Book review: A Talent for Murder by Peter Swanson

Thursday, July 4, 2024 Permalink

A Talent for Murder by Peter Swanson is the third in a (loosely linked) series. I hadn’t realised that and – as I’ve read eight of Swanson’s usually-twisted books – I only discovered belatedly I’d read the previous book in the series (The Kind Worth Saving) though not remembered the series’s namesakes in any detail.

Despite knowing of his proclivity for twisty-ness I was thrown a little in the early stages of this book as Swanson puts us in the heads of several characters he then wantonly kills off. It was a little disconcerting as I’d identified with them, not realising they weren’t going to be our main narrators.

Book review: A Talent for Murder by Peter SwansonA Talent for Murder
by Peter Swanson
Series: Henry Kimball / Lily Kintner #3
Published by Faber & Faber
on 11/06/2024
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Crime Fiction
ISBN: 0571373658
Pages: 272

It was at this moment that Martha had two competing thoughts. One, that she'd married a niceman. And, two, that he was a complete and utter stranger to her. After an unexpected, whirlwind romance, quiet librarian Martha married Alan. But when she thinks she sees his mask slip, she starts to fear that the conferences he travels the country to attend might be a cover for something far more sinister.

As she secretly starts to map his movements she unearths a string of dead women, but could these two things really be linked? Unsure of her own instincts, Martha turns to an old friend, Lily Kintner, who once helped her escape a toxic relationship in grad school. But what Martha doesn't know is that Lily has a dark side of her own . . .

I liked Lily and her eccentric parents so I really must go back and read the first book in this series as I’m keen to get a bit more backstory as I enjoyed the banter and relationship the father and daughter (in particular) shared here. I’m also intrigued by the relationship between Lily and Henry though the latter only appears in this novel towards the end (and it seems it was the opposite in book two with Henry leading the show).

There’s a bit of finger-pointing and suspicious behaviour though Swanson shares the whodunnit about halfway through (which he also did in book two). Time is then spent explaining the why, and that was important here as the motive (well, the killer’s agenda) felt kinda weak. And then their end goal is thwarted (they act prematurely when I’d expect them to savour the moment) making the killings redundant anyway. I think I would have preferred they just stick to their original killing game rather than deviate on this side project motivated by old anger.

That aside, I liked Lily and enjoyed Swanson’s storytelling and need to go back and read the first book in this series, and Lily’s ‘origin story’.

A Talent for Murder by Peter Swanson was published in the UK by Faber & Faber in early July 2024.

I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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