As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Faber & Faber, 3 February 2015. ISBN: 978-0-571-30222-2 (PB)
Take Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train
and cross it with Gone Girl, and you’re part way towards describing this
twisty thriller. But only part.
Written entirely in the first
person, but narrated from the viewpoint of multiple characters, it moves
between urban Massachusetts and coastal Maine, via rural Connecticut, Paris and
an upmarket New England college, with effortless ease.
The opening scene takes place
not on a train but at an airport, but the premise is much the same: one
character wants to be rid of an erring spouse, the other volunteers to help
make it happen. After that, however, the similarity to Highsmith’s classic
begins to thin out.
Like Amy in Gone Girl,
Lily, the book’s main female protagonist, fascinates and repels in equal
measure. If the definition of psychopath is someone whose moral compass is set
in a different direction from most people’s, she soon reveals her true colours;
but it takes a while before we find out how seriously she believes the world
view she propounds.
The other characters, too,
come to life; each is a realistic mix of good and bad traits in assorted
proportions; no one is wholly innocent, and some are rather less so than
others. One is left feeling some of them almost deserve their fate.
Peter Swanson creates
multiple settings for Lily and her associates to inhabit, and inhabit them is
what they do. A millionaire’s apartment, a student apartment, a college
fraternity house, a tumbledown artists’ home, a stark seaside cottage: soon the
reader is quite familiar with them, and with their denizens, despite the
constant shifts of locations and viewpoints.
The ending is fitting: a case
of ‘be sure your sins will find you out’; cosmic justice rather than the legal
Although there are various narrating characters, I certainly had no trouble identifying who was
telling each part of the story. Taken
all round, this is a well plotted story with plenty of tension and surprises,
and a thoroughly apt and satisfying resolution.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Peter Swansonis the author of two novels, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart,
and The Kind Worth Killing,
available from William Morrow in the United States and Faber & Faber in the
United Kingdom. His poems, stories and reviews have appeared in such journals
as The Atlantic, Asimov’s Science
Fiction, Epoch, Measure, Notre Dame Review, Soundings East, and The Vocabula Review. He has won
awards in poetry from The Lyric
and Yankee Magazine,
and is currently completing a sonnet sequence on all 53 of Alfred Hitchcock’s
films. He lives with his wife and cat in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.