Tuesday, April 4, 2017


HER EVERY FEAR by Peter Swanson (Faber, 2017)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Following a brutal attack by her ex-boyfriend, Kate Priddy makes an uncharacteristically bold move after her American cousin, Corbin Dell, suggests a temporary apartment swap - Boston for London.

But soon after her arrival Kate makes a shocking discovery: Corbin's next-door neighbour, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police begin asking questions about Corbin's relationship with Audrey, and his neighbours come forward with their own suspicions, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own.

Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination playing out her every fear, Kate can barely trust herself. so how can she trust any of the strangers she's just met?

I thoroughly enjoyed Peter Swanson's sophomore thriller, THE KIND WORTH KILLING, which was a clever updating of Patricia Highsmith's classic 'Strangers on a Train' premise - modernising things then going in its own unique direction. You could say that HER EVERY FEAR is a creepy, Hitchcockian spin on Hollywood's house-swap rom-com The Holiday. Whatever the inspiration, Swanson again delivers a thoroughly absorbing page-turner that's a top shelf read.

Swanson's thrillers are more than just high-concept crime plots. He infuses his tales with sublime writing and characters with real depth. We get a chance to understand where the characters, both major and minor, are coming from. Why they do what they do (even if we might disagree with it). They're not lightly fleshed moving pieces, but sentient beings making the choices that fit with their lives, experiences, and perspectives, rather than simply acting to move the story forward.

The main character, Kate, is still recovering from a horrible ordeal, so doesn't know if she can trust her own perceptions and judgement, while at the same time being caught up in trying to find out what is going on in with the murder in her new home-for-now. Surrounded by brand new people, how does she know if she's reading them right? Could a wolf be lurking in sheep's clothing?

There's a real sense of unease to HER EVERY FEAR, a creeping sense of unknown danger lurking just out of sight. Like the classic horror films where it was the anticipation that was so damned scary, rather than bloody killing sprees, Swanson taps into those primal drives that set the spine tingling, for characters and readers alike. It's an exquisite, elegantly rendered thriller.

Craig Sisterson is a lapsed lawyer who writes features for leading magazines and newspapers in several countries. He has interviewed more than 180 crime writers, discussed crime writing onstage at arts and literary festivals in Europe and Australasia, on national radio, has been a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards, and is the Judging Convenor of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. You can follow him on Twitter: @craigsisterson

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