Written by Luke Murphy — Charlene Taylor is a case of like father, like daughter. Her dad was a highly regarded member of the LAPD, and she was pre-ordained to follow his footsteps. His retirement, as with many such career cops, left a big hole in his life and he has carried on unofficially working unsolved cases. The most high profile of these is that of the the Celebrity Slayer, someone who has slashed to death a succession of Tinseltown’s B-list wannabes. Following up a lead, Martin Taylor is gunned down while sitting in his car in an alley behind a Chinese diner.
Charlene grieves her father’s death but also realises that because of his obsession with the job he was never the father he might have been. When she receives calls and messages purporting to be from the Celebrity Slayer, it is clear that he knows both her and her late father. Despite warnings from her mother, Charlene commandeers all her father’s notes and papers on the case and is determined to link his death with those of the minor celebs.
Her attention is is diverted when she is assigned to what seems to be a very different murder. College professor Ken Anderson is found dead in the house of one of his students. His chest is decorated with two perfectly spaced bullet holes. Investigations reveal that Anderson was a serial seducer with an allegations of rape sitting on file. He was also married to the daughter of one of LA’s richest and most influential movers and shakers, who is quick to surround himself and his daughter with the kind of lawyers who eat mid-ranking police officers for breakfast.
Anderson was also in debt to the mob thanks to his gambling so Charlene is faced with a growing queue of suspects – all of whom have court-proof alibis. Despite the roomful of people who had good reason to want Anderson dead, the list is narrowed down, and results in a dramatic chase across town which ends in tragedy. Charlene’s boss is delighted to wrap up the case, but there are inconsistencies she cannot dismiss.
All is finally resolved when Charlene’s growing suspicion that the Celebrity Slayer is someone close to the LAPD becomes a certainty, and that’s when things get really dangerous for her…
Kiss & Tell is slow to pick up speed as it establishes that Charlene is a brave and resourceful police officer, but a little too dependent on beer and Advil to keep her going. Once the opening pages establish that the Celebrity Slayer is an insider, we just have to play the game of choosing the least likely suspect, and putting our money on him, or her. The story behind the murder of Ken Anderson is the better of the two plotlines as it plays out much more convincingly, and with much more of a twist in the tail.
This is a perfectly readable police procedural, without being anything out of the ordinary. The LA background is convincing enough, but there cannot be a city in the world with which readers think themselves more familiar even without going there. I liked the constructive tension between Charlene and Larry, her bear of a partner, and this may be a cop duo which we will meet again in the future.
CFL Rating: 3 Stars