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William Bayer

PUNISH ME WITH KISSES was William Bayer’s first psychosexual thriller, his first venture into noir, and his first commercial success. Charged with eroticism and menace, it is the story of two sisters and the Mysterious Dark Man to whom both are helplessly drawn.

It begins in Bar Harbor, Maine, summer playground of the rich. Shy and sensitive Penny Berring watches as her beautiful gregarious sister Suzie puts on a bizarre display — flaunting herself bare-breasted beside the pool, having sex with a dozen boys beneath her parents’ windows, taunting her lovers, humiliating them. Her behavior is strange and compelling. Then…a scream in the night. Suzie is murdered. There is a sensational inconclusive trial. And an enigma: What really happened? Who killed Suzie, and why? Was it dark-haired, sensitive Jared Evans, loved by both sisters? The dour gardener, Tucker, whose shears had been the instrument of death? Or. . .someone else?

Three years pass. Penny is now living a quiet life on the Upper East Side of New York with a job as an editorial assistant at a publishing house. Then it all starts again. She finds Suzie’s “sex diary.” It propels her on a strange, surreal odyssey of her own, and toward a horrifying family secret.

As the novel draws us closer and closer to the truth, we gain an increasingly profound insight into Penny’s mind. Fascinated, we watch her delve ever deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death.

Ingeniously conceived and thrillingly executed, PUNISH ME WITH KISSES penetrates a façade of wealth and manners, exploring the carnal obsessions that lie behind. On one level dazzling entertainment, on another an illumination of the darker places of the soul, PUNISH ME WITH KISSES portrays, most unforgettably, a young woman robbed of innocence and driven to the breaking point.



KIRKUS REVIEWS: “Stylish writing…seductive.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: “Slickly written…steaming with violent sex.”

PALM SPRINGS DESERT SUN: “Ingeniously conceived, this book shatters the respectable façade of wealth and propriety to reveal wanton carnal obsessions. Obsessive and frightening.”

JACKSON SUN: “A frightful entrancing story of radical loss of innocence in a devilish netherworld. Not for the squeamish.”

GAEL GREENE: “The best blend of sex and slowly growing horror since Looking for Mr. Goodbar!”