The Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson

The Girl with a Clock for a HeartThe Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you are thinking about reading this book, please, please, don’t read any of the summaries floating around, because they give away important plot twists.
That said, I would recommend The Girl with a Clock for a Heart to anyone who enjoys thrillers with a bit of action, romance, and atmosphere. This debut novel does all these things adequately, but, given the high praise it has received from writers like Wiley Cash and Dennis Lehane, as well as being described as having “shades of Hitchcock,” I was a little disappointed by what to me was simply a passable thriller. I think that perhaps the superlative praise used in promotion of this novel led me to have high expectations which unfortunately, were not fulfilled.
The Girl with a Clock for a Heart follows the relationship between George, an ordinary, good guy, and the mysterious and beautiful Liana, his onetime college girlfriend who he lost, but has never forgotten. When Liana reappears unexpectedly in George’s life 20 years after he last saw her and asks him for help, he is irresistibly drawn into her dangerous world.
The story takes place in Boston and Florida, and I enjoyed the author’s descriptions of the steamy summertime, of dark old pubs, and of abandoned, creepy, houses buzzing with flies. At times, the descriptions reminded me of a movie (which I think this book could be very successfully adapted into) such as Along Came a Spider. As well as the strong sense of place, the author also creates a well-paced story that is never boring.
However, although, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart was a fun, effortless read, unfortunately, for me, it was nothing more than that. I was especially disappointed by the character of Liana, who was billed as being a deeply mysterious, complex, femme fatal, but who didn’t seem to me much more than a troubled and selfish woman. She wasn’t especially brilliant or conniving. So the relationship between George and Liana wasn’t psychologically compelling for me. Secondly, after seeing the novel described as “electrifying,” “twisty,” and “nonstop,” I found myself waiting in frustration for a big reveal that never materialized. And third, some of the scenes, while enjoyable, reminded me so much of blockbuster thrillers, that I felt like what made the book work was more that the author was relying on tried and true genre tropes, rather than on new ideas.
So in the end, while there was nothing really wrong with The Girl with the Clock for a Heart, for me, it didn’t live up to the hype surrounding it. The plot was nothing exceptional, and the characters were not especially unique or complex. It was pleasant to read, but definitely not thrilling.
I would like to thank the publisher for my advance reader’s edition of The Girl with a Clock for a Heart.

View all my reviews

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
    Feb 24, 2014 @ 17:11:39

    I agree with you, it didn’t deliver what I expected at all


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