Days before his college graduation, Harry receives a call from his step-mother that his father has died. The fall from a cliff is first ruled suicide. But then Harry sees a strange young woman at his father's funeral. And that proves to be the beginning of dangerous relationships and a number of deaths.
There are aspects of this novel I really liked and aspects I hated. I liked the character deception. People are not who they appear. Swanson does a good job of revealing the past in coordination with current events in “then” and “now” chapters. The back flash technique of revealing history necessary to the plot is tricky. Swanson did a pretty good job of it. If I knew when I started the novel what I know now, I would have kept a list of characters and their relationships. I did get a little confused on occasion as to who was who and was doing what to whom.
What I did not like about the novel was the prominence of sexual predators. Granted, these were older people, both men and women, partnering with consenting teens or or someone decades younger. Nonetheless, it was rather kinky and pretty weird. While these relationships were a necessary aspect of the plot, I just did not like it at all. There were no graphic descriptions but just the idea of the relationships was repulsive.
And the ending was just a little too neat. It did bring responsibility full circle to a fitting result but just did not seem very realistic or possible at all.
This is the first novel I have read by Swanson. I would certainly read another by him if I knew it did not center around strange sexual relationships. He can create a complicated and suspenseful plot with important facts being slowly revealed. This novel held my interest to the end, even when I didn't like parts of it.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Peter Swanson is the author of several previous novels, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, a winner of the New England Society Book Award, and a finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. His books have been translated into thirty languages. He is a graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College. He and his wife live in Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Ferguson
William Morrow, 304 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Bookperk. My comments are an independent and honest review.