Nick is an angry young man with a steroid dependency. Filled with chemical rage, he arrives alone in Salisbury and rapes Ben, a stranger. Then, less than an hour later, Nick also brutally murders a woman.

But it is Ben, bloodied and partly dressed, who is witnessed near the murder scene. And it's his photofit which is flashed on TV.

Ben can't bring himself to tell his girlfriend, Dawn, that he's been raped but he acts so strangely that she suspects that he's the killer. Now it's her turn to feel fear.

As Nick's drug fuelled fury rises, so does the body count. The police start to close in – but they're closing in on Ben…

Most novels which delineate rape and its aftermath deal with female rather than male victims and even then we only see the rapist vis-à-vis that one criminal act. This novel shows some of the emotional journey and the pivotal acts that led Nick, the rapist, to start using his body as a weapon and explores how society mocks, sexualises or ignores male on male rape.

Men rape other men and boys daily in prisons, in children's homes, in darkened streets and in well lit locker rooms. If the victims were women they would receive sympathy and appropriate help. But because they are male they are often marginalised or treated with embarrassment, attitudes examined in Kiss It Away.

The novel also explores how a woman feels when she suspects that her new lover is a multiple killer - and how her ex- husband copes with the demands of his very young girlfriend.

"Scotland's leading queen of suspense... when Minette Walters is just not enough, reach for Carol Anne Davis."

- The Journal


Hardback published 2003 by the Do Not Press ISBN  1-904316-08-5    Priced  £15.00
Paperback published 2003 by the Do Not Press ISBN  1-904316-09-3    Priced  £6.99


Belgian and Dutch readers can read De Psychopaat a Dutch translation of Kiss It Away published by Zuidnederlandse Uitgeverij in June 2004 in their Orega imprint. ISBN 90-447-0531-8


Kiss It Away Reviews:

... I found this book unputdownable. There’s a quote on the book jacket which says "Scotland’s leading queen of suspense" and I find that label well deserved. David excels at building tension, and the pace is unrelenting. She treats Ben’s rape with sensitivity, and I found that aspect of the book quite unique, to see the impact of that kind of attack on a man rather than the usual female rape. I also liked how the author developed the character of Nick. He had the usual abusive childhood but she didn’t waste any of our sympathy on him and his deplorable outlook on life.

... Kiss It Away is the fourth book by Carol Anne Davis and I highly recommend it to those readers who enjoy noir.

Maddy Van Hertbruggen, I Love A Mystery

If you’re after liberal doses of sex and violence, look no further than this dark, erotic and downright depraved thriller. Kiss It Away begins with an explicitly described male rape scene that must be as shocking for us blokes as the two- a-penny female rape scenes that women crime readers have had to contend with for umpteen years. Ben, the rape victim, keeps quiet about the incident (for a little too long, I feel) and is arrested on suspicion of murdering a girl in a nearby alleyway - the real culprit, of course, being the rapist. Ben is a persuasively drawn character and we feel for him as he wallows in shame and guilt at his brutal violation. But when Davis’ narrative switches to others in the plot - Dawn’s estranged husband, Richard or Richard’s girlfriend Rachel - the storyline becomes less focused. I also had my doubts about the bodybuilding killer Nick, whose psychotic tendencies are at times a trifle forced; he seems less a villain and more a metaphor for society’s ills. But these are very minor faults in a book that shocks you out of complacency and provides a genuinely gripping diversion from the niceties of everyday life.

Mark Campbell, Crime Time issue 37

Despite the fact that it involves a troubled steroid addict who bumbles his way through town slashing this person's throat, bashing that person's face in, and raping someone else, chances are you will find yourself tittering more than once while reading this witty, surprisingly lightweight crime-suspense novel by a Scottish writer. From page one onward, we know who the perp is, but that's not the point. After Dawn and her much younger boyfriend Ben have a minor communication breakdown in bed, he leaves her apartment in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, he then wanders into the same dark park in which steroid-addicted bodybuilder Nick is prowling. Nick rapes Ben, steals his wallet and jacket, and leaves the park only to commit a murder in town later that night. Ashamed and bleeding profusely, Ben makes his way home and proceeds to avoid Dawn and otherwise act strangely for a couple of weeks - at precisely the same time that the police are on the lookout for the murderer. Meanwhile, puzzling over Ben, Dawn pines for her ex-husband Richard, while Richard is dating the much younger, insecure Rachel. While there isn't always enough meat on this novel's narrative bones and its dialogue is occasionally realistic to the point of being a bit dull, it is not lacking in a serious underlying message: Davis brings to our attention the subject of male-on-male rape, a crime so widely ignored as to make Ben feel for a time like the only such victim in the world.

