The Girl with a Clock for a Heart: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

An atmospheric tale of romantic noir with shades of Hitchcock about a man who is swept into a vortex of irresistible passion and murder when an old love mysteriously reappears

George Foss, a forty-year-old employee of a Boston literary magazine, has passed the age when he thinks he might fall madly in love or take the world by storm, or have anything truly remarkable happen to him. He spends most of his evenings at his local tavern talking about the Red Sox and the minutiae of ...

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The Girl with a Clock for a Heart: A Novel

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Overview

An atmospheric tale of romantic noir with shades of Hitchcock about a man who is swept into a vortex of irresistible passion and murder when an old love mysteriously reappears

George Foss, a forty-year-old employee of a Boston literary magazine, has passed the age when he thinks he might fall madly in love or take the world by storm, or have anything truly remarkable happen to him. He spends most of his evenings at his local tavern talking about the Red Sox and the minutiae of everyday life, and obsessing over a lost love from his college days who vanished twenty years earlier. Until she reappears.

George has both dreamed of and dreaded seeing Liana Decter again. She isn't just an ex-girlfriend or the first love George could never forget. She's also an enigma and quite possibly someone who was involved in a murder years ago, a woman whose transgressions are more in line with Greek tragedy than youthful indiscretion. But suddenly, she's back—and she needs his help. She says that some men are after her and that they believe she's stolen money from them. And now they will do whatever it takes to get it back.

George knows Liana is trouble. But he can't say no—he never could—and soon his quiet life is gone as he is pulled into a terrifying whirlpool of lies, betrayal, and murder from which there is no sure escape.

Bold and masterful, full of malevolent foreboding and subtle surprises, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart is an addictive, nonstop reading experience—an ever-tightening coil of suspense that will hold you in its grip right up to its electrifying end.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/28/2013
At the start of Swanson’s Machiavellian debut noir, magazine business manager George Foss spots Liana Decter, a college girlfriend he hasn’t seen in nearly two decades, in a Boston bar. Back then, George got off relatively unscathed: a broken heart and only peripheral involvement in a murder probe. But this time promises to be far more dangerous. Liana, a wanted fugitive going under the alias Jane Byrne, asks George for a big favor—she wants him to serve as a go-between to return most of the half million she stole from her married sugar daddy, shady furniture magnate Gerald MacLean, and to persuade Gerald to call off the goon who’s been threatening her. Predictably, little of this goes according to plan. Swanson gives readers an adrenaline rush through all the hairpin turns, but is less successful in making his central femme fatale either convincing or interesting. Cast Michelle Williams in the film version and it might be a different story. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber Associates. (Feb.)
New York Journal of Books
“[A] roller coaster thrill-fest of a ride, filled with deliciously wicked moments of mystery, murder, and mayhem, double-cross and deception. A cerebral noir thriller debut.”
Dennis Lehane
“What do you say when a woman who broke your heart years ago and is wanted for questioning in connection to a murder pops back into your life to ask a favor? If she’s as alluring as Liana Dector, you say, ‘Yes.’ And hope you survive . . . The Girl with a Clock for a Heart is a twisty, sexy, electric thrill ride.”
Wiley Cash
“An edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that dares you to turn the next page . . . This novel burns faster and hotter than a lit fuse, and you’ll be feeling its heat long after the explosive ending.”
Harper's Bazaar
“In The Girl with a Clock for a Heart a long-lost lover resurfaces, with chaos in her wake. A must read!”
Financial Times
“The labyrinthine plot here has a grip of high-tensile steel.”
Financial Times (UK)
“The labyrinthine plot here has a grip of high-tensile steel.”
Boston Globe
“The parallel stories unwind relentlessly with audacious and spectacular twists . . . An intense mix of noir, pulp fiction, and fun . . . The most unsurprising aspect of this book? It’s already been optioned for a film.”
Washington Post
“Who are literature’s most lethal women? . . . Here’s a new contender: Liana Decter, who causes endless heartbreak and occasional death in Peter Swanson’s compulsively readable [The Girl with a Clock for a Heart] . . . should be a contender for crime fiction’s best first novel of 2014.”
USA Today
“The book has pace to burn. It feels like a throwback to Ross MacDonald’s flawed but relentless work . . . glimmers with bright and original moments.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-23
In Swanson's debut crime thriller, a sedate man encounters the mysterious woman who ignited his passion years ago—and now plunges him into the depths of noir. George Foss is the accountant for a well-heeled old Boston literary magazine, and he lives a staid and quiet life: Red Sox on the tube, a cat, a low-heat semiromance with a co-worker. But one night in his local bar, he spots his long-lost first love from college, a woman whom he knew as Audrey. Her real name, he's since discovered, is Liana Decter. In the novel's most affecting and effective scenes, we see George, a lovelorn college freshman, head to Florida after "Audrey's" suicide is reported over Christmas break. He gets himself clumsily, boyishly embroiled in the mystery surrounding that death—only to discover that Audrey/Liana is not the corpse. By the time George retreats northward to resume his freshman year, she's suspected in two murders and has disappeared for good. Or not quite—it is Liana in the neighborhood pub, and soon, she's pressed her loyal sap into service as a go-between in returning some stolen money to a wealthy and shady man with whom she's been involved. George recognizes that she is that most durable noir trope, the belle dame sans merci, but if anything, the knowledge only enhances her appeal. Soon, he finds himself several coils of intrigue—and levels of danger—out of his depth. The pace is fast, the prose mostly smooth, and the plot genuinely twisty. But the characters aren't quite fully fleshed; George is sometimes too one-note in his role as helplessly enamored milquetoast, and Liana—who has great potential, possibly to be explored in the sequel this book points toward—is a little too purely a femme fatale, with the emphasis—as usual—on the second word rather than the first. We know her almost exclusively by her effect on men. Seemingly pre-measured for the movies, sometimes to its detriment but often to good effect; all in all, a quick, deft, promising first crime novel.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062267511
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/4/2014
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 10,959
  • File size: 764 KB

