We are who the world thinks we are, and in the novel, The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson, none of the characters turn out to be who the world thinks they are. Each has a hidden interior life that belies their aspirational exterior. The story unfolds in the alternating voices of successful entrepreneur Ted, his wife Miranda and Lily, a woman from Miranda’s past and later a detective named Kimball.
All four lives intersect in a twisted plot that turns back on itself creating a thrilling page-turner. Swanson challenges us to empathize with unlikeable characters that all fall somewhere on the sociopath spectrum: Ted is a narcissist, Miranda is a gold digger and Lily is a serial killer with the conscious of a wild animal, as she likes to say. Lily believes that some people deserve to die. In what appears to be a chance meeting at a London airport, Ted confides in Lily that his wife Miranda is having an affair. Thus begins a murder plot between the Ted and Lily. Ted is going to kill Miranda with a plan devised by Lily who gets her thrills are seeing “bad people die.” The novel takes a sharp and shocking turn several chapters in and proceeds to peel away the layers of each person revealing the ugliness that misguided humans are capable of welding.
As a book club pick, The Kind Worth Killing was our favorite read thus far. Most of our 32 members read the book in its which is a huge credit to the author. With so many women with diversified reading tastes, its rare for the entire book club to finish our monthly pick, some give up, bored or annoyed by the writing or premise while others just can’t get into the plot. The Kind Worth Killing inspired a spirited discussion about the nature of sociopaths provoked moral and philosophical questions about what a person, who has been harmed by another, is justified in doing in the name of justice or revenge.
I highly recommend The Kind Worth Killing as a book club read for those wanting a mystery that keeps you guessing and characters that challenge your own moral and ethical high ground.