With a Kiss We Die: A Novel
Two college lovers suspected of a brutal double homicide enlist a podcasting crime journalist to proclaim their innocence in this psychologically riveting and compulsively readable novel of love, lies, and murder, perfect for fans of The Lady Vanishes podcast and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.
I’m Ryanna Raines. And welcome to “The Raines Report.”
Ryanna Raines is the host of a popular true-crime podcast. Her specialty is investigative journalism, her style is truth-seeking moxie, and with millions of listeners along for the ride, her star is rising. But when an intriguing message is left on her tip-line, the reporter is pulled into the most challenging case of her career.
The mangled bodies of a husband and wife have been discovered in their multi-million-dollar estate in Southern California. The prime suspects are their twenty-two-year-old son and his girlfriend, two college theater students who are now facing arrest and indictment. In a surprising move, they only want to speak with Ryanna, offering exclusive interviews in exchange for her help getting their side of the story told.
Instead of a badge or a weapon, Ryanna carries her voice recorder onto the battlefield of the high-profile murder investigation. Through a series of interviews, Ryanna examines her subjects from multiple angles and diverse points of view, breaking past the walls of “he said, she said” to pierce at a dark and horrible truth.
Written in the style of a true-crime podcast, With a Kiss We Die is a heart-racing mystery and thought-provoking tale about love and secrets that unfolds episode by episode as it hurtles towards an explosive conclusion. L. R. Dorn has crafted a suspenseful examination of our cultural obsession with true crime, the complicated moral obligations between journalists and their subjects, and the often-deadly line between performance and deceit.
Praise for With a Kiss We Die: A Novel
"L.R. Dorn wields tension as skillfully as a fighter wields a knife. Through masterful storytelling and precision pacing, they prove that, like a knife, the truth has two sides. With A Kiss We Die is taut, thrilling, and at its heart of hearts, a deeply disturbing love story. Well played." — Hannah Morrissey, author of The Widowmaker
“In this riveting novel that expertly mimics the pace and pulse of a podcast, L.R. Dorn examines the ethical boundaries of true-crime journalism, the intoxicating influence of love, and what happens when passion turns to poison. Wildly addictive and wickedly dark, With A Kiss We Die is a book worth binging.” — Megan Collins, author of The Family Plot and Thicker Than Water
“L. R. Dorn’s spicy update of Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 classic, An American Tragedy... is written in the form of a docuseries like ‘Serial,’ and like that cool potboiler, The Anatomy of Desire cruises along with nary a bump in the road.” — Washington Post
"A truly innovative, fantastic book. Emphatically recommended. Reads like your favorite podcast, the hit crime doc you'll want to binge. A brilliant brewing of progressive internet influencers, with smaller town police doing their best to keep up. Structurally fresh, these talking heads will enchant you.” — Josh Malerman, New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box, on The Anatomy of Desire
“Centered on the world of social media influencers, the pseudonymous Dorn’s remarkable debut takes the form of a true crime docuseries… The riveting trial, during which Cleo constantly changes her story, comes down to circumstantial evidence… With no witnesses to the murder, readers will breathlessly await the verdict.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Anatomy of Desire
“[A] modern reimagining of Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 novel, An American Tragedy… takes readers through the intimate details of a mysterious drowning and the sensational trial… This riveting mock podcast docudrama ratchets up the suspense as readers glimpse every angle of the story from a 360–degree view.” — Library Journal (starred review) on The Anatomy of Desire
"In podcast style, the mystery gives us a range of voices and perspectives, from the boathouse attendants on, held together by the narrator. The advantage of this format is its great immediacy.” — Booklist on The Anatomy of Desire
“It’s written as a true-crime documentary and reads like nothing else I’ve read recently. It’s told from the point of view of all the people involved in the case, step by step through the trial and aftermath. You won’t want to put it down.” — RedCarpetCrash.com
“The genius of L. R. Dorn’s work here is in getting the reader to think about who societies punish and why and how our cultural sensibilities change around the concept of shame… A gripping, compelling read that does justice to its source material.” — CriminalElement.com
“Ingenious and brilliantly executed... Contemporary in setting and cast, but also in narrative style: the desperate social climber is a young woman “influencer,” and the form is as a series of true-crime podcasts—it reads like the transcripts of interviews—and it works stunningly well, clear, fast-moving and deeply engrossing.” — Sullivan Co. Democrat
“The Anatomy of Desire… is at once a clever reworking of a classic American novel and a caustic commentary on contemporary American mores… [It is] compulsive reading.” — Anniston Star
“As the trial progresses, readers may find their preconceptions challenged and their feelings flip-flopping regarding Ceo's guilt and moral character. And when the ending comes, it's a surprisingly poignant one.” — ShelfAwareness.com
“A stunning debut novel that reimagines An American Tragedy as a marathon-worthy true crime series… An innovative and riveting read that ratchets up the suspense with every page.” — BookRiot.com
“A fascinating courtroom drama…. This deliciously contemporary story… reveals a compelling, poignant portrait of sexual desire in our social media age.” — Daily Mail (UK)