John Rector’s The Cold Kiss straight-up fucking hijacked my life, dear reader, and when it drops this summer, I imagine I won’t be alone in my experience. Somebody should set up a fucking online support group right now in preparation for this inevitability, a place where people can talk about how their baby drowned in the kiddie pool or their marriage went to shit because they couldn’t be bothered with anything but finding out what happens next in The Cold Kiss. But don’t be scared, dear reader, just lie back, crack that shit open and let it happen – you’ll thank me when it’s over.
The Cold Kiss is about Nate and Sara, an ex-con and his pregnant girlfriend leaving Minnesota for Reno and a new life together. At a rural Nebraska truckstop they are approached by Syl, a sickly and possibly dangerous man who needs a ride to Omaha. Their judgment clouded by the offer of five hundred dollars, the couple grant him a ride. But on their way there a snowstorm roars through the region and they’re forced to hole up in a motel in the middle of nowhere. When they go to check in, they discover that Syl has died in the backseat during the drive. What’s more, it turns out that heavy suitcase Syl was carrying wasn’t full of clothes but cash – two million dollars in cash, to be exact. This being a noir novel, the two decide to hide the body and keep the money, but you better believe that somebody wants their fucking money back…
Rector brings you into the head of Nate with a wink and a smile then locks the door behind you, imprisoning you in the anxiety-drenched hellscape of Nate’s mind. He’s a decent man suffering from guilt over the death of his brother, excruciating migraines, and fear of his murky future with a new bride and child. When the money is essentially dropped in his lap, he thinks he has the whole future-with-the-wife-and-kid part of his internal struggle all squared away, but when bodies start piling up and sticky situations call for Nate to rise to the grim-as-all-hell occasion, the guilt, migraines and fear threaten to blow brain apart. Nate’s head is a scary place to be, but you won’t be able (nor want to) leave.
The Nerd really doesn’t want to say too much about The Cold Kiss other than that you’re definitely going to want to read this shit. The prose is clean, the characters relatable, and the dialogue is tight as a fucking drum – can’t beat that shit, right? But what will truly keep you captive is the suspension-bridge-cable tension of this beast, the way at each new development your asshole clenches and your chest feels tight. So check your medicine cabinet before picking up The Cold Kiss, dear reader, because once you get into the deep dark mess at the heart of this book, you’re gonna want to pop beta blockers by the fucking fistful.