It is always nice when the new year begins with a book which is likely to stay in your mind for the remainder of the calendar days ahead. Her Every Fear, the third stand-alone from Peter Swanson, is just such a book. Swanson’s star has been on the rise since his debut in 2014, and Her Every Fear is only going to add to both the accolades and his growing fan base.
Peter Swanson’s Her Every Fear begins as a typical thriller with an interesting, but not particularly groundbreaking set-up. As the novel starts, Kate Priddy has decided to swap homes with her cousin for a limited time. Kate – who is dealing with anxiety issues after a traumatic event – believes relocating to Boston is just what she needs to start afresh, while her cousin, Corbin Dell – whom she has never met in person – needs a place to stay in London during a short-term job assignment. So the home swap seems tailor-made for success. However, upon arriving in Boston, Kate discovers that Corbin’s neighbor, Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. Determined to overcome her anxiety issues, Kate tries to brush this aside, but the more she learns about Corbin’s history with Audrey, the more she fears he may have been involved in her death. More importantly, why is he being so cagey about even knowing Audrey? Especially given that the rumors, innuendo, and eyewitness accounts all seem to hint at the two having had a romantic relationship.
How Kate settles into Boston life, the neighbors and strangers she meets, and her increasing sense of paranoia dominate the first third of Her Every Fear. But at that point, Peter Swanson changes direction and the novel takes on a whole new feel. Whereas at first readers are mostly only privy to Kate’s perspective on things in the current day Boston setting, the balance of the novel features multiple points-of-view and introduces various flashback sequences. Readers get a view of Corbin and his experiences both in London after the house-swap and elsewhere prior to his making that increasingly ominous decision.
What is unique here is that Peter Swanson employs a Rasomon-style storytelling technique whereby readers are given multiple viewpoints on the same events. Often these points-of-view contradict with each other throwing the validity of each into question. Where these stories intersect and diverge is a fascinating reader experience, destined to keep fans turning pages long into the night. As crime fiction readers would expect, the doling out of this information is calculated and successfully manipulates the reader to such an extent that when the truth is ultimately revealed it does constitute quite a shock. What is really going on is just as twisted as the journey necessary to uncover it.
Readers will delight in finding a writer willing to take risks with the thriller format. All the necessary hallmarks are here, but Peter Swanson manages to make them feel fresh. There is a sense of claustrophobia to the writing that permeates into the reader’s mind like the cold wind of the Boston winter. It may sound cliché, but expect to be always turning on the lights and constantly checking under the bed for some time after you finish reading Her Every Fear.
Disclaimer: A print copy of this title was obtained by BOLO Books as a giveaway during Bouchercon. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the book.