Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
Published by William Morrow, $27, 352 pages
Peter Swanson’s third novel begins with an international apartment-swap: Corbin goes to London and his second cousin Kate comes to Beacon Hill. She’s hoping to leave behind a traumatic history—her controlling ex-boyfriend kidnapped her before killing himself—but her arrival in Boston only brings new shivers, as she soon learns that a woman named Audrey was recently murdered in her building, located, appropriately, on Bury Street. Alan, a neighbor in the building, had snooped on Audrey through his window, and he admits to having had a secret attraction to her. And Corbin is a person of interest in the case; it’s never good to think your
landlord/relative is a killer.
Meanwhile, Corbin moves into Kate’s apartment in London, a city he’d lived in 15 years before while studying abroad. In a flashback, we see him meet a sinisterly friendly fellow student named Henry. When they discover they have a cheating girlfriend in common, the two men bond almost like sport fans over a plan for revenge, and the friendship that develops between them shares qualities with romance: starry-eyed affection, hurt, rejection and betrayal.
The story plays on the creepy separate-yet-together aspects of apartment living, and we observe as trespassers hide out, unseen, in the actual residents’ rooms, wishing we could shriek “Watch out!” Alternating the characters’ viewpoints, Swanson arrests our interest as the innocent come under suspicion and the guilty are oddly debonair.
From Page 198: She quickly sketched Jack Ludovico, his smallish features that made him look more like a boy than a man, the hair that stuck up. The strange picture from her sketchbook kept jumping into her mind as she drew, getting in the way of her memory, so that his eyes came out wrong somehow, in a way she didn’t quite understand. Still, she handed the notebook back to the detective.