Cover Image: A Talent for Murder

A Talent for Murder

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Member Reviews

I recently read A Talent for Murder by Peter Swanson. I have read and reviewed several books by this author and have enjoyed them. This story is about a young woman, Martha, who has married Alan. Although Martha felt she didn't really know her husband when they wed, despite being a little controlling, she felt he was a good man who cared for her deeply. After approximately a year of marriage, she discovers what looks like blood on one of his shirts. Alan is a salesman and frequently out of town. Now Martha's mind is racing about the man she should know better and what happens when he goes to his conferences. Could he be a murderer or is she the owner of a vivid imagination? Martha enlists the help of an old college friend to help her investigate the possibility that she could actually be married to a serial killer.

This book frightened me. Peter Swanson has always been a sure thing, an auto-buy. This time I really had trouble getting into the story. I don't know why. The book was interesting from the first page. One thing is that for the most part, the story is told by a different person's perspective in each chapter. The chapters are not labeled, leaving the reader to figure out who is narrating. Originally, I found it annoying, it broke my reading cadence, broke the spell. After a while I realized it was being done on purpose and is part of the story. Don't be like me, appreciate the construction of the story right from the beginning. While the characters change with each chapter, they are all fully developed, interesting and often surprising. The plot moves along at a pleasant pace, often hitting the reader with shocking Hitchcockian twists. Once, about half-way in, I gasped so loudly my husband came running to see what was wrong. Not that I noticed him, I could not look away from the book. Now that is a good twist, and it was only one of many. I learned my lesson, to trust Peter Swanson. The novel I thought might be my nemesis, turned out to be a super fun, first class thriller.

Many thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow for the advanced copy. Of course, my views are my own. (I'll try and channel someone else next time, if you want.)

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This is the third book in what is now a full-blown series featuring former cop/current private detective Henry Kimball and the woman who stabbed him and ended his police career, killer, somewhat sociopath, and in the end hero Lily Kitner. When librarian Martha Ratliff becomes suspicious that her husband Alan, who makes a living selling kitschy education related shirts and items at trade shows, may be a serial killer, she contacts her old friend Lily, who once helped her out of a toxic relationship with a major narcissist and sociopath back in college. Lily, being sociopathic and a killer of those who really deserve it, agrees to look into the situation. While investigating the mysterious deaths of women near places Alan attended conventions Lily finds the most shocking surprise of all.
While the protagonists of these books, especially Lily, are not what you would expect to be the heroes, somehow they work in these somewhat unconventional thrillers. In this case, it's mostly a Lily adventure, as she's the one who does most of the legwork and has the novel tell things from her point of view. Henry has a much smaller supporting role in this story. But this one is full of surprises, with very unexpected twists and shocking reveals right up to the final pages.

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Why are the murders in every town her husband visits this his job? Martha doesn't feel like she really knows her husband and especially when he returns with blood on his shirt after one convention. Who can she ask for help? Her friend Lily from college that helped her out of a bad situation before. Peter Swanson keeps the twists and turned coming making you turn the page long after you should to find out it a murderer can be stopped before it's too late.

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A Talent for Murder reminded me why Peter Swanson is one of my favorite thriller authors because just when I think I know where the story is going, he does a 180 and makes me question everything I thought I knew. When I saw this was continuing the stories for Lily Kintner and Henry Kimball, introduced in one of my all-time favorite books, The Kind Worth Killing, I knew I was in for a treat of a new cat and mouse game. While Henry plays a smaller part in this book as compared to the recently released sequel, The Kind Worth Saving, Lily gets more of the spotlight and does what she does best, which is investigate and attempt to seek out justice.

When a college friend of Lily's suspects that her husband may be behind a number of murders that coincidentally have happened in towns he has been at for trade shows, she shares her suspicions with Lily, who can't let the case go and needs to get involved. But once she gets involved, every lead she was following might not be what it seems when someone from her past has her questioning things.

The story drew me in right away and even though I've learned my lesson in Swanson's books before and to not trust my initial suspicion, he once again made me fall for it when a twist came about. The pacing of the book for me was perfect, the story sped along while still teaching the reader all of the backstory they needed to know for the characters involved. The story is told in present day and flashbacks that helped in introducing the new characters. Lily is someone you feel weird about liking because of how her mind works and how dangerous she can be, but I really liked her in this story and feel like I got to know her best and why she is the person that she is from this book.

Highly recommend reading this series in order so that nothing is spoiled, but this book can also be read as a standalone. If Swanson wants to keep writing about Lily and Henry, I'll gladly keep reading books about them!

