On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.
But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .
Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda’s demise. But there are a few things about Lily’s past that she hasn’t shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.
Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive . . . with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.
Review by Michael Connery
Peter Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing is the psychological thriller genre at its best. Tautly paced and divided into three parts—each ending in a sly twist—the tale has a quartet of noir-like narrators whose morals are as ambiguous as their motives are chilling.
The characters in the tale are well-drawn, from the vengeful, sensitive husband to the manipulative, beautiful wife to the drunken, bumbling lover to the quirky, intuitive detective to the cool, composed femme fatale. Each narrator is unreliable, and it is intriguing to see each character from the other’s perspective. Though one character in particular needed a little more fleshing out of motive to be believable, the strength of the tale lay in the driving need to discover how each narrator’s machinations played out.
The character of Lily Kintner is a standout: an anti-heroine who has the moral compass of a wild animal. She is realistically and intriguingly presented. The author has done a stellar job with her character, pulling the reader into the uncomfortable position of rooting for a woman who is unapologetically a cold-blooded psychopath. Lily is an antithetical Nancy Drew—clever, intelligent, rational, calculating, prepared, and committing murders instead of solving them.
The story moves at a swift pace as the narrators’ perspectives tangle over one another in a tense cat-and-mouse game that grips the reader from the first page to the last. Swanson’s writing style is perfect for the genre: the prose is elegant, the imagery vivid, the lyrical phrases beautiful and unsettling. The Kind Worth Killing is an engrossing read, surprising, twisted, and an utterly satisfying trek through the darker side of humanity.
Highly recommended for fans of the noir and psychological thriller genres