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Kiss Me, Judas (Phineas Poe #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,388 Ratings  ·  211 Reviews
Will Christopher Baer's hypnotic debut novel merges the best of the noir tradition with a scalpel-sharp modern sensibility. When ex-cop Phineas Poe is released from a six-month stay in a Denver psychiatric hospital, he meets a savage and unsentimental woman named Jude. After a drunken night with her, Phineas awakens in a bathtub packed with ice, holding a soggy note that r ...more
Trade Paperback, 268 pages
Published February 1st 2000 by Penguin Books (first published 1998)
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Mark Ulissi Not a spoiler as it happens in the first series of events. She takes his kidney and leaves him in a bathtub. So, yes.
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Gregor Xane
Feb 21, 2015 Gregor Xane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
The jumping off point for this novel isn't particularly original. It's something that seems like (or may even be) an urban legend. The main character goes back to his hotel room with a prostitute he's met at a bar and the next morning wakes up in a bathtub full of ice with one less kidney to his name.

But I've long been a sucker for this oft-told tale and all of its variations, so I must admit this was a large part of why I picked this thing up.

Even still, I was a bit apprehensive. This is adver

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Well, this was different!

Kiss Me, Judas, classified as "noir", gave me the creeps the impression I was watching Sin City .
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This book made little sense, but managed to keep me entertained. I won't talk about the story. You have the blurb for that. Instead, I'll just list some of my likes and dislikes.


The writing : Phineas Poe's 1st person narration is funny, graphic and crazy, because most of the story he is drugged out of his mind and hallucinates, making it difficult for the reader to
Mar 20, 2010 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me preface this by saying that I liked Baer's writing quite a bit here. What I didn't like was

Phrases like 'furious silence' pepper the pages and are more than enough to keep me reading when when I stopped giving a shit about the plot a third of the way in. See, the story is told in the first person, and that person may or may not be crazy. Combine that with the fact that every other character seems to have a hidden agenda (or maybe doesn't). So the reader is never QUITE sure wha
May 06, 2011 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
So I finished this book days ago and certain scenes have begun to fade. I really should stick to writing reviews the day after I finish a book. I try to include at least one night's sleep between finishing and reviewing but this has been an overly hectic week all around.

So, like I said, a certain amount of fading has happened yet how I felt while reading is still pretty strong and I really have only good things to say in that area. The first chapter sucked me in, aroused my interest. The idea o
Colin McKay Miller
Four stars.

Omnibus review:

Will Christopher Baer is a more respectable version of Chuck Palahniuk. They’re very similar—both are dark, first-person storytellers with a predilection for the twisted underworld of sex and violence—but I’d place Baer more on the side of dark storyteller and Palahniuk on the side of shock writer. Plus Palahniuk bled one narrator into (many, but for sure his initial) four novels; Baer just accepted his love for that voice and made a trilogy.

The Phineas Poe trilogy—Kis
Nov 17, 2010 Brandon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of noir fiction
Recommended to Brandon by: Matt Hardy
Shelves: fiction, 2010
Plot: Have you ever loved someone who's mortally wounded you? Phineas Poe, disgraced cop and morphine addict, has just been released from a psych ward when he meets a beautiful woman named Jude in a hotel bar. Red dress, black hair, body like a knife. He takes her back to his room and wakes the next morning in a bathtub full of blood and ice, missing a kidney. Dragging himself from a hospital bed, Phineas discovers he wants to be with Jude like a hunger and he wants to find her and kill her. Fal ...more

What did I just read? I'm so confused. I had high hopes. The plot sounded so interesting. I was hoping for a strange, dark, twisted kind of story à la Chuck Palahniuk. This was strange, all right, but it was also bad.

I strongly disliked the writing style of this book. How do you make such short sentences sound so rambling? No descriptions, no quotation marks. I felt utterly lost. Throughout the entire book, I had no idea what was real and what wasn't real. And, yeah, I get it. I wasn't su
Jun 30, 2009 Annie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kiss Me Judas had me constantly feeling as though I'd stepped off a mental Tilt-A-Whirl. While it's never confusing, it's often confounding and Baer gives the reader just enough information to keep up with the wild pace. Kiss Me Judas is dark, gritty, endearing, and confusing -- it is the essence of neo-noir.