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𝐖𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐧'𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐩𝐞𝐱 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝.

The book I recommend to thriller lovers over and over is THE KIND WORTH KILLING, and I was beyond thrilled to see Lily Kintner return for a third installment. I guess you could read this book as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading the first two to get her full backstory, which is only given in bits and pieces here.

What would you do if you thought your husband was a serial killer? Soft-spoken, introverted Martha Ratliff grows concerned when her husband Alan returns home from a convention selling wares to educators and other groups with a small smear of blood on his shirt. This mid-mannered librarian decides to investigate, cross-referencing the cities her husband has traveled to over the past year and finds something that gives her pause--five murdered women. Martha has a problem--if she confronts her husband and she's wrong, she's going to lose her marriage; but if she's right and keeps quiet, she knows that more women will die.

Martha has a friend from her past, a friend who once helped her get away from a sadistic and controlling boyfriend. She calls Lily Kintner who is intrigued enough to investigate, and what she finds is something so explosive, so shocking, you will be glued to this story until the final page.

I love the detached, almost formal third person narrator, who appears to comment dryly on the cast of characters. My heart went out to Martha, described as such a plain, unremarkable woman that she was shocked when Alan asked her to marry him. She ponders if she loves him or is just glad for the company. A lot of people don't know what to make of Lily, and here's my input. I don't see her as a sociopath; instead, I see her more as a harbinger of justice. There is no malice behind her actions. There is another character that I won't comment on as it's a spoiler, but wow...the attention to detail bringing this one to life was unmatched.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and William Morrow Books for the early copy. This title will publish July 4, 2024.

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I really enjoyed this and flew threw it! Loved the premise of a mousey librarian suspecting her traveling salesman husband of being a serial killer. The twists and turns were good and mostly unexpected. The cat and mouse aspect had you on edge.

Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow books for the advanced ecopy in exchange for my honest review.

*Note* This book contains Lilly Kitner and Henry Kimball as characters and is listed as a book 3 in series (The Kind Worth Killing), but I do also think it could be read as a stand alone. If you read this first, go back and read TKWK too. You’ll thank me later!

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Peter Swanson never fails to deliver a deliciously chilling story filled with moments of thrills, but even more importantly, schooling his readers on great works of literature! Bravo!

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Peter Swanson once again writes a psychological thriller which takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of characters and murders! As usual he leads you to believe you know who the suspect is, but then he leads you down another path. This book was fantastic! Thanks for advance read.

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Martha, a newly married librarian, begins to suspect that her traveling salesman husband might be a serial killer. She calls upon Lily Kintner, her friend from grad school, to help with her dilemma.

This is billed as the third book in the Henry Kimball/Lily Kintner series, but I’m not familiar with that series and though there are some references to previous cases one need not have read earlier books to get along fine with this one. And this one is all Lily. The story didn’t go where I was expecting but I very much enjoyed it. Recommended.

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Lily Kinter is one of the most memorable book characters I’ve come across and I was thrilled to see she was returning for a 3rd book! I thought this was a great way to introduce a new character who was a college friend of Lily’s, calling on her skills and creating a reason to reach out to Henry Kimball as well. I thought this book was a little more predictable than the others, and kept waiting for the big twist to come. It was still a quick and entertaining read that held my interest the entire book, just a little more straightforward than I’ve come to expect from the author.

This could easily be read as a standalone, but I do think you will enjoy it more if you know Lily’s backstory. Plus The Kind Worth Killing and The Kind Worth Saving are both amazing books!

Thanks William Morrow Books and NetGalley for the DRC! A Talent for Murder will be out June 11, 2024.

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I didn't know this book was the third book in a series, but it didn't affect the story at all for me. I do want to read the other books in the series after reading this one. This book sucked me in right from the beginning! It was a little dark and twisted, but I really, really liked it!

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Such a fun addition to the series. I love getting to know more layers of Lily. I neeeed Henry and Lily to have a more developed relationship. I need them to be together.

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The Kind Worth Killing is the book that got me into thrillers so many years ago. Lily Kintner is one of my all-time favorite characters, so I was excited to be back in her world.

This series has been fun to read, although the first book will always remain my favorite. A Talent for Murder is a fast-paced, twisty, and unputdownable addition to the series. In true Peter Swanson fashion, there is a mic-drop ending that left me speechless.

Thank you, Netgalley and William Morrow for the advanced copy!

