Her First Kiss Ends In Murder
Kiss Me Kill Me is a dark and mysterious twist on the chick lit genre. Scarlett sets out to uncover the truth about what happened the night she inadvertently killed Dan McAndrew. Maybe she isn't an expert detective, but Scarlett is determined to clear her conscious and her name.
The Kiss of Death girl. That's Scarlett's nickname, courtesy of the British tabloids. Because she is a minor, the press cannot print her name, but all the girls at St. Tabby's know it was Scarlett and there is no way Scarlett can ever return to school again after what happened.
Scarlett had dreamed about kissing Dan McAndrew. It was one of her wishes for the year, along with growing boobs. Both of her wishes came true, but not at all in the way she imagined.
If only she could go back in time, Scarlett would have turned down Nadia's invitation. She would have said no when Plum's crony invited her to a posh party in her penthouse. After ditching her two best friends from gymnastics for the chance at living the posh life, maybe Scarlett deserved what was coming to her. Looking back, she cringes to think how badly she wanted to fit in with Plum's crowd, to wear the hottest fashions and lust after the hottest boys.
Her first party would be her last. After what happened to Dan, Scarlett will probably never go to a party or kiss a boy again in her life. One minute he was there right in front of her, his strong arms around her body, lips caressing hers. The next, he was dead in her arms. She didn't do anything wrong, but Plum and her crowd blamed Scarlett for Dan's death.
After the tragedy, Scarlett transfers to Wakefield Hall, a school in the country away from St. Tabby's, London, and Plum. All Scarlett wants is to put the horrific past behind her, but then she receives an anonymous note with four simple words that change everything.
"It wasn't your fault."
Lauren Henderson is such a pro at writing for a teenage audience that it's hard to believe this is her first young adult novel! She is like a magician, building suspense and creating a story so vivid it is impossible not to be caught up in Scarlett's mystery.
Kiss Me Kill Me.
Henderson, Lauren (Author)
Jan 2008. 256 p. Delacorte, hardcover, $15.99. (0385734875). Delacorte, library edition, $18.99. (0385904851).
Fans of Libba Bray's books will enjoy this contemporary British murder mystery featuring 16-year-old Scarlett Wakefield, an orphaned heiress who believes that her first kiss kills her longtime crush, Dan McAndrew. Although she is not charged with Dan's death, Scarlett feels responsible, and her subsequent expulsion from her exclusive London private school doesn't help. Scarlett retreats to her grandmother's private girls' school, where she tries to put herself back together and find out who, and what, really killed Dan. Henderson knows how to work a murder mystery. Her pacing and exposition of clues are skillful, and intriguing secondary characters abound. The many Briticisms make sense in context and will not deter American readers. Scarlett is a talented gymnast, and her training episodes capture the sport's excitement and constant striving for perfection. An abrupt ending will leave readers gasping with anticipation for a sequel that will hopefully pick up the fast-paced story's loose threads.
- Debbie Carton
Kirkus Reviews (12/1/2007)
KISS ME KILL ME
Stylish, sassy prose spins a whodunit that doesn't quite satisfy. Sixteen-year-old Scarlett Wakefield suffers from the usual teenage-girl angst: to be part of the popular crowd and to kiss Dan, one of the most popular boys in her class. When these wishes are granted with an invitation to a posh party, Scarlett finds herself among the glitzy girls and their upscale lifestyle and in the arms of her adored Dan. When she and Dan kiss, he suddenly, horribly dies of anaphylactic shock. Nicknamed "the Kiss of Death Girl," Scarlett is sent to live with her grandmother at Wakefield Hall. Finding an anonymous note in her desk, she discovers that she may not be to blame for Dan's death and finds herself embroiled in mystery. Reminiscent of a young Stephanie Plum, Scarlett's sharp sense of self-deprecating humor shines. While a breezy blend of mystery and mean-girl fun, Henderson's offering doesn't provide its reader enough of a resolution to be fulfilling; they may be disappointed to work their way through to find that too many threads have been left dangling in order to carry over to a sequel. (Fiction. YA)
I've been incredibly busy over the last few months - having moved to London with the husband and cats, we've been house-hunting, which is not exactly an experience guaranteed to make anyone's marriage a haven of tranquillity and ease. In fact, it seemed to consist mostly of me screaming at Greg that he wasn't doing enough, and Greg yelling at me that I was being unbearable. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much par for the course even on the best days. Ah well. As this goes to press, as it were, we have decided against the insanely expensive maisonette in our dream area, because of its insane expensiveness, coupled with the fact that though it had two fantastically gorgeous bathrooms, our surveyor pointed out that there wasn't enough water pressure actually to have a proper shower in either of them - which, if your husband has been used for years to fabulous American power showers, is a big problem. Also there was a tree trying to tear the house up from below.
