William Morrow – February 2014
Book Desription from the publisher:
An atmospheric tale of romantic noir with shades of Hitchcock about a man who is swept into a vortex of irresistible passion and murder when an old love mysteriously reappears
George Foss, a forty-year-old employee of a Boston literary magazine, has passed the age when he thinks he might fall madly in love or take the world by storm, or have anything truly remarkable happen to him. He spends most of his evenings at his local tavern talking about the Red Sox and the minutiae of everyday life, and obsessing over a lost love from his college days who vanished twenty years earlier. Until she reappears.
George has both dreamed of and dreaded seeing Liana Decter again. She isn’t just an ex-girlfriend or the first love George could never forget. She’s also an enigma and quite possibly someone who was involved in a murder years ago, a woman whose transgressions are more in line with Greek tragedy than youthful indiscretion. But suddenly, she’s back—and she needs his help. She says that some men are after her and that they believe she’s stolen money from them. And now they will do whatever it takes to get it back.
George knows Liana is trouble. But he can’t say no—he never could—and soon his quiet life is gone as he is pulled into a terrifying whirlpool of lies, betrayal, and murder from which there is no sure escape.
Bold and masterful, full of malevolent foreboding and subtle surprises, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart is an addictive, nonstop reading experience—an ever-tightening coil of suspense that will hold you in its grip right up to its electrifying end.
When I was a teenager I cut my reading teeth on mystery novels. I read about half of Agatha Christie’s books, all the Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe stories, a few Sam Spades and a sampling of many other mystery writers. Yes, my parents were concerned about my focus on murder, but it established my lifelong love of a good mystery.
All those novels taught me to recognize what makes a good mystery. For me, a mystery has to be believable and the characters have to be well developed enough to feel real. When a mystery writer doesn’t pay attention to the details, I close the book. I say all this to tell you The Girl With a Clock For a Heart is an exceptionally good mystery novel. lt can stack up against all those classics I read in my teens.
Most importantly, I really liked George, the main character. He was complicated the way a good character should be. Of course I didn’t care for him at first, but before I was a third of the way into the story, I started feeling sorry for him and caring a little. At 40 he’s already given up on life. Here’s how he feels:
“He’d passed that age when he could reasonably expect to fall madly in love with someone and raise a family, or to take the world by storm, or to have anything surprising lift him out of his day-to-day existence.”
Oh, George, really? My kids are in their early 40s and I (and they) still expect all sorts of surprising things will happen. I know intellectually that George is a fictional character but he seems so real. I also wanted to warn him about Liana. George was so vulnerable when it came to her. But then, Liana was quite the character too. In fact, Liana was one of the good mysteries of the book. Who was she really?
The plot of this story was also good. The story alternated between what was happening now and what happened twenty years ago. It wasn’t confusing. Just about the time I thought I had things figured out, something new would happen. The twists and turns had me going strong until the end.
Well developed characters, a believable story with some good surprises made The Girl With a Clock For a Heart a very good mystery. I’m looking forward to more good mysteries from Peter Swanson.