The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
This novel is filled with characters who should be unlikeable, but I found myself cheering for…some of them. It’s not a murder mystery, as much of the book is spent planning to commit murder. But the suspense and tension are first notch.
Ted and Lily meet on a flight from London to Boston. As sometimes happens when strangers start talking on airplanes, life stories spill out. Ted confides that he’s just found out his wife is cheating on him and he’s angry enough to want to kill her. Lily, seeming completely serious when she says it, offers to help him. That wife, she says, is the kind worth killing. Lily lays out a plan and they agree to meet in the Boston area later if Ted decides to go through with the scheme.
Lily hasn’t shared her history, though. And it’s twisted. Her Bohemian artsy parents didn’t think to take very good care of their beautiful daughter around the itinerant writers and painters who wandered in and out of their home, many of them obsessed with sex, it seems. The first one Lily tells us about is “Uncle Chet.” After he molests her, she takes matters into her own hands in a truly chilling fashion.
Ted shows up and he and Lily keep meeting and keep making plans. Lily keeps from sharing her history by saying she will do it when Ted’s wife is dead. They are playing a dangerous game which deepens when Ted starts falling in love with Lily. The more we learn about her, the worse this idea seems.
The narrators are switched regularly and, throughout, alternate future paths are hinted at, even laid out. Following the characters along those paths will keep you on the edge of your seat, and guessing. This could end up very badly.
Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of Requiem in Red, for Suspense Magazine