The novel starts with a cliched urban legend -- the protagonist, Phineas Poe, wakes up in a bathtub full of ice with his kidney missing and revenge on his mind. He falls in love with the wom
Sep 13, 2009 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one is (as most anyone who's read it seems to concur) "hard to describe." I'd probably propose a new genre for it: "oneiric noir." The moody, poetic writing prose and the frequent breakdown of borders between the real and the dreamed/hallucinated on the part of the feckless narrator are the highlights of a narrative that is not always clear but is always compelling. It's a hard novel to put down, and while the plot is nothing new (pretty standard noir tropes crossed with one of the most mem ...more
Feb 20, 2013 Erika rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Why do I keep reading books from a genre I don't like? I really struggled with this book. First of all, I hated the way it was written. At times there was no way of way of knowing who was doing the talking or if the text was meant to be a dialogue or a thought. It was too damn confusing. Just 'cause you want to portray a mess of a character it doesn't mean you have to be messy in your writing. Most of the time you didn't know what was going on and, yes, I get it, the main character is mostly hig ...more
Richard Thomas
Feb 23, 2010 Richard Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know what neo-noir is, this is the book to do it. Baer is not only an idol of mine, but an inspiration. This is what got it started. Dark, rich, sexy, powerful, captivating, and visceral.
Jan 29, 2013 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006
Phineas Poe is an ex-cop, just released from a psychiatric ward after a six month stay for a nervous break down. His job is gone, his wife is dead, and Poe really doesnt have much to live for. Enter, Jude. This beautiful woman in red sits down next to Poe and the two begin to converse. Poe is easily seduced by Jude especially after she drugs his drink. Poe remembers nothing after taking her back to his hotel room. He wakes up smack dab in the middle of an urban legend. Shivering in a cold batht ...more
Feb 28, 2012 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kiss Me, Judas. A story about a man whose kidney is stolen by a prostitute. Can that urban legend be anything but the stale center of an overtired premise? Apparantly, it CAN be something more.

Will Christopher Baer's writing is edgy, visceral, and almost nauseating in its effectiveness. Nauseating in the same way that leaping off a cliff can be nauseating. Phineas Poe, the central character of the novel, starts the novel kidney-less and on the verge of death, and for the rest of the story he eat
May 20, 2012 J.ruzhyo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This work is an atrocious piece of trash that should be avoided at all cost. I will list a couple of the issues that I have with this book in order to help dissuade possible interested readers from having to deal with the literary torture.
1. It is obvious that the Author has never been to Denver. Locations are wrong there is no description of the city, or even of the mountain backdrops. He misses out on all the possible seeding dealings that could be used like the city of Englewood, and Colfax a
Marina Furmanov
Apr 15, 2015 Marina Furmanov rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this book was so so so so so bad.
it is the perfect blend of a wind up bird chronicle meets Vonnegut's son's mental breakdown memoir of insanity. but I did not want to read through line after line of what seemed like magnetic poetry glorified. i understand that he was mentally ill and going through a lot, but I cannot read sentence after sentence that does not tell as story. it was all so disjointed, all so disappointing.. and that ending?@? come on!!! I don't know if he really lost a kidney, or
Rahul  Adusumilli
Mar 29, 2014 Rahul Adusumilli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Very sharply written. You'll have to search far and wide to find another book that employs so many tasty metaphors.

Puzzling why it was marketed with a b-grade title and a b-grade cover.
Heath Lowrance
May 10, 2012 Heath Lowrance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise sounds hackneyed and unlikely: messed-up ex-cop meets a woman in a bar, gets drunk, fools around, and wakes up in an ice-filled bathtub, missing his kidney. The stuff of urban legend. But Baer takes this absurd idea and turns it into a hallucinatory, melancholy, gorgeously written novel. The protagonist, Poe, skates along the very edges of sanity in his search for the woman-- who he's a little in love (or at least lust) with-- and his journey brings him into contact with an assortmen ...more
Sarah Schantz
Honestly I read almost all of this book but did not finish. There were so many factual errors I was appalled--did no one else read the drafts that came before publication? No one just rips out a catheter because they feel the urge to pee. First of all, with a catheter in there is NO urge--a person urinates without knowing it, and second, it would hurt so much to rip it out. The fact he is worried that his kidney was replaced with heroin is also ridiculous. By the time he worries about this he'd ...more
Kiss Me Judas is the tale of a junkie ex-cop who goes to a bar after being discharged from a mental hospital. At the bar he meets a seductive call girl named Jude who talks him into going up to his hotel room for some sex and water sports. Hours later, he wakes up alone in a bathtub filled with ice and one of his kidneys stolen, the culprit being the call girl.

