Faber & Faber | 2017 (12 January) | 352p | Review copy | Buy the book
Kate Priddy has had a terrible, traumatic experience but now she is ready to seize back her life, leave her parents’ house and their protection and venture back out into the world. A golden opportunity comes from a cousin she has never met. Corbin Dell wants to visit London for six months and so he proposes a flat swap – while he stays in Kate’s small London flat, Kate can live in his grand apartment on Beacon Hill in Boston. Kate welcomes the opportunity to return to her art studies, this time in a new and exciting location, and so, despite the misgivings of her anxious parents, Kate sets off to start a new life.
But if anyone could be described as unlucky it’s Kate Priddy. On arrival in the apartment block, she sees someone pounding on a neighbour’s door. And the next day the police turn up, announcing that the unimaginable has happened – Kate’s neighbour Audrey Marshall has been murdered and mutilated. The whole building is thrown into turmoil and, when it is discovered that Kate’s cousin Corbin was having a secret relationship with Audrey, Kate begins to fear the worst. Did Corbin murder Audrey and then flee to London? But this is an apartment block full of secrets, dark corners and prying eyes. And Kate has caught their attention.
I read Peter Swanson’s previous novel, The Kind Worth Killing, while on holiday last year and I could not put it down. It stands out as being one of the most twisted, dark and compelling reads I had in 2015. As a result, I had high hopes for Her Every Fear.
While I didn’t find it quite as addictive as The Kind Worth Killing, there is a lot going for Her Every Fear. It has an extremely clever plot and, as in its predecessor, the author skilfully moves between perspectives, giving more than one interpretation or viewing of a scene. The result is often extremely and deliciously creepy as we (and the main character) are lulled into a false sense of security before we are faced with the stark reality of what is actually happening. The difference between appearance and reality is brilliantly dealt with by Peter Swanson and the shocks really do shock.
The mood of the novel is grim and there is true evil walking through these pages, hiding among the normal, and I think I did feel rather oppressed by it at times. But that is most definitely my fault rather than the book’s. This is the type of crime thriller to make you suspicious of everyone, to find evil everywhere – even the cat acts guilty. Peter Swanson is such an original and gifted writer of dark and twisty tales, of worlds in which evil stands right before our eyes and dares us to recognise it.