gets a 3-star rating.
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on 17 June 2000
Will Christopher Baer has succeeded in taking this urban legend to the limit. From the moment we wake with Phineas Poe - naked and violated in a blood-stained bathtub full of ice - Kiss Me, Judas opens the door to an underworld seeped in depravation. It's true that several variations on this popular theme have emerged over recent years, but I doubt that many can boast such a mix of wit, grit and thought-provoking surrealism. Poe's drug-tarred struggle to accept his wife's death, whilst falling for the woman who has become his doctor, lover and attacker, is beautifully told. Jude is both the angel and devil incarnate - a staple in the ex-cop's side as he balances on the edge between blurred reality and mental instability. But read between the lines and Kiss Me, Judas is more than just a thriller, more than just a love story, more than just a tale of drugs and lust - it lifts the taboo on a host of subjects that most of us would be happy to forget but, perhaps, do well to remember. Although the ending is more bizarre than it is climatic, this book deserves full marks for freshness and originality. Baer's writing style ensures an easy read; snappy dialogue and short, punchy paragraphs make this a dangerous book to put down.
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on 3 July 2000
About as Noir as seems possible, Baer's novel portrays a narrator who has seemingly reached rock-bottom - widower..., post-nervous breakdown, no job, no friends - and somehow takes him down further.
This is a story of twisted memories and realities, unknown motives and capricious actions. Nothing ever gets absolutely resolved. Identity is never constant. The writing is spare and effective, often near-poetic in its simplicity - it almost seems unfair to label this book a thriller for preconceptions over the writer's craft.
Perhaps the only criticism is the initial premise - the urban myth of kidney-thieves everybody's read via e-mail - seems at odds with the originality of the rest of the novel.
Recommended for those who can read unrelentingly dark novels, the closest author in my experience would be Denis Johnson, whose "Resuscitation of a Hanged Man" comes close to this in tone if not content.
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on 22 April 2002
This tale is quite stylised. If you are looking for conventional punctuation, forget it. This book is written such a way that is easy to read and very clear - even though not punctuated in the conventional sense.
The characters are all dysfunctional in their own way and so far from reality it hardly seems possible they have survived in their own insular worlds.
However dysfunctional they are separately they make some kend of sense once fused together. Even though the reader never truly finds out everything about each character and why they do the things they do. Each one seems to have a dark secret that is never really revealed and intrigues the reader to carry on reading the terse dialogue between characters.
A truly gripping tale that questions the human condition...
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on 5 September 1998
I was lucky enough to get my mitts on a proof of KISS ME JUDAS and, boy, while reading it I felt like having a live wire plugged to my brain. Press releases compare the novel to David Lynch's flicks and whatnot, but I think ANY comparison is totally unjust and demeaning. Will Cristopher Baer's book is a true original: a hopiated, hallucinated, darker-than-dark tour thru a surreal world; a doomed love story from hell; a stylistic tour de force. Oh, and don't forget the "noir" slant, too: compared to this gem, Jim Thompson's oeuvre (which I love) looks like something straight out of the Cenozoic age. Gettin' to the point: KISS ME, JUDAS is true literature for the new millenium, and W.C. Baer is going to become a cult figure in no time. Just wait and see.
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on 6 December 2001
I was hooked to this book from the very first page. What struck me about it was the original, striking language and the short, snappy sentences. The imagery the author conjures up is sensational - you can tell that he is definitely not afraid to be experimental with his writing. When I finally came to the last page I was quite upset -I never wanted it to end!
Luckily a few months later another one of his books came out (Penny dreadful), which was also exceptional in its own way.
To conclude, if you want a really mind blowing, satisfying read buy this book a.s.a.p. You won't be disappointed!!!

....and Mr Baer, if you ever read this, I personaly think you are a genius and deserve every penny you get. PLEASE, PLEASE WRITE ANOTHER BOOK SOON!!!
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on 20 September 2005
This is the first book by Will Christopher Baer that I've read and was instantly gripped by it. One thing I can say for certain is that I will be reading more books by Mr Baer (I'm starting Penny Dreadful today. I'm not going into the plot cos I dont want to spoil it for you but i do want everyone to know that this is the best book I have read in propably 5 years and YOU should definity buy it.
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on 14 September 2013
A really brilliant book! Can't wait to read the next in series and the condition and speedy delivery were also great. Very happy customer!
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