If Kiss Me Judas was an Eighties film it would be a cross between 9 Weeks and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The first third of the nov
Apr 07, 2015 Logan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like reading. Plenty. But there have only been a handful of books that left me seriously anxious to return to them, to get back into the story, the prose, and find out where it's all going. But, mostly, it's just about being there in it. This is one of those books for me. Others are GLAMORAMA by Bret Easton Ellis and MARABOU STORK NIGHTMARES by Irvine Welsh. I also remember, from a long long time ago, CD Payne's YOUTH IN REVOLT being like that.

Anyway, what usually really gets me is mood, ener
Aug 01, 2016 Karim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got about 50 pages into the book before I stopped reading, so it's fair to say that I didn't finish it and didn't like it.

Phineas Poe is the series' detective, a man fitting the mold of most mysteries - He is suitably laden with his own baggage of addictions, a dead wife, and other various and sundry personality quirks. He does come off as a poor man's Arkady Renko, a character written with much more panache by Martin Cruz Smith.

I stopped reading because there's a lot of unsavoury suffering
This book is all about style. The plot, narrative, and characters are all Noir standards but the use of language forgives just about everything...wonderful to read...equal parts comedy, pathos, and pure villainy also help the read along. If you don't have a strong stomach and have trouble suspending belief this isn't for you...but if you're looking for an amoral romp this is the book for you.

I loved it...highly recommended.
Apr 05, 2015 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Your enjoyment of this might hinge on your affection for hardboiled, noir-esque fiction. Disgraced ex-cop Phineas Poe is released from an institution, and a subsequent encounter with a prostitute in a hotel bar results in him waking up in a bathtub full of ice with his kidney missing.

Baer uses a lot of literary devices associated that conjure to mind Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett, which is not necessarily a good thing. This genre has been flogged to death and there is very little origin
May 10, 2015 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like bent books. I figure reading is about taking a trip you would otherwise not go on. For me reading is interesting and introspective journey. For this reason I started reading Kiss me judas as it caught me with the kidney steal by a prostitute and the fact that amazon had the book for 2.25 and the reviews were mixed.

The rest of the book I was not sure why the protagonist Phineous has fallen for the kidney stealer and continues on a journey with her across the country for which we think we k
Jun 13, 2015 Eva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Guy wakes up in a tub of ice with his kidney cut out. As the story progresses, you find out that guy is an ex-cop who suffered a psychotic breakdown, killed his wife, and discovered a thing for prostitutes. Guy finds and proceeds to fall in love with the girl who stole his kidney.

It's an interesting read -- very dark and raunchy. There's lots of failed dreams, desire, lust, and heavy drug use throughout the book. The only thing that bothers me is the tonal shift. The narrator has a very strong v
Jun 25, 2009 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book hasn't been around for that long, but I honestly cannot tell you how many times I have read and re-read this. Easily one of my favorite, favorite books.
Gustavo Muñoz (Akito)
Very cheap noir atmosphere and a story that constantly tries and gives up to change its focus, ending up with a lot of plot points that feel gratuitous.
May 08, 2013 Geoff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very dark, very unique, very experimental, and very morish. I found my self continually wanting to stop, yet unable to put it down.
Feb 07, 2009 Wesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the novel you would get from a savage mixture of broken heart, Bladerunner, Dashiell Hammett and things that live in dark alleys...
Jeff Rowe
Feb 16, 2014 Jeff Rowe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: neo-noir
What is the rationale for eliminating all quotation marks in the dialog? Is it supposed to make the reader a participant in the pain? Like having your kidney removed by a prostitute in a hotel room? Because if that's the case, it worked really well. I started out being annoyed. And the whole first person narration by someone who is insane didn't help. But the story turned out to be an excellent hard-boiled tale of mystery. The characters were all excellent. So I gave it an extra star after all b ...more
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Will Christopher Baer is an American author of noir fiction, often delving into sex, violence, mystery and erotica. Currently published works include Kiss Me, Judas, Penny Dreadful and Hell's Half Acre, all of which have since been published in the single volume Phineas Poe. His long-awaited fourth novel, Godspeed, was originally set to be published in 2006, but saw several delays before publisher ...more
More about Will Christopher Baer...

Other Books in the Series

Phineas Poe (3 books)
  • Penny Dreadful
  • Hell's Half Acre

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“And my life went to pieces, like a love letter in the rain.” 44 likes
“Which do you prefer, she says. Sex or Violence?
I try to smile. What's the difference, really.”
More quotes…