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The blurb on Kiss The Bullet by Catherine Devaney asks, Could you fall in love with the man who killed your family? and it is this interesting question that the book tries to answer.
Ms. Deveney’s prose is beautifully written: the opening fifteen pages are among the most moving and lyrical I have read in a novel. It is almost as if the writer has brought the quality of ‘literary’ fiction to a genre novel. But that word ‘almost’ holds the key for me.
Whereas in literary fiction, plot isn’t necessarily the main drive of the story and more emphasis is made of the characters’ internal journey, genre fiction demands that something happens. And for the first fifty or so pages of this book, nothing much happens.
OK, maybe that’s not quite true. The writer describes in heart-breaking detail the death of the husband and son of Danni, the novel’s protagonist. But there are screeds of Danni’s misery afterwards where all that happens is her going over the event time and time again.
Once Danni gets to Belfast, the pace does increase and we are introduced to Johnny, a broken man with a mysterious past we learn about as the story goes on. So, we have the journeys of two characters who are connected in an important way and… I just didn’t care.
Of the two I found Johnny the more interesting, but neither of them really gripped me. Danni’s actions were the least believable. I just don’t buy that a woman who has spent the past eighteen years mourning her husband and son could so quickly and easily have romantic feelings for the man who made and planted the bomb responsible for their deaths. And the sub-characters of Pearson and Stella could have been lifted from virtually any cop drama we see on TV. I was interested to find out a little more about the history of the Irish struggles and unlike some critics, didn’t feel that Ms. Deveney was too sympathetic towards the IRA.
In conclusion,I was so disappointed that such a beautifully written book could have so little real emotional understanding and depth. I would read more from this writer, but my gut instinct is that she is more suited to literary fiction and should leave crime and terrorism alone.