The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ 'Swerve'

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ 'Swerve'

Hardcover Honey's Book of the Week with Jocelyn

Swerve by Vicki Pettersson

You know how you have those words that make you shudder? Like “moist” or “tumor?" But then you know how you have those words you love? “Swerve” is one of those words for me – it sounds so action-packed, so deliberate. I like the way the V sound mirrors my own last name. I like the way it implies the avoidance of something terrible that’s jumped up into your path.

I like the word so much that I inadvertently doubled up this week on it, reading a new thriller entitled Swerve and watching a movie with the same title last night – no relation! Let’s talk briefly about the movie – it was fairly rote, an Australian wannabe noir, with Jason Clarke the only recognizable name/face in the cast. There was a car accident, there was drug money, there was a lithesome blonde and a suitcase full of ill-gotten money and a climax on a speeding train with way-too-easy-to-open doors. So, all in all, it was somewhat unbelievable.

And it was still LOADS more realistic than this week’s Book of the Week, Swerve by Vicki Pettersson. Focusing on ambitious, driven and (of course) beautiful physician’s assistant Kristine Rush, the book has a gonzo premise and jumps off quickly – driving across the Mojave Desert with her hottie surgeon fiancé, Daniel, Kristine is on her way from Las Vegas to Lake Arrowhead, California for a 4th of July celebration with Daniel’s cold and over-involved mother.  

When Daniel and Kristine stop at an empty rest stop, Kristine is attacked in the bathroom by an unseen assailant and emerges to find Daniel missing. His phone remains on the front seat of his BMW and Kristine is startled to receive a text from her own phone that says, simply, “Drive." And drive she does, following ever-increasingly-weirdo instructions in text and eventually call from a shadowy bad guy calling himself Malthus. He has Daniel, he says, and Kristine better do everything exactly as instructed or Daniel will be killed. Malthus even includes a party favor of Daniel’s eyebrow in a box (WTF) to prove he means it.

Kristine has to jump through all kinds of ridiculous hoops, including riding a roller coaster, running down a security guard, eating an entire pie, making obscene suggestions to a stranger, etc. We frequently get vague callbacks to her rough upbringing and a traumatic incident in her past that helps explain why she is the way she is today, a hard little diamond of a woman who is prepared to go the distance to maintain her current life and love.

And then about halfway through the book, Pettersson makes her grab for that Gone Girl crown and flips the script with a plot twist that any Halle Berry movie watcher could probably see coming a mile off – and the book jets off into an even darker direction as Kristine is forced to face her worst fears and relive her worst memories.

You may think because I found the book implausible, I’m not recommending it. In the immortal words of Bart Simpson “Au contraire mon Frere” – I read this book in a day and could definitely see the appeal. It would make a great movie – paging Halle Berry – and had some extremely memorable set pieces. It even has that horror movie epilogue we all love, in which the villain is defeated...


Hardcover Honey Rating: 3.5. out of 5 wacko nutjobs for this highly improbably yet oddly entertaining tale.

What are YOU reading this week?
Tell me on Twitter: @jbrivard