Just started Vickie Lester’s It’s In His Kiss yesterday. Some 40 pages in, ‘the crime’ that would become the centerpiece of the plot was discovered. But oddly enough, if it hadn’t occurred, and never did, I wouldn’t have minded at all. Why? Because I was perfectly content and enjoying Lester’s novel so much already, ‘mystery-less’ as it was thus far.
Vickie Lester (lets assume that’s a pen name, but hopefully acquired in a less brusque manner than Janet Gaynor’s Esther Blodgett did in the classic 1937 A Star Is Born) has a way with words. That much is clear from page one. She’s created a lead character for her novel that you want to like and want to know more about, even if the character isn’t particularly heroic, quirky or unique.
It’s In His Kiss’ Anne Brown is the non-Hollywood daughter of an aging but still influential Hollywood mogul and his alcoholic ex-model/ex-wife. Anne travels from her NYC home to LA to discuss a possible film adaptation (or at least an option renewal) on an older novel of hers that she herself considers non-film material. But, a check’s a check.
Virtually on arrival, she’s swept up in a very unexpected whirlwind romance with a handsome, charming agent who shouldn’t necessarily be looking out for her interests (which involve all sorts of shenanigans with her novel, the film rights and more). But no sooner than the romance commences, the Mr. easy-on-the-eyes and good-in-the-sack is discovered dead, with a potent drug cocktail in his system. The dead amour is the son of a wacky Phil Spector-style retired music mogul, had thus far not been particularly into the ladies, but was unquestionably in love with our Anne (puzzling, since she’s no bewitching seductress). So, why the sudden switch from boy-toys to gals? Why would a clean living fellow be dabbling with killer drugs? Why all the mystery about the rights to Anne’s old novel? Why-why-why?
Well, I’m just shy of page 100, so I can’t tell you.
And I wouldn’t anyway. Read it yourself. A glance at It’s In His Kiss’ cover art wouldn’t necessarily alert you that this novel is a yummy kind of So-Cal/Hollywood/Dishy Neo-Noir, but it is, and in a good way…yet, skillfully crafted by a capable word-smith, not just some name-droppy beach read. I don’t know who ‘Vickie Lester’ really is, but then ‘Kyle Marffin’ is one of several pen names that I use, so I don’t need to know. I’m just glad that I happened to stumble across her blog at WordPress and started following her, that she’s written a damn fine novel here, and that I hope there’ll be more to come.
Go look for this book and get it.