Adam B. Vary
January 16, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST


Current Status
In Season
Jilliane Hoffman
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a C+

On page 107 of Hoffman’s gratuitously dour debut, a cop makes a throwaway joke about ”Kiss the Girls.” Warner Bros. has already bought the film rights, so go ahead and picture Ashley Judd as top Miami prosecutor C.J. Townsend, up against a sadistic serial killer. To her horror, C.J. realizes he’s also the man who brutally raped her 12 years before, an incident told in an agonizing 34-page opening that alternates between viewpoints of the unwitting victim (then a law student) and the depraved perp. Hoffman’s clear empathy for C.J.’s plight — and desire for revenge — saves the character from endless victimhood. But Hoffman, a former assistant state attorney, buries us with repetitive dramatic evidence (C.J. is constantly in some dizzying mental distress) only to introduce a last-minute twist that reads like lukewarm Thomas Harris.

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