What’s it all about?:
A devious tale of psychological suspense involving sex, deception, and an accidental encounter that leads to murder. This is a modern re-imagining of Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Train from the author of the acclaimed The Girl with a Clock for a Heart.
On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. But their game turns dark when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.”
From there, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they plot Miranda’s demise, but soon these co-conspirators are embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse–one they both cannot survive–with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.
What did WE think?:
CHRISSI: Discuss the character of Lily and her initial motivations in striking up a conversation with Ted.
BETH: All the characters in this book are interesting and rather complex but none more so than Lily. She is the one that we get most of the back story from and her childhood years were far from easy. Although her parents are now divorced, when she was younger they had a rather… erm open relationship? Which means that Mum and Dad had a number of different boyfriend and girlfriends on the side which has definitely affected Lily in her search for a real relationship and explains many things about her character. She strikes up a conversation with Ted as she recognises him as being the husband of her acquaintance Miranda whom she met in high school. I don’t think even she realised how the story would end after this initial conversation!
BETH: Who was your favourite character in this novel and why?
CHRISSI: I think it would have to be Lily purely because I found her to be the most intriguing. I didn’t particularly ‘like’ her, but I was interested in her history and the motivation behind the things she did. I really enjoyed reading from her perspective as well. I found Lily to be a little unpredictable, she was fun but unreliable character to read about.
CHRISSI: Do you think that this novel proves that anyone is capable of doing bad things?
BETH: Good question! I’m not sure everyone would be capable of doing the things that are described in this novel but I think it’s an intriguing look at the limits people have and what would cause them to be pushed beyond their limits if they thought that they were not going to have to face the consequences. None of the characters in this book are particularly likeable but they were all immensely readable and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
BETH: How did this novel meet/not meet your expectations?
CHRISSI: I had read Peter Swanson’s debut, so I was expecting to be gripped and I was. I do think this book is much better than Peter’s debut. I thought it was more gripping and easy to devour. The characters were fascinating.
CHRISSI: What did you make of the book being told from different perspectives? Did it work for you?
BETH: It really did. I love a multi character perspective in a novel anyway and in some novels it doesn’t feel right but it worked so well in this one. At first I thought we were only going to get the perspective of Ted and Lily and then certain events bring other characters into the playing field which just made it more exciting. The author also did a great thing where at times he would leave one characters perspective on a cliffhanger e.g. Lily and then I knew I had to keep reading through Ted’s perspective to get back to Lily again to find out what on earth was going on!
BETH: Did you sympathise with any of the characters at all in this novel?
CHRISSI: I’m not sure I did. I didn’t really think any of the characters were particularly likeable, yet they were so interesting. If I was pushed to answer, I guess I would sympathise with Ted the most, because without spoilers, he definitely had a rough deal during this book…
CHRISSI: How do you think this book compares to others in the genre?
BETH: For me, It sits right near the top of the pack. It’s original, thrilling and unpredictable, everything I could ask from a novel. In fact, once I finished it I had to immediately buy The Girl With A Clock For A Heart, his debut novel just to get my next fix of Peter Swanson.
BETH: Would you read another book by this author?
CHRISSI: I definitely would. Especially because this book was more impressive than the author’s debut!
Would we recommend it?:
BETH: Of course!
CHRISSI: Of course!
BETH’s star rating (out of 5):
CHRISSI’S star rating (out of 5):