FIC­TION | Au­thors Peter Swan­son and Ross Arm­strong each pay homage to the great­est thriller di­rec­tor...

Crime Scene - - CONTENTS -

A pair of au­thors dis­cuss the en­dur­ing in­flu­ence of the di­rec­tor of Rear Win­dow.

He was known as the Mas­ter of Sus­pense, so it’s per­haps no sur­prise that a pair of au­thors have been chan­nelling Al­fred Hitch­cock’s scares in their new nov­els.

Peter Swan­son (top right) has fol­lowed his twisty thriller hit The Kind Worth Killing with Her Ev­ery Fear, a Bos­ton-set novel about an apart­ment swap that turns into a night­mare. “I did think of it as my take on a gothic tale,” Swan­son tells Crime Scene. “I like books that slowly im­merse you into a sit­u­a­tion and char­ac­ter.”

The novel be­gins with anx­i­ety-prone Kate Priddy trav­el­ling from Lon­don to the US to stay in her cousin’s plush home. But her ar­rival co­in­cides with the dis­cov­ery of a mur­dered wo­man in the neigh­bour­ing apart­ment. With the el­e­ment of voyeurism in Her Ev­ery Fear, Rear Win­dow (1954), star­ring James Ste­wart and Grace Kelly, is one spe­cific Hitch­cock in­flu­ence. The Bos­ton-based au­thor also cites Rope (1948) for its com­pelling por­trayal of a pair of psy­chopaths.

“He in­flu­ences my writ­ing in gen­eral just be­cause I’m a huge fan,” says Swan­son. “I get some story ideas through his movies, and I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in his kind of sus­pense. He has all these hall­marks, but one of them is or­di­nary peo­ple thrust into ex­tra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tions.” He’s such a fan, Swan­son once wrote a se­quence of 53 son­nets for each Hitch­cock film.

British au­thor Ross Arm­strong (below right) com­bines Hitch­cock-style sus­pense with a con­cept that’s close to home in his de­but novel, The Watcher. The frac­tured nar­ra­tive is from the point of view of Lily Gul­lick, a trou­bled res­i­dent of a mod­ern apart­ment com­plex in a gen­tri­fied cor­ner of Lon­don. “I lived in the flat in which Lily lives,” Arm­strong tells Crime Scene. “It was a re­ally eerie place, a real pseu­do­com­mu­nity. In some ways it’s like a mod­ern haunted house, I just thought it was such rick pick­ings to write about.”

De­scribed as “The Girl On The Train meets Rear Win­dow,” the novel has an in­creas­ingly para­noid Lily set­ting out to solve a mur­der that may or may not have hap­pened in the flat she’s been watch­ing on the other side of the reser­voir. While many psy­cho­log­i­cal thrillers are mar­keted with com­par­isons to Hitch­cock, Arm­strong says he’s often found any con­nec­tion to be su­per­fi­cial. “I wanted to do some­thing that’s re­ally un­de­ni­ably Hitch­cock­ian,” he says of Lily’s nar­ra­tive.

Arm­strong wrote the book dur­ing the day while he was ap­pear­ing in a play – his act­ing ca­reer also in­cludes Jonathan Creek, Rip­per Street and Foyle’s War. While he doesn’t an­tic­i­pate ap­pear­ing in an adap­ta­tion of The Watcher, he’s hopeful a film might hap­pen. “You could go a few dif­fer­ent ways with the book – it could be quite ab­stract or it could be a gleam­ing David Fincher-style thing,” he says.

Hav­ing been in­spired by the wa­ter­side build­ing in Stoke New­ing­ton, Arm­strong hasn’t ven­tured far at all. “Be­cause of the book, I man­aged to buy a flat next door to the place I was rent­ing, which is weird be­cause that’s where one of the other char­ac­ters lives,” he says. “It’s an odd sort of place to live, but I love it too.”

Her Ev­ery Fear (Faber & Faber) and The Watcher (HQ) are out now.

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