Many of the reviews praising The Anatomy of Desire—the debut novel from the writing team calling themselves L. R. Dorn—acknowledged the innovation built into the very structure of that deep-dive psychological portrait of a crime, so it will be no surprise to readers that the author(s) keep that format in place with their second work, With a Kiss We Die, while managing to elevate the concept with subtle tweaks. With a Kiss We Die will appeal to fans of true-crime documentaries and podcasts that present multi-episode analysis of actual cases—however, by the end of the novel they will no doubt be more analytical in their examination of this pastime, which so many treat purely as entertainment.

The Raines Report is a popular true-crime podcast hosted by investigative journalist Ryanna Raines. There is almost nothing Ryanna won’t do to get a good story, so when the lead suspects in a horrific crime offer her exclusive access—the ability to embed herself within their lives as they navigate the legal system—Ryanna simply cannot resist, despite some reservations from her podcasting team.

Anthony and Lauren De Carlo were stabbed to death in their palatial estate near San Diego, California. After some early confusion, the police centered their investigation on the couple’s son, Jordan De Carlo, and his eighteen-year-old girlfriend, Victoria. The young suspects offer Ryanna Raines exclusive interviews throughout the process if she will come and stay with them as they comply with the local law enforcements requirements—from initial charges to final verdict. They have a story to tell and it will expose the truth of what happened in that Rancho Santa Fe home.

Once again, L. R. Dorn presents their narrative as a complete transcript of the multi-episode podcast. As such, the entire novel is comprised of dialogue with each speaker clearly identified. Readers will feel as though they are privy to the script for a salacious new play, which is ironic given the theater backgrounds of the two prime suspects. This also forces Ryanna Raines into the role of investigator, providing an interesting spin on the typical police procedural sub-genre. Because she is uncovering new truths with each episode of The Raines Report, L. R. Dorn (via Ryanna) is able to introduce unexpected twists into the unraveling investigation making for another gripping reading experience.

(This dialogue-centric format may take some adjustment for those not used to reading screenplays or play scripts, so this may be a case where the upcoming audiobook becomes the preferred format. That audiobook of With a Kiss We Die is sure to feel as though one is listening to a contemporary podcast about an actual crime.)

As readers witness Ryanna uncovering “clues” as she faces the scheduling requirements of her podcast, readers begin to see how things can be derailed when full vetting is not an option. The reality is that manipulation is possible—from countless angles—in a situation such as this. With A Kiss We Die exposes this often-overlooked reality in an entertaining, yet informative way. L. R. Dorn has crafted a compelling crime investigation which also serves as an exposé of the true-crime and podcasting industry. Ryanna Raines is such a strong voice that it is easy to see how she could become the lead character in a series of novels further exploring the flaws and dangers inherent with “citizen” investigations.

With a Kiss We Die is a fast read, maintaining the readers interest from beginning to end. As with so many real-life cases, questions remain at the conclusion, but L. R. Dorn manages to leave their fans feeling satisfied with the outcome.

BUY LINKS: With a Kiss We Die by L. R. Dorn

Disclaimer: An print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.