“Swerve” by Vicki Pettersson is a book that I received directly from the author per a recommendation by Taylor Stevens who writes the Vanessa Michael Munroe series. Since I tend to avoid reading the back cover of books, all I knew going into this book was that Taylor Stevens gave her endorsement and that it is similar to Dean Koontz’s thrillers but with a female protagonist. That was enough for me.
The novel starts out with Kristine and her fiancé Daniel driving to his parent’s house in California. After spilling her iced coffee all over the place, Daniel pulls over at a rest stop so Kristine can change her clothes. Within minutes her world is turned upside down when she is attacked and Daniel is taken. Kristine is left with a treasure map of instructions she has to follow to get Daniel back alive. I found myself hooked from the beginning. We knew only bits and pieces about Kristine and as the book progressed the layers of her past were peeled away, hinting at something terrible.
“…I can’t even imagine what I could have done to deserve this. / Okay, maybe except for that. That one thing. / But that’s long past, and besides, everyone has something in their history that makes them flinch. My memories just happen to spring up like poisonous mushrooms, mealy and rotted and contaminated by my mother’s voice.” (Swerve, pg 55). I loved this quote. I think it is a great example of the texture that Vicki Pettersson’s writing takes on. Her words come to life on the page.
I think that Kristine is a very intriguing character. At the beginning she is just a frazzled woman on a drive to see her fiancé’s mother, whom Kristine knows disapproves of her. Then she is thrown into this impossible situation, where being disapproved of is the last thing on her mind. She needs to pull from deep within her and find the strength the save those she most cares about. Throughout this rollercoaster of a thriller, Kristine is pulled in so many different directions and needs to continue to dig for that strength to get through the horrible challenges she is currently facing. Despite the helplessness that she feels, and the weakness, she keeps fighting. “I feel the old anger well up inside of me, a flash flood of roiling heat, and for a moment I don’t stop it. Instead of fighting the situation – the man in front of me and my helplessness and my anger at both – I let myself feel it, fury so primal it burns everything from existence. I can live in this white space without pain. I can hate everything with a completeness that flattens meaning into dust, and I know I’ll be safe. I’ve lived here before.” (Swerve, pg 259).
Would I recommend this book? Yes – but not to everyone. I was warned by the author beforehand that it is a violent book and the violence was intense, even for me. It is not a book for everyone. “Swerve” is the first thriller that Pettersson has written, however she has two book series that she wrote before this novel. I am definitely intrigued by her writing and plan on reading her other works and would most certainly pick up another thriller by her.