”Truthfully, I don’t think murder is necessarily as bad as people make it out to be. Everyone dies. What difference does it make if a few bad apples get pushed along a little sooner than God intended? And your wife, for example, seems like the kind worth killing.”
We are brought up to believe that murdering someone is the worst thing we could ever do, but is it? If a person is leaving a wide wake of broken hearts and battered spirits and in some cases much, much worse, is it really the worst thing we can do for all of humanity to give that person a nudge towards the afterlife? Of course the question remains, are any of us capable by ourselves of being the defense, the jury, the prosecution, and ultimately the judge?
When Ted Severson sees Brad Daggett, a man he has been paying an abundant amount of money to build his dream house, bend his wife, Miranda, over a table and have consensual sex with her, it sets off a string of events that...leads...to...murder.
At the very least Brad should have offered Ted a discount.
Okay, so the guy is banging your wife. She signed a prenup. That silly bitch isn’t getting one more thin dime out of you. You just need to go get drunk, maybe call up an old flame and have some unsatisfactory revenge sex, and call your lawyer in the morning.
Not Ted. He can drink like a fish, martinis in fact, line them up from here---------------to here, but mostly he just simmers on what he saw. He even tries to convince himself that what he saw wasn’t exactly what he saw. Brad was just trying to...nope... not even after six martinis can he convince himself that Brad was doing anything, but SHAGGING his wife.
Ted wasn’t sure what he was going to do until on a plane flight home he met The Lily Kintner. Maybe it is because she is beautiful and receptive to him, or maybe it is just because he has to tell someone and usually a stranger is much easier to spill your guts to than a friend. She doesn’t react the way he expects. In fact, she tells him that his wife sounds like the kind worth killing.
You’d never know to look at her, but Lily is an unusual young woman. She is a woman who doesn’t believe in letting people get away with things like infidelity or lying. She doesn’t believe in turning the other cheek or forgiveness. She realizes there is something missing in her, something different.
Her father is a reasonably famous author, and her mother an academic. Their household was a free-for-all of revolving parties with artists, writers, friends, and lovers of both her parents coming and going throughout her whole childhood. She was mostly left to her own devices, and when one young man took an interest in the thirteen year old with the flaming red hair and the long thin legs,...well...he annoyed her.
”I’d been waiting for two things since killing Chet. Waiting to get caught and waiting to feel bad. Neither had happened yet, and I knew that neither would.”
Now, it may seem like she is just a random stranger with a morbid sense of morality, but as the plot thickens we discover why Lily has taken an interest in Ted’s shattered marriage.
The chapters alternate between characters. We are allowed to see things from their perspectives and what is missing in one chapter can be revealed in the next. It all begins to really heat up when police officer Henry Kimball can’t let go of a hunch and begins to follow Lily. He adores her father’s writing, and after interviewing her a couple of times he is half in love with her, but dribs and drabs of loose ends from their conversations continue to nag at his consciousness. 2+2=3.75
There is a funny scene that I have to share that made me laugh because it reminded me of myself. Lily’s father has very distinct views of the ocean. ”He said it was like looking at death…. I love the beach, everything except the fucking sand, the fucking sun, and the fucking water.” Okay, it made me chuckle again writing it because it is so sacrosanct for anyone to ever say anything remotely negative about the ocean because everyone is so IN LOVE with water. I enjoy looking at the water. I can understand the attraction, but for me it is something to look at briefly and then move on to something more interesting. I have never really trusted large bodies of water. I wouldn’t say I’m suffering from Thalassophobia, but certainly I don’t feel the need to join the masses in venerating the ocean. I prefer solid terra firma under my feet... all the time... besides the water is such a slurry sludge pit of god knows what.
Killers become victims...victims become killers. Yet again Peter Swanson has delivered a neo-noir thriller that reminds me of some of the best of James Cain. There are twists and turns enough to leave your legs corkscrewed together by the time you reach the final page.
I also enjoyed his first book. The Girl with a Clock for a Heart Review
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