Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full-blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.
Soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.
When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves–until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? What about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet-lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself, so how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?
Review by Michael Connery
Peter Swanson’s most recent release, Her Every Fear, is a harrowing psychological thriller that takes the reader to an elegant apartment building in Boston and into the twisted labyrinth of the human mind. Chilling and tense with a highly focused setting, the story has a hair-raising plot with a cast of perverse characters and a brilliant noir tone.
The tale’s narrators are nuanced, twisted, depraved, and incredibly normal. Kate, who is the least objectionable character, is tormented by her own anxieties and riddled with self-doubt, living in the shadow of a previous trauma. Alan and Corbin skate the line of moral ambiguity: Alan is obsessive and watchful; Corbin is haunted by his past and struggling to redeem himself. And Henry is terrifying and disturbing, his actions and thought-process making one’s skin crawl. The author does a stellar job exploring the range of these psyches and creating believable, multi-faceted characters.
This is a character-driven story, well-paced but introspective. It is not a tale that is driven by action, though the storytelling is active in style. The author employs a looping method in his writing: leaving the reader on a cliff-hanger with one character at a chapter’s end to loop back with another narrator. This formula works well for the author, building tension and providing glimpses of the other narrators through different eyes.
Peter Swanson’s writing is elegant, lyrical, and taut. His prose is intelligent and poetic—indubitably some of the best writing in the genre. Grippingly suspenseful and disturbing, Her Every Fear is an unsettling exploration of questionable sanity, voyeurism, and murder set within the tight confines of an upscale apartment with as many doorways as there are secrets.
Highly recommended for fans of the noir and psychological thriller genres