Book Reviews: Swanson delivers thriller; Characters, issues buoy Thoft’s ‘Duplicity’
“Her Every Fear”
By Peter Swanson
Peter Swanson tells an engaging story of a woman battling severe anxiety who decides to radically change her life — and the horrifying results that follow — in “Her Every Fear.”
Kate Priddy lives in London. She suffers from panic attacks and prefers familiarity to the unknown. She started having these attacks after an abusive boyfriend beat her, locked her in a closet and killed himself. When a cousin from the United States she’s never met suggests they swap apartments for six months, she feels like it is an opportunity for a fresh start.
She arrives at her new home in Boston only to discover that there is already a problem. The next-door neighbor has vanished and Kate’s cousin is a suspect. Kate becomes frightened when the neighbor is found to be the victim of foul play. She starts to wonder if her cousin fled to London to avoid authorities.
Meanwhile, Kate begins to meet some of the neighbors, who may have hidden agendas, including Alan. She doesn’t realize Alan had an obsession with the deceased that was downright creepy.
When the novel focuses on Kate, the writing and story line shine. Swanson made the decision to give other points of view, including the cousin and Alan, and their narratives lag a bit. However, when everything comes together at the end, it’s clear why Swanson decided to tell the story in the manner he did. Even so, a sole focus on Kate’s perspective would have made it a classic. Either way, Swanson has crafted an effective and compulsive thriller.
— Jeff Ayers
By Ingrid Thoft
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The private detective novel continues to explore contemporary hot-button issues, as Ingrid Thoft illustrates in her latest exciting novel about Boston investigator Fina Ludlow.
In “Duplicity,” Thoft tackles how easily the unscrupulous can use faith to manipulate the vulnerable, while she also shows respect for religion and those who find comfort in their faith.
As the in-house private investigator for one of the country’s top personal injury law firms run by her father and brothers, Fina knows the value of discretion when dealing with the wealthy. Still, she’s a bit taken aback when her father, Carl, asks her to help his old flame, Ceci Renard, who is worried about her daughter, Chloe.
In the past year, Chloe has become so involved with the evangelical Covenant Rising Church that she is willing to sign over a large part of her inheritance. Fina is as suspicious as Ceci when she meets the pastor, Greg Gatchell and his wife, Gabby, who use contributions to the church to finance their luxurious lifestyle.
While dealing with her investigation, Fina also focuses on the return of her brother, Rand, who sexually abused his teenage daughter, Haley. Fina focuses on Haley’s needs, but her parents are more concerned about keeping this family scandal quiet. The chasm between Fina and her mother, Elaine, widens further as Elaine refuses to believe that her favorite son is a pedophile.
Thoft gracefully delivers an action-packed plot loaded with realistic dialogue and believable characters in “Duplicity.” While it’s clear the Gatchells are untrustworthy, Thoft still weaves in several well-devised twists. A hallmark of this series is Thoft illustrating the complexity of family relationships. Fina loves her family, and at heart, they are close. But Fina also is aware that she often is considered the outsider, being the only surviving daughter and non-lawyer. Fina’s insistence on her independence while keeping close contact with her family adds to her complicated personality.
“Duplicity” again shows that in the right hands, such as Thoft’s, the private detective novel has no limits.
— Oline H. Cogdill
For the week ending Jan. 8.
1. “The Mistress” by Danielle Steel (Delacorte)
2. “The Whistler” by John Grisham (Doubleday)
3. “Below the Belt” by Stuart Woods (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
4. “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
5. “Cross the Line” by James Patterson (Little, Brown)
6. “No Man’s Land” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing)
7. “Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)
8. “The Chemist” by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown)
9. “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult (Ballantine)
10. “Night School” by Lee Child (Delacorte)
1. “Food, Health, and Happiness” by Oprah Winfrey (Flatiron Books)
2. “The Lose Your Belly Diet” by Travis Stork (Ghost Mountain)
3. “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance (Harper)
4. “Jesus Always” by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson)
5. “The Princess Diarist” by Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider)
6. “Tools of Titans” by Timothy Ferriss (HMH)
7. “The Magnolia Story” by Gaines/Gaines (Thomas Nelson)
8. “The Whole30 Cookbook” by Melissa Hartwig (HMH)
9. “Killing the Rising Sun” by O’Reilly/Dugard (Henry Holt & Company)
10. “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis (Norton)
Mass Market Paperbacks
1. “Sweet Tomorrows” by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine)
2. “The Murder House” by James Patterson (Vision)
3. “Mulberry Moon” by Catherine Anderson (Jove)
4. “Crash and Burn” by Fern Michaels (Zebra)
5. “A Dog’s Purpose (movie tie-in)” by W. Bruce Cameron (Forge)
6. “Alaska Skies” by Debbie Macomber (Mira)
7. “Wyoming Brave” by Diana Palmer (Harlequin)
8. “Preacher’s Hellstorm” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle)
9. “Clawback” by J.A. Jance (Pocket)
10. “Rogue Lawyer” by John Grisham (Dell)
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