The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

imageOn a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing intimate details about themselves.

Ted talks about his marriage and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. But their game turns dark when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.”

From there, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they plot Miranda’s demise, but soon these co-conspirators are embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse–one they both cannot survive–with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

I didn’t know much about The Kind Worth Killing before I started reading it other than people had said good things and it was based loosely on Strangers on a Train, one of my favourite films.  Knowing this, I wasn’t surprised by the beginning, when Ted and Lily meet and they agree to murder Miranda.  I was surprised by the many twists and turns that followed.  Not what I expected at all and so much better than anything I could have hoped for.

Lily is the first surprise.  She is not what she leads Ted to believe but a much darker person, one that is slowly revealed as she tells her own story through chapters that alternate with Ted’s and, later, Miranda’s too.  Each has their own agenda and it’s not always what it seems.  As a reader, I was completely drawn in from the first Lily chapter and couldn’t stop turning pages.

The stories time travel too, visiting Lily’s childhood, her and Miranda’s college days and Miranda and Ted’s early life, as well as the present. With each chapter a little more is revealed and another piece of the puzzle provided.  Still, I was still pretty sure for the first third that I could see where the story was going.  Then something happened (which I won’t reveal – spoilers) and I was completely thrown.  All my assumptions were wrong.  This happened again later in the book, and again.  It was brilliant…I really didn’t know where I was heading and who would end up winning.

With complex characters I also didn’t know who I wanted to end up winning.  Neither Ted or Lily could be that sympathetic, they were planning murder after all, but Miranda was a real piece of work and the more I found out about her the less I wondered if Ted didn’t have the right idea (but only in a fictional sense obviously!).  Peter Swanson does a great job fleshing out all three and making them feel real – people you love to hate is probably a good way to describe them.  He writes well, with good pace, and did I mention the plot twists (o.k., maybe once or twice).  As a result, I couldn’t put the book down and – if you hadn’t guessed – ending up loving this one.


  1. Oh this sounds really good! Great review. Was this from Netgalley?

    1. It was brilliant. I got it from the library. It’s been out a year or so I think but I had heard it mentioned when his latest came out a few months ago and had to pick it up.

      1. Ok awesome I’m gonna see if my library has it.

  2. I loved this one too! great review 🙂

    1. Thank you. How did I wait so long to read it?

  3. I loved this book so much and even though I read it quite some time ago I still think on it… a sign of a good book 🙂

    1. No, I don’t think I’ll be forgetting it any time soon. Soooo clever!

  4. I LOVED this one 🙂 Still think about its ending! Agree with Cleo above me ^^

    1. I can’t believe I missed it when it first came out. Thank god for the library. I won’t forget this for a long time either!

  5. What a great premise, sounds excellent!

    1. It really was…well worth picking up – and as I’m behind there is another of his books to read already.

  6. I really enjoyed this one too! Have you read any his other novel, ‘The Girl With A Clock For A Heart’? It’s not supposed to be as good, which is a shame, but I’d still like to try it…

    1. No I haven’t read it but do have it on hold from the library. I have heard the same…but then this is a hard book to follow.

      1. Very true! But if he’s capable of this I have high hopes for future offerings.

  7. This sounds so good and I love that it isn’t what you expected. Just from the intro I was expecting a redo of Strangers on a Train but this sounds way more complicated. Great review!

    1. It was really complicated…so many twists!

  8. This sounds really intriguing! I bet fans of The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl would like it. I’ll have to see if my book group would be interested in reading it. I don’t usually like books with unreliable (or unlikable) characters but I want to know what happens! Nice review 🙂

    1. I would think it’s the perfect fit. Having just recently read the girl on the train, this was better. For me anyway.

  9. […] The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson, which I loved. It was a clever plot – based on strangers on a train – with so many twists and turns I couldn’t guess what was coming next or turning pages. […]

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