'Every Vow You Break' by Peter Swanson
Peter Swanson always delivers a fast-paced and engaging read, and 'Every Vow You Break' is no different. What I did find different though is that the deep character development of the bad guy was lacking. While the author did give some hint about the motivation of the perpetrator, it wasn't as well fleshed out as in his previous books. Another thing he did differently here was the almost painstaking description of mundane tasks, zeroing in on each detail, just as a director does in a horror film, forcing you to focus on minutiae because you're never quite sure what might be significant, or when the next shoe might drop. That device worked for me and almost compensated for the other pitfalls. It made me pay attention and not read mindlessly, or too quickly, even though, in general, this was a very quick read.
Another aspect of the book that jumped out for me was the subtle homage Swanson paid to old movies, just as he did to old books in 'Eight Perfect Murders', and just as he did to noir fiction in general with his very first novel. It's clear that Swanson is a fan of classic narratives and studies them.
Now the plot ... I liked but didn't love it. This is the one time I felt that it strained credulity a little, which is a strange thing to say considering Swanson was able to convince me that a woman formed a bond with her serial killer next-door neighbor in 'Before She Knew Him'. But in this case, I think it may have something to do with the motivation of the bad guy. It felt a little thin to me. But in this case, as in all the others, Swanson gave us the everyday psychopath rather than the frothing-at-the-mouth homicidal maniac ... thank God. And I liked the consistency of his choice to have the main character be someone interesting and resourceful, who doesn't always make good decisions, but never does anything so head-smackingly stupid that you lose empathy for them.
I was with Abigail, the main character, the entire way, and can honestly say there was not a moment she made a decision or chose a course of action I didn't understand, which is key for me to enjoy this genre. It was, I think the most compelling part of this book. Making me feel as though I was walking the main character's path with them overcame everything else I may have had misgivings about. And at the end of the day, Peter Swanson is just a top-notch suspense writer.