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In which I meander on about the books of Peter Swanson

I read the new Peter Swanson book yesterday, started in the morning, took a three hour nap, and then finished in the late afternoon. It’s his tenth book, titled A Talent For Murder.

It was a lovely day to spend reading. It rained all morning, and the apartment was dark and cozy. Stretch spent a lot of it on my chest, purring contentedly. Jenny came down to investigate now and then, reminding us that she’s here too. Sometimes they are on either side of me and I can pet them both, and that’s a real accomplishment honestly.

A Talent For Murder features Martha, a librarian who has a cat, came from Missouri and marries a stranger that she then suspects of being a serial killer.

Of course it’s not that straightforward. It never is.

Martha gets into contact with an old schoolfriend who just so happens to be Lily Kinter from The Kind Worth Killing and The Kind Worth Saving. Aka my favorite Peter Swanson character, though Henry Kimball is not too far behind. To be fair though, there’s not many of his characters that I don’t like. Even the murderers are interesting in their own terrible ways.

I reread Peter Swanson’s books every year. Not the same ones always. Sometimes I alternate.

The Girl With a Clock For A Heart (Published 2014) Read: 2016 & 2020

The Kind Worth Killing (2015) Read: 2016, 2018, 2020 & 2022

Her Every Fear (2017) Read: 2018 & 2020

All the Beautiful Lies (2018) Read: 2018, 2020 & 2021

Before She Knew Him (2019) Read: 2018, 2019, 2020 & 2021

Eight Perfect Murders (2020) Read: 2019 & 2021

Every Vow You Take (2021) Read: 2020 & 2023

Nine Lives (2022) Read: 2021 & 2023

The Kind Worth Saving (2023) Read: 2022 & 2023

A Talent for Murder (future book! to be published in 2024!) Read: 2023

Bonus: The Christmas Guest: Read earlier in 2023 and will probably read again this month.

I don’t believe these statistics are entirely correct because I’m almost certain I’ve read Her Every Fear more than twice. See also Eight Perfect Murders. On the other hand, I know very well I’ve only read Every Vow and Nine Lives twice, and both of their rereads were this year. They are probably the only two that don’t grab me as much as the others. I don’t feel like the cult in Every Vow is fleshed out enough…or maybe I just wanted more creepy horror! I like the premise of Nine Lives and yet it also frustrates me. The murders don’t seem fair, which is an odd thing to complain about a murder I know, but there you go.

I love each of the others in its own particular way.

I love Hen with her art and her obsessive nature. I always wish things ended differently somehow for Matthew, that he’d somehow get help, even though it’s far more realistic that he doesn’t.

Eight Perfect Murders always leaves me feeling melancholy. I tend to semi- Memento myself about the ending every time. How! How! Because I want it to be different, I suppose.

If you’ve ever seen a really beautiful girl, you just can’t really blame George for falling for Audrey, you just can’t. Similarly you might feel a little unnerved by Harry’s attraction to Alice, his stepmother, but you still get it.

Alice, pale, unsettling, beautiful Alice. And Joan, devious, menacing, intriguing…These two feel more like sisters than Joan and her actual sister honestly. Though obviously they would be a dangerous set of siblings. (Murder siblings…that’s what I would like to see Peter Swanson write next. Just throwing that out there to the universe. I’m a sucker for murder siblings.*)

There is almost always a character I would rather not get murdered, even if I feel they sometimes deserve it. (Looking at you, Corbin Dell.)

But Lily Kinter with her love of nature and animals, Monk’s House, and that buried well…Let’s just say I was very glad to have her back yet again in A Talent For Murder.

There is deep affection for books and reading, poetry and mysteries within all these pages. I find this deeply comforting in spite of all the murder. Also I’ve grown fond of Maine over the years and would like to visit someday.

There is nearly always a cat.

*maybe I should write murder siblings…