The Girl With a Clock for a Heart // by Peter Swanson

//published 2014//

This is a book that has been on the TBR since Cleopatra reviewed it in 2016.  As regular readers know, the TBR is a massive thing that continues to grow, rather than shrink, but I do eventually tackle books that have been on there for years, and I’ve started to make more of an effort to note who inspired me to add it in the first place, so that even if it takes a while, I can still give a good review credit!  :-D

I was quickly drawn into this book, and really had no idea where it was heading most of the time.  I finally set aside a bit of time on a quiet Sunday afternoon to just sit and devote myself to reading the last third of this book because I HAD TO KNOW.  In retrospect, this book definitely had some weak points, but it definitely gets high marks for keeping me thoroughly engaged while I was reading it!

Our story opens with a prologue in which George enters a house that has been marked as a crime scene, looking for a message that “she” left for him, some clue that the police would have overlooked as insignificant to their investigation.  He finds a postcard.  And then we go to chapter one.

Basically, throughout this book kept kind of reminding me of something, and when I finished it and was skimming through a few reviews on Goodreads, I came across someone describing this book as “old-school noir” and I realized that that was what I had been thinking of.  In some way, this book reminded me of the Phillip Marlowe books that I read last year – George is the traditional serious, steady guy who gets caught up in circumstances beyond his control because he is drawn there by a beautiful and irresistible femme fatale.

With that in mind, I think this book becomes more enjoyable.  There are, frankly, multiple points in time where I simply could not believe that George would yet again do something crazy for this woman, but I still found myself going with it because even though it’s set in modern times, it had this flavor that felt like they ought to have been in a smoky bar in the 1920’s.

The information throughout the story is revealed at just the right time.  We are following the current events in the present, but also learning of when George first met this mysterious woman – so his reasons for both his loyalty and hesitancy are being presented at critical moments in the current storyline.

In the end, this is a book that I hovered between a 3.5 and a 4.  Ultimately I settled on 4 because I do definitely see myself reading more of Swanson’s books in the future.  While The Girl With a Clock for a Heart wasn’t the most amazing thriller I had ever read, I did find it completely engrossing at the time, and the excellent pacing made me willing to overlook what felt like ridiculous judgments on the part of George.  It was a book that made me race to the conclusion, and then reread the prologue, and then reread random chapters throughout looking for the clues that I had missed now that I had the key.

While I don’t heartily recommend this book, I do recommend it to people who enjoy quick, snappy thrillers that may have a few gaps in character actions.  There was a lot to enjoy here, and I look forward to checking out some more of Swanson’s books in the future.