With a Kiss We Die by L. R. Dorn is a fascinating story that is presented through the lens of a true crime podcast called the Raines Report. The protagonist, Ryanna Raines, is a journalist who receives a call on the podcast’s tip line from 1 of 2 suspects in the brutal murder of his parents. These suspects proclaim their innocence and insist that Ryanna needs to be the one to share their story via her platform. Unable to pass up the potential for an epic podcast season, Ryanna agrees to do just that.
Firstly, I want to say that this story is intriguing throughout. The method of telling it, splitting each section up as if it was an episode of the podcast, creates some natural breaks in the story, and allows for a sensible explanation of things like time jumps and recaps. I grew to like this storytelling method a little less near the end, however, as the author began using it for way, way, way too convenient cliffhangers. The endings of each “episode” stopped feeling natural, and more like spots for chapter breaks in a book, which of course they also were. Still, for most of this story, I really liked this presentation.
I should note that I listened to the audio version of this book, and it was done as a full cast presentation. This was, I have decided, both good and bad. It was good in that I enjoy full cast productions. The multi-narrator way of doing things can be neat and help to form character associations. However, in this particular case, it almost wasn’t enough. I believe this book is dying to be an audio drama, not just a full cast audio book. I believe it would’ve been far better if this book was fully, and I mean fully produced as if it really were the Raines Report. There is some production applied to this audio book, but it is minimal, often inconsistent, and never creates the kind of audio immersion I envision for this story.
Most of the casting for With a Kiss We Die is pretty good, though I have to say I wasn’t a fan of one of the protagonists, namely Jordan. He had a couple moments where he shone, but these were typically moments where the character was making a longer speech. The actor chosen for him didn’t seem to be particularly good at individual lines, but when allowed to go uninterrupted for a bit, picked up significantly. The casting for Victoria, on the other hand, is the real standout here. I think she is absolutely fantastic and plays perfectly.
This book does contain a few decent twists and turns, but I have to admit that ultimately it didn’t surprise me. I predicted its ending fairly far in advance. However, I want to stress that I still enjoyed my time with this story. It is mostly well-told, and interesting. Its conclusion is somewhat open-ended, which I quite liked, because it inspires discussion. I can’t help but wonder how others who read it will interpret it. Afterward, there is an author’s note where it is mentioned that the author loves the multi-voice approach. I hope they consider expanding on that idea, because as I said earlier, I believe they could make some fantastic audio drama. All that said, With a Kiss We Die is a fun listen, and I look forward to checking out more from L. R. Dorn.