Title: The Girl with a Clock for a Heart
Author: Peter Swanson
Category: Thriller (no, not steampunk)
Published: February 4, 2014 by William Morrow
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
When George first met her, she was an eighteen-year-old college freshman from Sweetgum, Florida. She and George became inseparable in their first fall semester, so George was devastated when he got the news that she had committed suicide over Christmas break. But, as he stood in the living room of the girl’s grieving parents, he realized the girl in the photo on their mantelpiece – the one who had committed suicide – was not his girlfriend. Later, he discovered the true identity of the girl he had loved – and of the things she may have done to escape her past.
Now, twenty years later, she’s back, and she’s telling George that he’s the only one who can help her…
Although George is the main character in The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, the story revolves around the girl, Liana, who George fell for 20 years ago and is now back begging for help. And George of course helps, which leads him into a mess, putting his life in danger and tying him into theft and murders. It’s a mess and the thing is, he should have known better. She is not a good, honest girl. He knew that. She was not a damsel in distress that he had to save. He’s ordinary – she most certainly is not.
It’s like a never-ending onion. You peel back layers and layers of Liana’s past, her choices, her lies and deceptions, but at the end you get nothing, just more of her manipulations. I was too frustrated with George to care about him. I felt like his emotional and mental life stopped 20 years ago and now he’s just passing time. He’s to get a backbone, get a life and say no to the bad girl. Of course, he won’t. He’s still obsessed with her, his first and only love, no matter what she’s done, what lies she’s told.
Now Liana could have been interesting, but we don’t know anything about her except what George thinks he knows and what she tells him in conversation. We don’t have any insight into her feelings and thoughts, we just see her actions and what happens in their wake.
It’s odd. I feel like I kept waiting for something to happen and it never did, but at the same time all kinds of things were happening, theft and murders like I mentioned, being threatened by a bad guy, questioned by the police, trying to explain it all to his friend, sex with Liana. And he has a cat who doesn’t like women.
Maybe I just wanted more connection to the characters or to the story. If it had been an 1½ hour movie I would have said that was fun and that’s about it, but I expect more from a book, more depth maybe, more than just series of scenes and a vague ending.
I was talking about it with Amber and David at dinner the other day and Amber asked what the climax is and I didn’t have a clear answer. She talked a bit about structure and we decided that maybe the problem is it was all rising action, there was no real climax or resolution. That’s why I kept waiting for something to happen in the midst of all the action going on.