Kim Hedges, East Bay Express

A thrilling tale of nasty lust and genuine evil. Fantastic stuff.

Suzy Price, Desire

Some people salivate at the thought of a new Harry Potter adventure. Some wait impatiently for further pun-heavy titles from Robert Asprin. As for me, just the hint that Carol Anne Davis may be about to write another book has me setting up camp at the mailbox. To be quite honest, I simply cannot get enough of her stuff. No one cuts so deep to the bone, laying before us, with such realism, the most chilling situations and the most terrifying of creatures: the human monster. And, worst of all, every novel is all the more unnerving because of their possibility... Wait, in our world it's almost a probability.

Blazing a path of devastation through the lives of everyone in Kiss It Away is the steroid-powered Nick. A textbook example of antisocial personality disorder at his best, the ex-con is a bomb that continues to go off time and again as his consumption of anabolic steroids escalates out of control. When Ben has the misfortune to cross paths with Nick it sets off a series of tragedies that have the police in overdrive. To Ben's horror, he finds that the focus of their investigation is himself, not the maniac who raped him in the park the night a woman was killed. Too ashamed to tell anyone of the humiliating violation, his behavioural changes are misinterpreted as guilt and Ben looks very guilty at the moment.

As Ben's life is unravelling before his eyes, Nick's is bursting at the seams. "Stacking" ever-increasing doses of steroids is destroying the body he has a pathologic need to build to its muscular limits. His madness transforms anyone who flickers, however briefly and benignly, on his personal radar into an enemy, just another worthless creature out to destroy him. Nick isn't about to let all his efforts go to waste; murder is his tool of choice to eliminate any threat, and threats are coming at him from all sides. The steroids could put him out of commission, but will it be in time to prevent any further attacks?

The interaction of Rachel, Richard, Dawn, and the other characters is a fascinating portrait of life on the razor's-edge of disaster. They go about their days, doing their best to find happiness, even though their images of a perfect life conflict at almost every turn. Seemingly insurmountable obstacles materialise to block their dreams, obstacles that would be revealed in all their triviality if they knew the horror poised to tear their lives apart. If Nick stumbles in, they will know what true desperation is. Ben could tell them all about that experience, if he could bring himself to tell them.

Kiss It Away is another stunning example of Davis' mastery. No one does dark realism better. Every word builds the tension to an almost unbearable peak, and each situation terrifies with its plausibility. Just check Davis' non-fiction work; we could only wish that comparable tragedies never really happened, that such people couldn't actually exist. Carol Anne Davis knows better. We would do well to listen to what she has to say.

Lisa DuMond, MEviews

*Starred Review* Davis' latest is a harsh, disturbing, graphic, gritty story set in Salisbury, England. Nick is a skinny, angry drifter whose obsessions are working out and taking steroids to build up his muscles. Horribly abused as a child, Nick has grown up defensive, full of fury, and ready to take out his rage on anyone unlucky enough to get in his way. Ben, a software engineer, has a fight with his girlfriend, Dawn, and walks through the park to think their relationship through. Unfortunately, Nick is already there, waiting for a hapless victim. In a burst of violence, he rapes Ben and shortly afterward, stabs a young woman to death. A few days later, Nick needs money to buy his latest dose of steroids and kills another woman for her money. Ben, who is too sickened and ashamed about being raped to tell anyone, begins acting oddly, and Dawn can't understand why. When the police put out a "photo-fit" of the killer, Dawn is shocked that it looks just like Ben, who was seen leaving the park after being raped. The police are closing in but on the wrong man. This brutal and ugly story pulls no punches in exposing the seedy and chilling world of a psychopathic killer. A not-to-be-missed thriller by Scotland's "queen of suspense."

Emily Melton, Booklist, The American Library Association Journal

Davis (Noise Abatement, 2001, etc.) unveils her scariest hero yet: a steroid-addicted psychopath who's not only nasty but who inspires nastiness all around him. The night that Nick, body-builder and drifter, arrives in Salisbury, he mugs and rapes software engineer Ben James in a deserted park, then kills Gillian Barnes for good measure. Ben, agonized with shame and pain, can't bring himself to tell either the police or his current girlfriend, illustrator Dawn Reid, what's happened, although it's obvious to Dawn that something's gone very wrong with him. Bombarded with police descriptions of a dishevelled man emerging from the park shortly after the murder and realizing that they sound just like Ben, she fingers him to the police. So Ben, who's already watched his sex life head south and gotten himself tested for AIDS, wonders in vain whether his life could get any worse. Of course it could, and it does. Meanwhile, Nick, who'd "never actually planned to kill anyone before, except his dad if he ever met him," is still on the loose, and Dawn's estranged husband, comic-book publisher Richard Reid, is succumbing to the wiles of Rachel Lane, an art student whose aggressively seductive tactics are scarcely less brutal in their way than Nick's. Though the climax is a letdown, Davis's intensity is sure to leave a bad taste in your mouth for days.

