In 2015 I was bowled over by Peter Swanson's second novel, The Kind Worth Killing, and went on to read his first, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, with almost as much pleasure. So I was excited to get a copy of this, his most recent. Would it measure up?
The novel takes place in Boston, but the central character is a young English artist, Kate Priddy. Kate is recovering from a serious trauma - some months before the novel begins, her jealous and controlling boyfriend terrorised her, locked her in a cupboard, and shot himself, and it was several days before she was discovered. She's been slowly recovering, first at her parents' house and then back in her own flat in Belsize Park, London, still very nervous and prone to panic attacks. So, when she receives a surprise request for a temporary flat-swap from an American cousin she's never met, Corbin Dell, she thinks a change of scene might be a way of throwing off the last effects of her traumatic experience Soon she's on a flight, heading for Boston, and her cousin's extremely flash apartment in a large and grand apartment block. But though the apartment is lovely (she worries that her Hampstead flat won't measure up), and she's beginning to find her feet and explore the neighbourhood, she soon makes a disturbing discovery - Audrey Marshall, a girl who lived in the flat next door, was recently, and brutally, murdered.
Living next door to a crime scene would probably disturb most people somewhat, but Kate, sensitive at the best of times and carrying the leftover demons of her own terrifying experience, finds it all very hard to take. She's befriended by a nice young man who lives in a flat more or less opposite, but it turns out he has been spying on the dead girl through their facing windows and soon becomes a suspect. The police also wonder if Kate's cousin Corbin could be responsible. And if that were not enough, Kate keeps hearing unexplained noises in her apartment, and makes some disturbing discoveries, among them the fact that Audrey's murder was evidently the most recent in a series stretching back serial years. Is Kate going to be the next victim?
Peter Swanson is an excellent writer, and very adept at getting inside the heads of his protagonists. In this novel we actually know a great deal more than either Kate or the police about who is responsible for this and other similar murders, so the final denouement is not so much whodunnit as willtheydoitagain? As you can imagine, this is quite a page turner. I enjoyed it a lot, though I didn't think it quite a good as The Kind Worth Killing.
Her Every Fear is actually published next week, but of course you can pre-order it straight away.