Meet the Author

Peter Swanson has degrees in creative writing, education, and literature from Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College. His stories and poems have appeared in the Atlantic, Mysterical-E, Vocabula Review, and Yankee Magazine. He lives with his wife in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is at work on his second novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    'The Girl With a Clock for a Heart' is a gripping noir thriller

    'The Girl With a Clock for a Heart' is a gripping noir thriller that will have readers guessing until the end while holding on to the edge of their seats. It follows main character George Foss - an average man with an average job and life. He has spent years searching for his freshman college love, a girl from Florida who supposedly committed suicide over Christmas break their freshman year. George was heartbroken over the loss and has sworn he's seen her in the years since her "death." His instincts are proven right when she appears one night at a local bar and asks George for help. He knows that she's had a shady past and has been caught up in some bad things. Now she's back from the dead (or hiding) and asking George for a favor that only he can provide.

    I found this novel to be right up my alley since one of my favorite genres is thriller fiction. The author creates a detailed and intricate story line comprised of both the present and the past, from the backstory of the two characters and their complicated histories. I loved learning the details of the story and piecing them together to attempt to figure out what was really happening. The book took a little while to get going, but after the action and intrigue picked up, it didn't stop until the very end. I found every aspect of the novel to be well written - from the characters and setting to the twists and turns of the plot and the smaller details of the story line. Definitely recommended for fans of mysteries and thrillers and those who wish to step outside their comfort zone into a great noir suspense.

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    Wonderful Page Turner

    This is a wonderful page turner by new author Peter Swanson. This book gripped me from the first sentence and I devoured it. Peter's writing reminds me of DeMille and Christie - It is so nice to have a new suspense writer on the scene. I anxiously await novel # 2 from this exciting new writer!




    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2014

    While at Mather¿s College, George meets the girl of his dreams.

    While at Mather’s College, George meets the girl of his dreams.  They quickly become inseparable, until Christmas break.  George got a call telling him that she committed suicide while visiting her parents.  He decides to head to Florida to visit her parents and pay his respects, possibly finding closure.  When he notices a picture on the mantel, he realizes that the girl these parents are grieving for is not the same girl that he knew from college.  Eventually he did know the true identity of his college sweetheart, but then she disappears.




    Twenty years later she has returned and needs George’s help.




    My Review:




    I have never met a more complex character in a book; Liana Decter has so many personas that my head spun at all her changes.   Each person she became was more manipulative and double-faced.  I was sympathetic to her wishes to go to college knowing that it is a real issue that kids want to go but cannot afford them.  That is where the sympathy ends.   From the minute she leaves her dad and takes on a different identity she became someone that could not be trusted. 




     Knowing that love can make people want to see the best in those they love made me understand why George wanted to believe her, why he tried to believe her.  I felt bad for George, he finally had the woman he wanted to love, the woman he wanted to be with, and then she double crossed him at every turn.  I wanted him to open his eyes, to realize that he had to walk away from EVERYTHING that involves Liana or one of her other identities.   I believe that if he had never met her his life would be so incredibly different, but probably not nearly as interesting.




    I have to recommend this to all my friends.   The Girl with a Clock for a Heart is a book I could not put down.   It was a book that kept me reading late into the night. 




    Here is a quote that caught my attention while reading this amazing book. 
    Liana has met up with George after her finds out that she is not the person who committed suicide.   I think this quote is the closest she ever came to telling George the whole truth, the truth about who she had been, who she was now, and who she thought she was going to be. 




    “Being Audrey was temporary.  I had become this different person, this person I’d rather have been-you know, in school, doing well, with a boyfriend like you-but it was like a I had a secret disease, or there was this clock inside of me, ticking like a heart, and at any moment an alarm would go off and Audrey Beck would no longer exist.  She’d die and I’d have to go back to being Liana Decter.”

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2014

    Excellent!

    Hard to put it down- very good book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2014

    A good read with I hpoe A good read with I hope a good ending

    I enjoyed this book but will be very happy if he continues this as a series, otherwise the ending leaves too many questions. Sign me up for #2!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2014

    YES YES

    This is a good book. It is fast reading. I started it one night when I couldnt sleep and darn neer read till daylight ! !

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2014

    Hey

    Damn

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    Waste of time

    Don't bother!!!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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