Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson has a new book out and Kerry Hammond is here to tell us about it.

All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson was released in Hardcover on April 3 by William Morrow. I am a big fan of Peter Swanson’s writing. I read and enjoyed The Kind Worth Killing in 2015; see the Mystery Playground review HERE. When the author’s latest book was about to be released, I jumped at the opportunity to read it, wondering how it would stack up to his previous books.

In All The Beautiful Lies we meet Harry Ackerson, a young man who has just learned of the death of his father. Harry leaves college, missing graduation, to travel to Maine to deal with funeral arrangements and provide moral support for his stepmother, Alice.

Alice was much younger than Harry’s father, who remarried after Harry’s mother passed away, and Harry has always felt a certain attraction toward her. Perhaps it’s the grief they are both dealing with, but Harry feels the same attraction he initially felt as they continue to spend more time together. When Alice makes it clear that she feels the attraction as well, Harry wonders what he’s really feeling and what it might mean to act on it. The police eventually decide that Harry’s father’s death is murder rather than an accident, and he can't help but wonder just who would want to kill his father and why.

The story is told in alternating chapters. We have “Then,” where we learn who Alice is, where she came from, and what she’s been through. We have “Now,” where we watch current events unfold. We witness Harry’s grief as well as his uncontrollable attraction to his not-much-older-than-him stepmother. We also meet Grace McGowan, who claims to know Harry’s father from his NYC bookstore, but who is clearly hiding something. The alternating timeline is well written and allows the story to unfold in such a way that builds suspense and keeps the reader on edge.

Swanson’s ability to build suspense is what I enjoy most in his novels. Even if I try to guess the conclusion, I find that I am always surprised by a twist or two at the very end. His plots are well thought out and never cease to draw me in. They’re never cookie cutter, but rather intriguing, unique, and interesting stories about human nature and the things people will do to get what they want.

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