Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Last Kiss by S. J. Rozan

“The Last Kiss” by S. J. Rozan, Dangerous Women Edited by Otto Penzler, Mysterious Press, Trade Paperback, $13.95

This is a story about a “Black Widow.” The difference being that in this case she’s doing the world a favor by targeting only lawyers. Unfortunately she doesn’t kill them she just ruins them. She lures them into making love to her, then talks them into making bad investment decisions for her. Later when she has enough ammunition she files charges against them with the Bar Association and the police. She’s looking for one particular type of attorney. One that will do what she really wants done.

Ms. Rozan tells the story from the viewpoint of the Black Widow’s latest victim. She draws him into her web just as she has done with at least four others, though he doesn’t know about them until after she springs her trap on him. She has finally found the right lawyer. He does what she has been waiting for. But the payoff isn’t what he expects.

This story is a textbook example of setup and payoff. In this case the setup is “a kidskin portfolio with a tiny silver lock” that she gives Our Hero at their first meeting. The payoff, revealed at the end of the story, is the contents of that portfolio. The contents show that the Black Widow is a demon for planning.

I’m not sure why I liked this story. I didn’t like it a lot. The language was a little too literary for my taste and seemed awkward in places, but nonetheless, Ms. Rozan has raised this story above the average.

In short, I liked it enough even though I’m not sure why.