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Thursday, August 20, 2015


3.5 stars out of 5

It's not an issue here on my own book review blog, but other websites at which I post reviews don't have an option of fractional ratings, so for them I rounded off my real rating of 3.5 stars to 4 instead of going the other direction - although to be honest, the latter crossed my mind. What didn't I like? For one thing, everything that happened seemed more than a little too contrived. For another, I can't imagine a real-life grown man being so gullible - time after time after time - no matter how head-over-heels in lust he thinks he is.

Apparently, the book has been optioned for a motion picture, though - and when I envision that, I'm pretty sure it would make a decent one. Looking back, most of the scenes would, I think, translate well to the silver screen (I'll vote for Ben Affleck as love-struck "boyfriend" George Foss.

I put "boyfriend" in quotes, BTW, because the word barely qualifies. Back in college in Boston, George had a brief fling with fellow student named Audrey - a fling he clearly took far more seriously than she. Now, 20 years after she vanished from his life, he sees a woman who looks like her and flips out all over again. Surprise: Turns out it's really her, although she now goes by the name of Jane. The bigger problem is that she's wanted by the police as the prime suspect in a long-ago murder (yes, George has known that fact for years but - another surprise - he shoves it aside in the hope that he can rekindle the college relationship that flamed out when she disappeared).

From there, for George, at least, it's downhill all the way. Not just once, but several times, Jane (who George now knows really is a woman named Liana from Florida) begs him to help get her out of a bind - and he agrees despite knowing that the long-ago murder he's now convinced she really did commit may be just the tip of the iceberg. 

The chapters shift from present to that brief college fling, and I found myself almost looking forward to the earlier periods. On reflection, I decided that anticipation was in part because I could understand the college-student hormones that were in play back then and wasn't constantly mumbling, as I did in the present, "For God's sake, George, grow a set!" each time Audrey/Jane/Liana made her latest demand and he quickly acquiesced. The ending, which in a very real sense isn't an ending at all (another bit of a sore point), was totally predictable.

Still, as I said at the beginning, the book is very well written and it all flows smoothly (well, except perhaps for those college-year chapters that are in all italics and thus more of a chore to deal with on the Kindle). It's definitely worth reading - keep in mind it's relatively short as books go - and it's for sure I'll be among the first to go see the movie if and when it happens.

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson (William Morrow, February 2014); 304 pp.

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