So we have gone instead for the much less expensive garden flat in a much less salubrious area, calculating that this way we have a fighting chance of staying together as there will be less tension about money, whinges about expensive yet pointless showers, and nightmares about trees eating us from below. Also we will be able to afford a ping-pong table and have a garden big enough to put it in! Yay! Am flicking through the John Lewis catalogue already and staring lustfully at garden table sets. And the cats, who had never seen, let alone rolled in, grass, before we moved to London, will get to see Nature on an even larger scale. Snow completely freaked the ginger one out…
Oh yes, the writing. You're probably all more interested in that, frankly. Well, I have been polishing my Young Adult novel, Kiss Me Kill Me, for what feels like years, and finally my editor at Delacorte (in the US) has pronounced it pretty much done. So hopefully it will now sell in the UK, and round the world, and I am going to get to work on the sequel soon. It's about a 16-year old girl who kisses the boy of her dreams at a party, her first-ever kiss, only to have him drop dead at her feet. Everyone blames her, but no-one can work out what killed him. So unless she solves the mystery herself, she'll never feel safe kissing anyone again… it's a series in which the main mystery runs over a sequence of books, but parts of it get solved in each instalment to keep you temporarily satisfied, but also guessing at what will come next! That's the idea, anyway. My heroine is called Scarlett Wakefield and the series will be known as the Scarlett Wakefield Mysteries. She's a gymnast, and her best friend is a rock climber/wannabe PI, so there's a lot of action and adventure, which are a ton of fun to write. Also quite a lot of hot boys, ditto.
I'm also working on a synopsis for a thriller/blockbuster Big Novel for my UK editor at Random House. And I contributed a short story to a charity anthology which decided to put on the cover an old woman and an old man, the latter fully clothed and the former with one dangling old bosom hanging out. So I made them take my story out again. Honestly, I expected less sexism from the purveyors of a charity anthology! So that was pretty disappointing.
Oh, and my reading with Vicki Hendricks in London went really well. Despite it pouring cats and dogs, enough locals came out to fill the room nicely, and I read a short story (My Name's Lola, and I'm Addicted To Gay Men) which turned out to be a monologue, and quite successful. Vickie was over here to promote her latest novel, Cruel Poetry, and she read a suitably Hendricks-filthy extract from it to great acclaim. The microphone rather got in the way, but Greg managed to take a couple of photos…Stella
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I've written two books in the past eighteen months, so I've been slacking compared to Lauren, but I've also been in a show at the National Theatre, recorded a radio quiz series, written my own solo show, guested a few times with the Comedy Store Players and done an ever-so-odd (but brilliant) week's theatre workshop with acclaimed Japanese director Hideki Noda. Finally, someone to give the Japanese editions to!!
And I've been to Brescia, Milan, Frontignan, Beverley, Watford, Harrogate and Thessaloniki for book events. (See Route 66 for photos and more!) I've also written four short stories and been a judge for the CWA Short Story Dagger this year -- and I'm far too sober right now to discuss the judging process.
Upcoming: more work with Italian band Fiamma Fumana, performing Breaststrokes (my solo show) at BAC in South London from 23 November - 12 December, starting a new novel for Virago, and rejoicing in the publication of two books in 2005 -- Parallel Lies for Virago in February and Mouths of Babes for Serpent's Tail in July. And the Auckland Writers and Readers Book Festival in New Zealand in May, followed immediately by the Sydney Book Festival. In Sydney.
And yes, I have made some ads for the telly. Plus, while we're pushing progeny, I became a great-aunt for the ninth time. (I know, it's amazing, I look far too young for it to be remotely possible, etc etc. There is, however, a very ugly portrait in the attic …) None of the children in question are named after planets.