This novel held my attention from the first page to the last. This is Peter Swanson’s first novel: I’ve now read his first novel as well. Both are well worth reading.
‘A long uncomplicated life stretched out before me.’
Ted Severson meets Lily Kintner while flying from London to Boston. They have a few drinks together, and open up in that way that strangers sometimes do when they expect never to meet again. Ted reveals that he thinks his wife Miranda is cheating on him. But when he jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she has done, Lily offers to help. Is she serious? Is he? Can they possibly get away with it?
The early part of the novel alternates between the points of view of Ted and Lily, present and past. In particular, it is Lily’s backstory which held my attention. As her life is pieced together, Lily becomes far more real – more menacing, more dangerous.
Ted goes along with Lily’s plan. But Ted and Lily are not the only people planning murder, and even the best-laid plans can be flawed.
I’ve not read Patricia Highsmith’s ‘Strangers on a Train’, so can’t comment on the comparisons that some have made to that book. What I can say is, that once I started reading this novel, I couldn’t put it down. Lily is by far the main, and the best developed, character. While some aspects of the story were predictable, I wasn’t sure how Mr Swanson was going to end the story: how he would draw together a number of different aspects of the plot.
I found the ending surprising (when I read it, less so when I reflected on it) and quite satisfying. This is the kind of novel that works for me because I got caught up in the story. Good escapist fiction which will no doubt be made into a good escapist movie.
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Faber and Faber Ltd for the opportunity to read this novel.