Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson

Title: The Girl with a Clock for a Heart
Author: Peter Swanson

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Murder Mystery / Boston / Secret Identity / College Life /
Publisher/Publication Date: William Morrow (2/4/2014)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: A middle-aged Bostonian is reunited with his college sweetheart, who is likely a murderer, and agrees to help her escape her latest predicament.

Do I like the cover?: I'm on the fence. It makes me think Miami/LA which is not the novel's setting. (There are some scenes in Florida, but none at the ocean or pool.) But it's eye-catching and very much ties into a crucial scene so...

I'm reminded of...: Stephen Dobyns, Ryan David Jahn

First line: It was dusk, but as he turned onto the rutted driveway he could make out the perimeter of yellow tape that still circled the property.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy.

Why did I get this book?: The title, caught my attention first, then this tidbit from the author's GoodReads bio: "[He] is currently completing a sonnet sequence on all 53 of Alfred Hitchcock’s films." !!!, right?!

Review: I was really excited for this book: Swanson is a local writer, and there's been a lot of good buzz about this one, and I love noir-y stores with Hitchchock-ish elements.

First, I think the jacket blurb is safe to read, and I'm going to direct readers to it lest my recap accidentally spoil anything. Second, I found the novel slow to start (which bummed me out) but at about sixty pages in, I suddenly couldn't put it down. It got good, and then it got great.

Our hero, George, is an accessible everyman and even though he and I both knew better, we both wanted the best when mysterious, gorgeous Liana swept back into his life. But there's more than one double cross going on, as George knows more about Liana than we the reader suspect, and as George tries to help out Liana, the story of what just happened their freshman year of college unspools, more and more horrifying and twisty. I read it with wholly conflicted feelings: I half wanted George to get the love of his life and half wanted him to end up with Hamlet-level tragedy.

Although set in Boston, the story takes place at a few fictionalized New England locales -- an invented liberal arts college in Connecticut, a beach side tourist town -- and with its sweltering summer setting, was a nice escape from these wintry days.

A great escapist read for the winter, a tiny bit stressful, very atmospheric, and un-put-down-able -- so get it and cross your fingers you get a snow day.

*** *** ***


I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Girl with a Clock for a Heart to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US and Canadian readers, ends 2/28.


  1. I have this on my desk to read and glad you recommend it!
    Book Dilettante

  2. I'm intrigued by this one so would like to give it a try. Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. This sounds good...and did you say Hitchcock sonnets?!

  4. Sometimes it's so hard to describe a complex book without possible spoilers! Thanks for avoiding them on this one. It sounds really good!

  5. Hmm, I don't know that anything will make me wish for another snow day at this point but this book DOES sound very good so you never know ...

    Thanks for being a part of the tour Audra. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page.

  6. I was happy when I saw this book in one of your blog photos. I received it to review & immediately had a bit of a problem with it. Fortunately, I saw the same comment about the author on Goodreads that you read , about sonnet sequence of Hitcock's films...that intrigued me. The thing that's been bugging me is the title, to me it's kind of ridiculous and silly. And, as you pointed out, the Miami, LA cover doesn't help me at all! It's all almost stopping me from opening the book! That's why I was excited when I realized you would be reviewing this book! Thanks for putting my mind at ease about the 'worthiness' of this book! Love that the author is local for you, too

    1. Amy, I was sort of 'eh' on the title (frankly, it sounds like a steampunk novel to me!), but it comes from a direct quote, and it fits in context. Marketing books is fascinating -- sometimes I disagree so much with a choice on design, title, etc. Still, the story is pretty solid. Can't wait to see what you think of it!

  7. If I entered this contest twice, sorry, I didn't mean to. I couldn't remember today whether I already had. Thanks.