Twenty-something Kate has been holed up in her apartment for too long, so when her distant relative Corbin is willing to swap apartments with her – his place in Boston for hers in London – she seizes the opportunity. However, soon after she arrives she discovers her neighbour has gone missing. But what does it have to do with Corbin? And how is her mysterious neighbour Alan involved?
There’s something weird about this book and it’s mostly in the writing. It’s almost as if an AI machine wrote it. A good AI machine, sure, but it all reads rather dry and businesslike. It’s very descriptive: Kate goes to the supermarket. Kate buys a list of ingredients. Kate takes this route home. Sometimes, at the end of the description, there will be an addendum: this is what Kate is thinking about. I sometimes felt like I was reading a rough draft instead of a fully finished novel. Even the title is stupidly generic and I keep forgetting it.
The plot, on the other hand, is somewhat over the top. It’s a thing that bugs me in this genre. So many authors seem to file like a plot needs to be outlandish and full of twists when what we’re actually looking for is intricacy. Unpredictability isn’t created by shock value. This novel takes the middle ground; it’s not the worst offender, sure, but it’s still quite far-fetched. I think it could have worked with better writing; I did like the idea at the heart of it.
The same goes for the characters, and once again Swanson uses a trope that is decidedly not romantic for romantic purposes. Apparently he thinks stalking is a sign of devotion, or something. Kate is never properly fleshed out. Alan’s just weird and annoyingly mopey. Corbin’s the only one who comes close to being developed. And there’s details that bug me, like the fact that underemployed Kate manages to live in a fairly sizeable flat in Belsize Park (where one bedroom apartments regularly go for over eight hundred thousand pounds). That’s just sloppy research.
A while ago I asked for recommendations on a Facebook page devoted to books if anyone knew a slightly more literary thriller – think Dennis Lehane, Kate Atkinson or Laura Lippman – and someone recommended me this guy. In that sense, it completely missed the mark. It was an okay read, but he’s not an author I’ll be trying again any time soon.