Book review: Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine

You had to know my next review was going to be for another Morganville Vampires book, and you probably shouldn’t be surprised that the next will be another. As a series, this has to be one of my favorites of all time, with vampires tat are morally ambiguous yet still committed to their methods of staying hidden from most humans. But Kiss of Death may be my least favorite book of the series for what I consider to be a couple of missteps. I’ll get to that soon.

This book opens with Claire and her friends being given passes to leave town and travel to Dallas, where Michael is scheduled to record tracks with a big-time studio. There’s a catch to this gift, not surprisingly, and the group must travel with Oliver acting as their escort. Oliver is riding along for other reasons, and soon everyone else is pulled into his plans when they all go horribly wrong.

What bothered me was what happens when Claire, Eve, Shane, and Michael roll into a little town looking for a place to eat. They are instantly set upon by the locals in what vaguely reminds me of a rehash of Deliverance.

What bugs me about this has to do with personal experience. I’ve lived in several small Texas towns, and it’s highly unbelievable to me that the locals would be this ugly. It’s even harder to believe because all four characters are also from a small Texas town. They’d talk with the same twang, and likely even have some of the same mannerisms. Maybe the locals could have asked, “Where are y’all from?” Then maybe they might be hostile because Morganville has a reputation or something, but the way these chapters play out, it feels extremely unrealistic. There’s also the waitress at the diner, who refuses to serve the group, so it seems like there’s a whole lot of so-called bad apples in this town. No, I just don’t believe it.

The Sheriff feels even more unrealistic, as later chapters claim these few bully characters are bad apples, known in town as troublemakers. But the sheriff instantly takes their side and makes Claire and her friends leave town. I also feel I need to point out another inconsistency, as the Sheriff catches Shane and Claire kissing, checks their IDs, and then asks what Shane is doing messing with an “underage girl.” Uh, no. The age of consent in Texas is seventeen. The cop would know that, and this feels like another moment where an outsider from another state took a guess at something that is pretty easy to find out with a little research.

Once the book moves past this point and gets back into the gory action, it’s a fast read with a somewhat satisfying conclusion. It ties up some loose ends from the previous book, but leaves open one question that I’m sure will be answered very soon in the next.

I’m giving Kiss of Death 3 stars. It’s not a bad story, but like I said, having lived in several small Texas towns, the middle chapters rubbed me the wrong way. It won’t stop me from picking up the next book, Ghost Town, very soon, and I look forward to seeing if I’ve guessed right about that one unanswered question.

Edited to add: After having a night to sleep on it, I’m also now kinda pissed about Claire’s “amazing” proficiency with a compound bow. In just a few minutes after being handed the bow and a quiver, with no tutors, Claire is able to learn pinpoint accuracy and near perfect speed, because “physics.” She doesn’t catch her boob with the first few draws. She doesn’t snap her forearm or wrist. And despite having her wrist slapped hard enough to make it numb, she still fires a perfect shot and saves the day. This is such bullshit. Claire is smart, but NOBODY becomes an expert using a compound bow in a few minutes.