Kirkus Reviews

Another tale of domestic rage and underlying criminal currents from of one Scotland's best-known secrets (try Safe As Houses or Noise Abatement). Chilling and so perilously close to everyday life.

Murder One.

A pulp thriller from Scottish writer Davis which takes a no-holds barred look at the life of a disturbed and angry young man who is hooked on steroids. Shortly after arriving in Salisbury, Nick rapes a stranger, Ben, and then murders a woman. Ben is sighted in the area and mistaken for the killer. His refusal to tell anyone, even girlfriend Dawn, about his ordeal increases the suspicions of those about him and soon the police are after him. Meanwhile Nick, chemically off the planet and permanently enraged, continues to wreak havoc and bloody murder. When Nick's fury is targeted at friends of Dawn further horrific violence ensues.

Sexually explicit, dark and twisted, it's safe to say Davis is a noir writer. The portrayal of the worst excesses of steroid abuse, the sinister side of gym culture and the working of the criminal mind are convincing. Less so is the romantic sub-plot, between Dawn and her ex-husband, which sits uneasily among so much brutality. As well as writing fiction, Davis has also written two non-fiction books: Women Who Kill: Profiles of Female Serial Killers and Children Who Kill. In each she points to an abusive and violent family life (including the use of corporal punishment) as the most crucial aspect in determining which of us grow up with the capacity to become killers. Kiss It Away is fiction rooted in the same analysis - an unsettling read with a wretched villain who is damaged beyond belief.

Cath Staincliffe, Manchester Evening News

Salisbury will never be the same again. A steroid-chomping rapist come murderer Nick, wants to kick sand in all- comers faces. As his path to self-destruction takes an increasingly violent path other lives are irrevocably damaged. A tightly drawn psychological tale told in the raw, which scores with the juxtaposition of ordinary lives swamped by the backwash of a violent stranger. Davis likes to soothe with the domestic banality of her characters then pours the acid on the page with scenes of tortured violence and deprivation. One for the tourist board.

Crime Factory

When Ben James walks out of his girlfriend's flat following a row, he steps into a nightmare. Raped at knife point by a stranger in the local park, he is then linked to the brutal murder of a young woman by that same stranger which occurs shortly afterwards. Unwilling and unable to admit to what has happened to him, he finds the police closing in on him while the real murderer continues on his killing spree, fuelled by an irrational rage linked to his addiction to body building steroids...

Carol Anne Davis produces psychological thrillers with a strong erotic edge and a Ruth Rendell-like tendency to focus on self-delusional, self-obsessed characters. In Kiss It Away she tackles the taboo subject of male rape head on, and produces some thought-provoking material, particularly when Ben goes on the Internet to find medical and professional help after he's been raped and finds only porn sites which use the subject for titillation. However, the book lacks the heartfelt malice of her last effort, the neighbours-from-hell chiller Noise Abatement, and when it becomes clear that the story is not ultimately about Ben and his terrifying ordeal but his notably older girlfriend, Dawn, and her tangled relationship problems, some of the focus is lost. Still a brave, worthy choice of topic, though.

Elizabeth Coldwell, Forum Vol 37 No 12

Salisbury is an apparently tranquil setting for a crime novel, the type of place that one might associate with malice domestic, perhaps a genteel poisoning investigated by an elderly spinster. Not a bit of it. The cathedral city provides the backdrop for Carol Anne Davis's fourth novel (she has also published a couple of true crime titles) and it could hardly be less cosy, or less likely to win her friends in the local tourist information office. A bleak, uncompromising read with plenty of graphic sex scenes, the book also offers compelling insights into the world of drug-fuelled hate crime.

Nick, a young man with a troubled past, is violent and unpredictable. One night he encounters Ben, whose relationship with an older woman is falling apart and is wandering through a park in the darkness. In a scene not for the squeamish, Nick rapes Ben. Later he commits a murder and Ben, who is unable to confide in anyone about the trauma that he has suffered, becomes a prime suspect.

The story moves at a considerable pace as Nick continues to inflict pain and terror on those unfortunate enough to encounter him. Eventually a sort of justice is done, but there is still time for a memorable coda which underlines Davis's fascination with the ways in which people deceive themselves.

Martin Edwards, Tangled Web

A dark chiller from a Scottish author who has a knack for tackling deviant psychology. Davis understands primal fears from the inside, and also has a reputation for her true crime books. Steroid rage, a killer and the torment of suspicion: all grist to the mill.

The Bookseller