Kali’s Kiss by John Dodds

read by Robin Sachs

John Dodds’ second novel, here read, like his first, by Robin Sachs, is undeniably forceful and dramatic. And, for this listener, it is an improvement on his earlier Bone Machines.
In Kali’s Kiss, we encounter for a second time Detective Inspector Tom Kendrick – dour, Scots, unimpeachable – and forensic anthropologist Elizabeth Bell, who is diverted from her academic career to help the policeman with his investigations into witchcraft murders and honour killings.

Dodds’ very contemporary plot brings in gangs, slavery and the illicit drug trade – all against the remorseless backdrop of violent, segregated Glasgow. Dodds’ focus this time is the Asian community, and his story is a cautionary warning of what might, so as not to alienate minority sensitivites, be so easily brushed aside. 

The novel opens vividly with an anonymous young Indian bride, ritualistically slaughtered, with Hindu goddess Kali murderously in the background. And Kendrick is on the hunt for the perpetrators. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the appeal of some of his literary forebears. The writing is fine, and drama and suspense are deftly handled. But the plot cannot sustain the fourteen hours of this audiobook, which might come across better in print.

Kali’s Kiss is good. But it is overblown and over long – a baggy monster that would have benefited from tactful editorial restraint.

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