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by Carol Anne Davis
DoNot Press, March 2003
288 pages
ISBN: 1904316093

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Everything's going really well for 24-year-old Ben, especially on the romantic front. He's just become involved in a promising relationship with 39-year-old Dawn, who is separated from her husband, Richard. However, on this particular evening, Dawn is in a mood, and she sends Ben home before any romance even begins.

Ben walks through a park in Salisbury and is approached by a young man who smells of chemicals. At first, Ben thinks that he is being mugged. He can't believe that the man even wants his pants, until he realizes that he is not being robbed but raped. After this horrific violation of his body, he stumbles home and descends into a deepening depression, drinking away the pain and avoiding all human contact. He can't tell anyone about what happened, as the humiliation is too great.

The man who raped him, Nick, is a gym nut who is heavily into steroid use. He survives by living off other people, and when they don't help him, he finds new victims. After raping Ben, he attacks a woman in the park and kills her. Nick really lucks out when a witness describes a disoriented and bloody Ben leaving the park at about the time of the murder.

The suspense builds to dizzying levels as we watch Nick spiral out of control while the media declares Ben guilty of Nick's crimes. The seed is planted for Nick to intersect with Dawn and her friend Angela. The reader knows it's going to happen, but Davis pulls all the stops out for the deadly encounter.

I found this book unputdownable. There's a quote on the book jacket which says, 'Scotland's leading queen of suspense', and I find that label well-deserved. Davis excels at building tension, and the pace is unrelenting. She treats Ben's rape with sensitivity, and I found that aspect of the book quite unique, to see the impact of that kind of attack on a man rather than the usual female rape. I also liked how the author developed the character of Nick. He had the usual abusive childhood, but she didn't waste any of our sympathy on him and his deplorable outlook on life.

KISS IT AWAY is a book in the catalog of The DoNot Press publishers in the UK and distributed in the US by Dufour Editions. I've had the pleasure of receiving several of this publisher's books to review in the past and have found that I've enjoyed every single one of them. For the reader who likes their crime fiction on the dark side, I strongly suggest reading the authors published by this group. KISS IT AWAY is the fourth book by Carol Anne Davis, and I highly recommend it to those readers who enjoy noir.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, November 2004

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