I purchased this debut novel by Peter Swanson after being blown away by The Kind Worth Killing which made my top ten reads of 2015 and found myself jettisoned into the world of George Foss, searching a crime scene and feeling triumphant at the sight of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Now I like that book but was a tad confused why it had the starring role in the prologue.
All was to become clear though as chapter one commenced with George meeting his on-off girlfriend Irene in a local bar in Boston, during the evening he sees his college sweetheart Liana. It doesn’t take George long to cut the evening short with Irene and start a conversation with Liana where it becomes apparent really quickly that this is a girl who has caused him a few problems in the past, as well as herself it would seem since she is living under an assumed name.
The plot that follows is well-constructed, engaging and full of action as we learn more about both Liana and George through the split time-line which takes us back to their college days and the events that surrounded their short but intense relationship.
So the readers have been introduced to the protagonists and on the basis of a deep and sincere, albeit brief relationship what comes next will take your breath away – readers be warned, do not question too deeply and you can swing along and be entertained by this superbly diverting debut. There is a lot to enjoy; the pace is fast and furious and this definitely is one of those books which urge you to read ‘just one more chapter’, the writing is accessible with the odd moments of wry humour, particularly in George’s more reflective moments which leads onto the depth of emotion George displays which is very much that of a young man, out in the world for the first time and given his background it is obvious why he is presented in the book as ‘Mr Average.’ However I suspect most men lose that before they hit their late thirties and would be slightly more reluctant to do Liana any favours at all, but hey, like I said, this book is to be enjoyed, not questioned!
Despite the subject matter, I found this a great way to spend a few hours, I enjoyed what is essentially a romp with the broken and damaged where most of the characters have few, if any, redeeming features. There is also a notable absence of secondary characters apart from victims and villains quite probably because these would surely be shouting ‘don’t do it’ from the side-lines!
There is no doubt in my mind that The Kind Worth Killing is the superior novel, it is far more intelligent and dare I say it, realistic, however if you did miss this when it was published, it is definitely worth a read.