I originally reviewed Kiss Her Goodbye by Allan Guthrie on November 18th, 2006.
Allan Guthrie presents a surprisingly sophisticated and well crafted tale that subtly weaves in subplots and observations of his characters that keep the suspense going until the final chapters. This is a down and dirty and sometimes mean tale that begrudgingly makes Joe the guy to root for even though he doesn’t seem to have any redeemable qualities other then the tenacity to get to the bottom of his daughters suicide and wife’s death.
My first response to the ending was that it was a little too pat, a little too neat, the way everything wrapped up. But upon later reflection I realized that the ending was perfect as it was a natural continuation of the story arc and grew naturally from the characters involved. Also since the all of the characters have an abundance of unredeeming qualities every single one of them, Joe included, is held in suspicion until the very end. This further adds to the observation of Guthrie’s subtlety as a writer.
Some variation of this could be said about every Euro-noir book that I review but I love that Guthrie pulls no punches when it comes to the slang. He leaves no room for explanation to the American audiences and leaves it up to them to catch on, or not. The slang filled dialogue adds a new speech rhythm that American audiences just aren’t used to. It adds to the lyricism of the books when new turns of phrase are encountered.
Joe as he is presented is a fascinating character. Guthrie has linked his violent tendencies with a total dysfunctional in his life that can be interpreted numerous ways. It’s unclear whether his disfunctionality is a result of his violent tendencies i.e. some form of penance, or whether the violent tendencies are a result of his disfunctionality. He is an alcoholic, he is a horrible husband in a ruined marriage, he is impotent (literally) and he has a dead end job. That Guthrie makes the connection between the two is fascinating that he refuses to clarify or define the relationship is commendable.