On an ordinary Friday evening at his favorite Boston tavern, George Foss’s comfortable, predictable life is shattered when a beautiful woman sits down at the bar, a woman who vanished without a trace twenty years ago.
Liana Dector isn’t just an ex-girlfriend, the first love George couldn’t quite forget. She’s also a dangerous enigma and quite possibly a cold-blooded killer wanted by the police. Suddenly, she’s back—and she needs George’s help. Ruthless men believe she stole some money . . . and they will do whatever it takes to get it back.
George knows Liana is trouble. But he can’t say no—he never could—so he makes a choice that will plunge him into a terrifying whirlpool of lies, secrets, betrayal, and murder from which there is no sure escape.
Initial thoughts: Love the cover and the title!
My Take: George is still haunted by his first love. His brief but passionate love affair with Liana as a college freshman still lingers. We meet him nearing mid-life as a man unable to sustain a stable relationship with a woman and feeling the failure of his life choices.
Some chapters are told from the perspective of George when he was an impressionable young adult. He knows Liana as someone else entirely until George learns she won’t be returning to college from FL because she died. George takes it upon himself to travel to Florida to meet the family, find closure and mourn. The cathartic journey only serves to open up a bag of worms when he learns that Liana is alive and may have been involved in the death of the girl whose identity she stole. She disappears for good leaving George to sort through the detritus of their love.
Fast forward twenty years, when George spots Liana in a bar. She is still alluring and impenetrable. George is unable to see that his infatuation makes him the perfect prey for someone like Liana. He agrees to do a favor for her and quickly is embroiled in a murder which leaves him questioning his decision to fall for her charms. Is she really caught in a web of crime that she can’t get herself out of or did she use George to pull of the perfect crime?
I was caught up in sorting through the enigma of Liana. George however, seemed very hollow, lacking any substance that would lead me to feel anything deeper about his situation. George was simply the vehicle for Liana and for the author as well.
Overall: Plenty of sexiness and intrigue work together to create a careful crescendo of tension that will have you gasping for breath at the end. You will be more perplexed by Liana on the last page as George was from the first.
Rating: 4 Stars – A promising debut
About the author:
Peter Swanson’s poems, stories and reviews have appeared in such journals as The Atlantic, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Epoch, Measure, Notre Dame Review, Slant Magazine, Soundings East, Rattapallax, and The Vocabula Review. He has earned degrees in Creative Writing, Education, and Literature from Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College. He lives with his wife and cat in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Author website: http://www.peter-swanson.com
*I acquired this advance copy through the publisher. All thoughts are my own.