Monday, January 7, 2013

Review: KISS & DIE by Lee Weeks

Kiss & Die (Detective Johnny Mann, #4)The fourth Johnny Mann novel continues to expand on the diverse heinous subject matters of the previous instalments (THE TROPHY TAKE, THE TRAFFICKED, DEATH TRIP). From people trafficking, serial killers who take macabre trophies from their victims, to Triad warfare and illicit snuff films – Lee Weeks maintains a freshness to the Hong Kong police procedural series ensuring each situation Mann faces is unique yet linked by a broader sense of continuity.

Mann is one hell of a character, plot aside; it’s his story that drives the series. Still recovering from his father’s involvement in the Triads as a successful businessman, Mann himself also operated as an undercover operative in the criminal underworld, infiltrating the Triads and living the life – a fact his brothers in arms haven’t forgotten. Not only does Mann have personal connections with the criminal underworld, his fellow police still question his commitment to the right side of the law. Lee Weeks exposes Mann’s history in KISS AND DIE to the point where Mann himself questions his allegiance – in part due to failed ops and the conniving and sassy Victoria, daughter of Triad crime boss CK who uses her womanly arsenal to seduce the seemingly incorruptible cop.

Brimming with violence and exploitation of minority groups living in squalor, KISS AND DIE introduces Mann to a whole new world of pain and suffering. The inhabitants of the notoriously poor and criminally-inflicted community of the Mansions are being overrun by a new kind of fear – youngsters out to impress the Triad bosses. Delusions of grandeur and an overwhelming thirst for blood results in many causalities without cause. It is within this decaying environment, Ruby, a sadistic serial killer like no other flourishes, murdering foreign businessmen in vivid stomach churning detail – perhaps Weeks’ crowing achievement at capturing a killers essence. Mann and his team face adversity at every point of the investigation with only street smarts and persistence knocking down the barriers.

KISS AND DIE is a great read. The plot is straightforward and throws up a twist here and there (with a particularly nasty revelation at the end of the book), the Triads are more than cardboard cut-out criminals but rather three dimensional and pivotal to the ongoing series, while Mann, himself continues to grow with each instalment as a person and as a cop. Lee Weeks once again entertains with yet another solid entry into the Johnny Mann series. Once again, I’m eagerly anticipating reading the next instalment.

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