The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson
I mentioned this novel in a recent post and I have just finished reading it. I really can’t remember the last time I completed a novel, probably Mr Mercedes and that was around a year and a half ago. Since then I’ve part-read Doctor Sleep, Wool and Gone Girl. I can’t remember any other attempts so I think it was just those three. It’s fair to assume that those novels were crappy, when actually I’d love to read them but I feel like now isn’t the time for them, especially as I’d have to re-read a portion of each.
I’m not going to write too much about the novel because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but I will mention some things that are mild spoilers.
I didn’t need to know much about the novel before buying, the title and its blurb captured my curiosity.
“When his flight gets delayed, Ted Severson meets Lily, a magnetic stranger, in the airport bar, in the nether world of the international travel and too many martinis, he confesses his darkest secrets, about his wife’s infidelity and how he wished her dead. Without missing a beat she offers to help him carry out the task…”
Firstly I read “Severson” as Stevenson for a considerable amount of the book. Secondly I found it very intriguing; the ‘magnetic stranger’, the ‘too many martinis’, the ‘darkest secrets’, the ‘infidelity’ and the plan to murder his wife. Would would a stranger help him? How would they get away with it? Ugh how intriguing! I love the notion of strangers drinking and partaking in a deep, dark conversation.
The story starts at the airport, Lily approaches Ted and they get a drink together. I’m fascinated by social psychology, how do two strangers build up a bond? How do they build it so well that they discuss highly criminal behaviour? To me, the novel wasn’t written incredibly well, I really can’t say how, I guess I have just read more interestingly written novels, Wool being one of them, though I didn’t complete it. It’s written quite plainly which is perhaps a positive to some people. Fortunately for Mr Swanson, mystery omitted from the blurb alone and continued to the bitter end; beautiful writing wasn’t necessary. The book is written in first person, which is generally brave. Throughout the story you follow several characters instead of one and they’re all connected. At first I enjoyed Lily’s episodes over Ted’s. I loved reaching a Lily chapter. You see as far back as her childhood and her life with her unconventional parents. I felt for her as a kid, it seemed lonely and unsettling. You soon learn how willful she is when she murders a hideous man called Chet, she pushes him down a well where he’s left to rot. What’s wrong with her? Children don’t kill men and calmly deal with his belongings to make it appear that he rudely left his temporary accommodation with so much as a “thanks”. Lily is of the belief that bad people should be eliminated.
I enjoyed the switching of characters throughout the book, it enables you to see different perspectives and adds to the mystery, especially towards/at the end. However, I thought that there wasn’t enough tension created and it was lacking in emotion somewhat. I think that Ted is too blase about killing his wife and too blase about her cheating. I feel there should be more there. More anger, more heartbreak, more fear about murdering her. He should be distraught, scared, furious, paranoid. It could have been portrayed better. As with other characters aside from Lily. Maybe it’s just me? I’m not sure what I’m expecting, I just think it lacks significant important emotions. I don’t feel what the characters feel. With Lily, it’s understandable, she’s unusual and an exception.
In short, The kind Worth Killing is about a plan between two strangers to murder a cheating wife with the intention of never being discovered. I don’t want to ruin the book, I’ll just say that I was pleased with the ending. Its downfalls are quality of writing, though there is nothing drastically wrong, its lack of tension and emotion and I think there is nothing magnificently new or unique about the story. The good, I liked the switch between characters, the mystery throughout, Lily and the ending.