Friday 18 December 2015

Book Review: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.

Product details
Publisher: Faber & Faber.
Paperback, 411 pages.
Release date: September 3rd 2015.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Ages: Adult
Source: Purchased.

 A devious tale of psychological suspense involving sex, deception, and an accidental encounter that leads to murder. This is a modern re-imagining of Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Train from the author of the acclaimed The Girl with a Clock for a Heart.

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. But their game turns dark when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.”

From there, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they plot Miranda's demise, but soon these co-conspirators are embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse--one they both cannot survive--with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

 Ever since I read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl a few years back, I’ve been out the lookout for a thriller that matches up to that book in three ways: plot, pace and protagonist. I’ve read a lot of thrillers since then: some good, some bad, and some downright horrible. Less than a handful of those books have gripped me in the way of Flynn’s runaway bestseller. Some had a great plot, some were page-turners with great twists; I don’t think any had a protagonist that gave Amy Dunne a run for her money. This book has all three. Peter Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing is a true gem: an addictively twisty page-turner it may be, but it also features a protagonist that will astound readers with her wicked, wicked ways. One thing you should know about Lily Kintner is that she takes no prisoners – and she always has murder in mind.

When Lily meets successful businessman Ted Severson on a flight from London to Boston, their alcohol-fuelled chat soon takes a turn for the murderous. A game of ‘truths’ causes Ted to reveal details of his wife’s infidelities, and soon after he confesses that he’d quite like to see her dead. Ted’s reasoning is that his wife, Miranda, is only with him for the money – and he probably has a point: Ted is worth squillions of dollars. Meanwhile, Miranda is having it off with the guy contracted to build their new residence; a twelve-bedroom monstrosity in Maine. Now, at this point, most people would start to edge away from the conversation. I mean, you’ve met this guy and all of a sudden he’s talking about killing his wife. Psycho, right? Lily is not most people, though. In fact, it might be said that Ted and Lily are twisted kindred spirits. So, Lily doesn’t balk at Ted’s dark confession. Instead, she offers to help him plan the murder.  After all, what are strangers on a plane for?  Ted questions her motives, of course, but Lily has a simple answer: Some people, she reasons, are the kind worth knowing, and others, like cheating Miranda, are the kind worth killing.

When you think of things in Lily’s terms, it all makes total sense. At least it does to Ted. By the time he disembarks his flight, Ted is fully committed to killing his wife.

After their return to the U.S Ted and Lily become closer as they plan to commit the perfect murder. There’s a definite attraction there, too – but this is no romance, and it’s not a simple game of how to get away with murder. As we delve deeper into the story, we come to learn of Lily’s past – and as the twists in this plot begin to unfold, The Kind Worth Killing starts to make for some very interesting reading indeed.  I zipped through this one, and with each twist I had a little ‘a-ha’ - should have seen that coming but totally didn’t – moment. I had a lot of those moments while reading this book. The Kind Worth Killing is definitely one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I’ve had this year. As for Lily, I rooted for her throughout. This really made me question myself (and perhaps my sanity!) at certain points, but then I talked to some other people who had read this book, and they all loved Lily too. So, phew!

Great fun in a totally sick and twisted kind of way, The Kind Worth Killing is an expertly written thrill ride of a book that enthrals from start to finish.   The movie rights to this one have been sold and I really hope that whoever is cast in the role of Lily does her character justice. I believe that Amy Adams is Swanson’s personal pick for the part, and setting aside age differences between her and Lily who is mid-to late twenties but said to look older, I think she'd work.  Adams is a good actress – and I’d like to see her play wicked for once!

Read The Kind Worth Killing if you loved: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. 

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