George Foss never thought he’d see her again, but on a late-August night in Boston, there she is, in his local bar, Jack’s Tavern.
When George first met her, she was an eighteen-year-old college freshman from Sweetgum, Florida. She and George became inseparable in their first fall semester, so George was devastated when he got the news that she had committed suicide over Christmas break. But, as he stood in the living room of the girl’s grieving parents, he realized the girl in the photo on their mantelpiece – the one who had committed suicide – was not his girlfriend. Later, he discovered the true identity of the girl he had loved – and of the things she may have done to escape her past.
Now, twenty years later, she’s back, and she’s telling George that he’s the only one who can help her…
Also by Peter Swanson
The Girl With A Clock For A Heart – is the kind of title to die for. This was the debut from Peter Swanson, that came out to a fanfare of hype in 2016. Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing and Her Every Fear are firm favourites of mine. I went in with high expectations because I know the kind of gorgeous writing Swanson is capable of. It all feels very much like a first novel, where the author has almost cracked the winning formula. It is not as good as his subsequent novels.
The story features a dull middle aged man whose life is turned upside down, by a certain woman. George hasn’t seen Liana for twenty years. He spies her in a bar, one night. He feels drawn to her. Liana disappeared in the first term of university. We find out more about her dubious past, as the plot progresses. It soon becomes clear that trouble follows her around, like a bad smell. She is soon asking George to help her with a problem. George is stupid enough to agree. Things go downhill from there.
I can’t say that I was fully captivated by the goings on of George and Liana. This is pretty much a run of the mill psychological tale. It is let down by a poor ambiguous ending and a rather unengaging lead in the spineless George. We are not really left in much doubt, from the start, of how daft George is going to be led by his short and curlies into trouble. We are expecting him to get hurt. He is a fool. He deserves it. Liana is a master manipulator. She has her own agenda. She is a bit of a mystery. The author only reveals so much of Liana to us. Daft George is caught up in the memories of his first love and is soon under Liana’s spell.
Overall I can forgive Peter Swanson for this. It is not his best work. It is his starting point. The quality jump from this book to his second novel is massive. He finds his feet in The Kind Worth Killing. The Girl With A Clock For A Heart is all a bit under-developed and raw. It is probably worth giving this one a miss.