Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full-blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.
Soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.
When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves–until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? What about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet-lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself, so how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?
After reading The Kind Worth Killing last year, which was my first book by Peter Swanson and one of my favourite of 2016, I set myself a mini-challenge for 2017 – of reading at least one more of his books. As it was due out, I decided Her Every Fear would be the one and was rather excited to finally pick it up a couple of weeks ago.
The description above (from Goodreads) is rather long and goes a long way to explaining the story, so I won’t repeat it here and maybe spend a little time instead talking about how the book is written and the characters. It starts with Kate’s story, her anxiety as she moves to Boston and her thoughts / feelings as she settles in to the apartment of a cousin she’s never met. Walking around the strange flat, opening drawers, skimming across shelves, she can’t get a feeling for him at all, immediately setting her to wonder and pushing her imagination into overdrive.
And she does have an imagination, one that sees danger everywhere. Just seeing a friend knock on her neighbours door convinces her that neighbour is dead, and when she’s proved right, she spirals. Her behaviour, which seems erratic from the moment you meet her, becomes more so as she starts to lock herself away from a city she hasn’t even had time to explore and begins to suspect her neighbours and he cousin. She feels claustrophobic and so did I.
The fist third of the book is Kate’s story and it was easy to fall into. I can’t say I liked Kate (I didn’t) but I understood some of her behaviours as her past was revealed. Then it jumps to Corbin, her cousin. I have to say, I found the switch to Corbin’s voice jarring after spending so long with Kate and it pulled me out of the story a bit…I’m not sure I ever really got back into it.
You hear about Corbin’s arrival in London but not much more before you move back over a decade to when he was a student, also in London, and a series of events that set his life on a trajectory he couldn’t have imagined and definitely didn’t want. His past doesn’t paint him in a good light and does lead you to question whether he is Audrey’s killer. In Corbin, I found another unlikeable character…leaving me struggling to connect with the book.
Strangely, I did quite like Alan, whose voice you hear through chapters interspersed throughout the book. He’s an odd one and definitely suspect. But there was something about him that drew me to him and made me warm to him, hoping he wasn’t the killer. There is another voice too (not saying whose – spoilers), which sheds more light on Corbin’s story and helps bring everything to a conclusion.
I have to say, for me, that (the conclusion) couldn’t come soon enough because I was tired. The book felt long. The story – for me – dragged for the second half and the characters – as mentioned above – just didn’t do it for me. Their fates, I felt blah about and this made me sad.
I so wanted to like this book and, no matter how many times I think back to it, I have to say I just didn’t. It wasn’t badly written and the story had some great twists but not caring about the characters meant that even these weren’t enough to save it for me. I know from other reviews I am in the minority here but it just wasn’t for me – I liked it, but only a little!