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Dark, twisty, oh-so-murdery! I couldn’t put this book down. The Lily Kintner/Henry Kimball series has gotten better with each book. Swanson is an auto-read author for me, but I’d place “A Talent for Murder” on my top three list of his books to date. Bring on the next one!

Thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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I loved this!! Peter Swanson is one of my auto-read authors so I was thrilled when I got the chance to read this ARC. I started as soon as I received approval and couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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I thought this was an excellent edition to Lily Kintner’s story. Less twisty and more straightforward than the previous books but still a fast paced, gripping page turner with so much suspense and action. I think Lily is a bad ass character and it was fun learning more about who she is and where she came from.

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Having read the earlier 2 books with Lily and Henry, I knew it would be good and I couldn’t wait to start it! I was right! Fantastic! I was really excited to read more about Lily and her life. She is definitely main character material. You don’t want to like her at first but she grows on you. Thank you so much for the ARC. It’s a pleasure to read Peter Swanson and I plan to go through his backlog soon!

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Lily's back! The Kind Worth Killing is one of my favorite novels ever so I was thrilled to see it become a series. The sequel was pretty good, but this one is even better! There were some major twists, and I did not guess the direction the plot was going at all! I loved seeing Lily as a central character again with Henry in a supporting role. A Talent for Murder is fast-paced, well-written and hard to put down. The final chapter was amazing! Lily is such a great character and I hope we see more of her soon. Peter Swanson is a talented author, and he continues to captivate me with his twisty plots and intriguing characters. Highly recommended!

Thank you NetGalley and William Morrow for the ARC!

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I didn't realize this was yet another entry in Swanson's 'Kind Worth Killing/Saving' series (of sorts), but it mostly works as a standalone (though you can clearly tell that MC Lily has more depth explored elsewhere). I found the writing here really, bizarrely basic, and I found the plotting equally basic but also goofy as hell. This book wasn't for me, and I think I'm learning I should stop picking up later-day Swanson books.

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Firstly, I must confess my unwavering fandom for "The Kind Worth Killing," the book that introduced readers to the eccentric, highly unique, and very dangerous yet intelligent Lily Kintner, along with the once-police-officer-turned-private-investigator Henry Kimball: the poet of disturbed limericks. That book blew my mind, and its predecessor, "Kind Worth Saving," proved to be a riveting and mind-bending sequel. While it didn't shake me to the core like the first book with its clever twist, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

When I discovered that Peter Swanson was bringing back this unusual duo for another intriguing mystery with a compelling plot—a meek librarian suspecting she's married to a serial killer—I couldn't contain my excitement. I would have traded anything for an early copy of this book. Thankfully, William Morrow gave me the amazing opportunity to dive into this digital reviewer copy, making me scream "Yessss" and pump my fist in the air Judd Nelson-style at the end of Breakfast Club while "Don't You Forget About Me" played in my head!

I must admit, I wish I hadn't devoured this book so quickly, but I simply couldn't help myself. I was hooked from the opening scene: a teachers' convention, a polygamous and eccentric young teacher, Josie Nixon, seeking a quick hookup that ends in tragedy. We are then introduced to Martha Ratliff, an old friend of Lily from college, who works as an archival librarian and ties the knot with a sweet, man of few words, a little odd but always kind salesman. He spends half of the year at various teachers' conventions selling quirky merchandise. When Martha finds a bloodstain on the back of her husband's shirt, she becomes alarmed. Her rich imagination and obsession with investigating mysteries lead her to connect the dots, discovering that each time her husband goes on a business trip, a murder occurs nearby where he stays. Could these incidents be mere coincidences, or is there something sinister about her husband that she needs to uncover? Could it be connected to the curse her college friend placed on her?

Martha decides to seek help from the person who saved her from a sexual predator she was dating. Enter Lily, recently moved to her childhood home to live with her divorced parents, who reluctantly share the same house for financial and health reasons. Lily, currently between jobs, is pen-palling with Henry Kimball. When Martha shares her story, Lily gets intrigued and decides to visit the next teachers' convention to meet Martha's husband in person. Little does she expect to be drawn into something even twistier that requires her to call on Henry to team up against.

Overall, the ending was spectacular! It's always a pleasure to read a new Lily Kintner/Henry Kimball book. Aren't they a match made in heaven? I need another sequel ASAP! And I hope the next book will be a little longer, or I'll practice reading a little slower.

A heartfelt thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow for sharing one of my most anticipated books' digital reviewer copy with me in exchange for my honest opinions.

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