“Author Peter Swanson takes our deep-seated, instinctive ambivalence about so-called ‘justifiable’ slayings and presses the point, hard.”
Have you ever heard the reported details of a murder case and thought to yourself, not without a twinge of guilt: ‘Well, they deserved it.’ Perhaps a battered wife who finally snaps and stabs her abuser in his sleep. Or the grief-crazed father of a murdered child who arranges for the convicted killer to be ‘taken care of’ in prison. (Both, incidentally, scenarios that have played out in real life.)
Author Peter Swanson takes our deep-seated, instinctive ambivalence about so-called ‘justifiable’ slayings and presses the point, hard. The Kind Worth Killing is an apt title, juggling as it does with the notion that some people have indeed ‘asked for it’.
So what makes someone the kind worth killing? Swanson enjoys himself testing us on the question. How about a lascivious, drooling paedophile with designs on an under-age girl, the daughter of bohemian friends who he is staying with for the summer? As this is fiction, we may allow ourselves to give the Roman thumbs down on this one.
But a cheating wife? Cheating blatantly, certainly, coolly betraying her once-adoring husband who is enraged and driven half-demented with jealousy. The more she lies to him, the more he fantasises about her death – and that of her lover, a man who smiles and smiles to his face before making love to his wife when he thinks her husband’s back is turned. Is HE the kind worth killing, too?
Swanson’s protagonists in this cracking novel certainly think so.
“Stand by for plot twists that will take your breath away. Oh – and an awful lot of killing. “
The story opens in the business lounge at Heathrow Airport. Wealthy Ted Severson’s plane home to Boston has been delayed and he falls into conversation with a beautiful young woman on the same flight as him. Her name is Lily Kinter. Fuelled by cocktails and the strange out-of-time, out-of-place atmosphere of airport lounges, Ted begins to open up to Lily. He tells her that he has discovered his wife, Miranda, is cheating on him. He knows this for certain because he spied on her and saw her having sex with the couple’s home contractor, Brad, when they thought he was safely out of town.
‘So what are you going to do about it?’ Lily asks him.
‘What I really want to do is kill her,’ he replies boozily, attempting a wink to show he isn’t serious.
But Lily is. She lifts her eyebrows. ‘I think you should,’ she says simply.
The plot thickens on the flight home as Ted and Lily begin to compose their dance of death, he hesitant at first, she calmly self-assured and so very on his side. They agree to stay in touch; – as he is a Boston entrepreneur and she is an archivist at Winslow College nearby, this won’t be difficult. So we’re off – and we haven’t even got to page 50 yet!
Swanson provides us with flashbacks to Lily’s past and, without giving anything away, we gradually discover she is completely psychotic; manipulative and very, very dangerous, especially when crossed. Ted, as the Americans say, has ‘caught a live one’. But will he back out of their homicidal enterprise? Will he even want to back out?
Stand by for plot twists that will take your breath away. Oh – and an awful lot of killing.
Here are a selection of the reviews for The Kind Worth Killing
“What makes The Kind Worth Killing so enjoyable is the beautifully constructed plotting – leaving aside all the book’s other virtues, that element alone comfortably sees off ‘second novel syndrome.”
“A classy, slick and stiletto-sharp thriller that builds to a nerve-shredding climax”
“The Kind Worth Killing is a terrifically hypnotic page-turner that marks Peter Swanson as an exciting new talent.’”