Friday, 28 April 2023

Book Review: THE KIND WORTH SAVING by Peter Swanson



Author:  Peter Swanson

Publisher:  Faber & Faber

Read: April 2023

Expected publication: out now



Book Description:


There was always something slightly dangerous about Joan. So, when she turns up at private investigator Henry Kimball’s office asking him to investigate her husband, he can’t help feeling ill at ease. Just the sight of her stirs up a chilling memory: he knew Joan in his previous life as a high school English teacher, when he was at the center of a tragedy.

Now Joan needs his help in proving that her husband is cheating. But what should be a simple case of infidelity becomes much more complicated when Kimball finds two bodies in an uninhabited suburban home with a “for sale” sign out front. Suddenly it feels like the past is repeating itself, and Henry must go back to one of the worst days of his life to uncover the truth.

Is it possible that Joan knows something about that day, something she’s hidden all these years? Could there still be a killer out there, someone who believes they have gotten away with murder? Henry is determined to find out, but as he steps closer to the truth, a murderer is getting closer to him, and in this hair-raising game of cat and mouse only one of them will survive.

My musings:


Swanson’s wicked novel THE KIND WORTH KILLING was the type of book that immediately jumped onto my all-time favourites list, and I picked up its sequel with both excitement and trepidation – could it possibly live up to its predecessor? I think that Lily Kintner is that rare type of character you recognise as being totally without a normal moral compass but who you want to root for nonetheless, and I was curious to see how she had fared since the events in TKWK.


Henry Kimball is now a private investigator after having been forced to quit the police force (at this stage I realised that I had to re-read TKWK to refresh my memory and I’m glad that I did). He is hired by Joan Whalen, a woman he soon recognises as being one of his former students during a quick stint as a graduate English teacher before realising that the profession was not for him. Joan is curious to find out whether her suspicions are correct that her husband is cheating on her. In typical Swanson style, things escalate quickly from here and everyone seems to have secrets to hide.


Whilst Lily features in TKWS, she has only a peripheral role, and we mainly bear witness to both events in Joan’s past as well as the present mayhem the investigation creates. But don’t despair, because readers who are hoping for the same kind of flawed, amoral characters we saw in TKWK will soon find them here, as well. You don’t pick up either book if you’re easily triggered because here a normal moral compass doesn’t apply, so if this is not your thing, you should probably give this a miss. As for myself, I could appreciate the almost satirical character study of this wild bunch. Do these type of people exist in real life? I hope I will never have to find out. Was it entertaining though? Very much so – as the normal rules of society don’t apply, everything is possible, and the novel held a few clever surprises in store.


Thank you to Netgalley and Faber & Faber for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Wednesday, 19 April 2023

Reading from my TBR pile: a mixed bag


DAISY DARKER by Alice Feeney


Feeney knows how to write a good plot twist, so I always know I’m in for a wild ride when one of her books comes out. DAISY DARKER was no exception. Just as I thought I was so very clever to have seen through her ploy, wham-bang! I was wrong again.


But let’s start at the beginning. DAISY DARKER takes off just like a classic whodunnit in the vein of Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. A family reunion at an old mansion on a remote island, only accessible at low tide. Here we have the whole happy Darker family in their bickering glory, gathered together for grandma’s birthday, when they start dying, one by one. The killer has to be one of them, right? Seeing that none of them are particularly likeable, the list of suspects is long, until they fall off the perch. Feeney is especially clever, giving enough hints to let you guess some plot twists, but always keeping the joker up her sleeve.


Dark, twisty and cleverly plotted, DAISY DARKER is the sort of mystery I have come to expect from Feeney, and which always makes me come back for more. Suspend a little bit of disbelief and enjoy!



With characters like Emmet, Billy, Duchess, Wooley, Sarah and Ulysses , this was never going to be a dull tale. I just loved the cast in Amor Towles’ latest book and soon lost myself in the story of their escapades. There was nothing predictable about this book and each character brought something unique and unusual to the story, making this tale one I won’t forget for a while (not to mention that ending).


A story about mateship and family ties, of loyalty and adventure, of choices we make and consequences we reap. A tale that would fit nicely into Billy’s “big red book” and can be enjoyed by a variety of readers of all ages and genders. If you would love to lose yourself in a multi-layered adventure story set in the 1950’s, then this book is definitely for you.  




Every time a new Lisa Gardner book comes out, I know that I can’t go far wrong with it – she has never written anything I haven’t enjoyed. As a seasoned thriller writer, Gardner knows how to create interesting, fleshed out characters who instantly come to life on the pages. I liked Frankie Elkin, even though I admit I am getting a little bit tired of the troubled alcoholic protagonist trend (maybe I am just reading too many of these type of books). I kept thinking that there could be more satisfying and original explanations for Frankie’s drive to find missing girls than her alcoholism, which was the first thing in the story that didn’t quite add up for me. Secondly, I was a bit disappointed that Frankie was portrayed as a middle-aged white woman going into battle for missing people from minority groups. I thought that she could have brought more insight and credibility to the racial issues she discusses in the book if she had belonged to a minority ethnic group herself (such as Sheena Kamal’s main protagonist Nora Watts in EYES LIKE MINE).

That said, I really enjoyed Gardner’s descriptions of one of Boston’s troubled neighbourhoods, a backdrop that added both atmosphere as well as tension to the story. As Frankie slowly uncovers more and more clues in her search for the missing teenagers, readers are prompted to form their own conclusions and theories in real-life time just as Frankie is – my favourite type of mystery. The balance between suspense and action provided just enough tension to keep me reading until I had found out all the answers. Whilst Frankie Elkin wasn’t a stand-out character for me, I would probably still pick up the next book in the series and see where it leads me.