George Foss clearly remembers his first love, a girl he met during freshman orientation at college who left almost a sort of a spell on him. They were typical in their own way, in love for the first time, sharing stories of their families and home towns, sleeping together. Returning after Christmas break, George receives news that Liana has killed herself, but events eventually prove that not to be true. But who was the girl that died, and how? Was it really suicide?
Now, 20 years later, living a comfortable if uneventful life with a long-term on-again off-again girlfriend, George catches sight of Liana in a bar he frequents. He knows by this point that she’s responsible for the deaths of two people, and is probably wanted by the police still, but he goes to talk to her anyway. She’s been the one point in a life that has been, in a word, dull, and he’s drawn back to her like a moth to a flame.
Liana has a story to spin, and appeals to George for help. She’s been involved in a theft, and wants to return the money. Can George help? Even though the reader knows Liana is bad news by this point, George agrees. And soon, unsurprisingly, he is drawn deeper and deeper into a web of deceit and even murder, where things are not what they seem and people are never as decent as one might hope.
The Girl with a Clock for a Heart: A Novel reads like romantic noir, lots of dread and foreshadowing, a plot and backstory spun slowly out. Even through the reader knows from the first page that Liana is bad news, it’s obvious that her hold over George is made of sentiment and memory and a longing for adventure, a longing for a life that is beyond the dull cadences of his everyday existence. George continually makes bad choices, from his decision to turn around and meet Liana again after 20 years, to…well I don’t want to give away any spoilers.
The Girl with a Clock for a Heart is author Peter Swanson’s first novel, and it’s good. Sometimes it feels a little thin, and I must agree with reviewers who wanted George to have a little more spine and personality. The ending stretched my credulity a little bit. On the other hand, George’s desire to act in a way totally out of character for himself was appealing and presented realistically. Overall I enjoyed the book, and I recommend it for those who enjoy suspense and mystery.