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Before She Knew Him (2019)
by Peter Swanson
No current Talk conversations about this book.
hahahaHAhaha holy shit ( )
Intense and riveting, Peter Swanson always keeps me on the edge of my seat with his amazing books and story telling.
It starts with a dinner between next door neighbors. Mira thinks she and husband Matthew need more friends, only upon inviting Henrietta (Hen) and Lloyd over and while giving a tour of their home, does she realize that her husband might have been right to isolate them. When Hen spots a fencing trophy that reminds her of a murder victim, Dustin, with whom she had previously been obsessed, a chain of suspicion and murder is set into motion that would divide even the closest friends. The reason Hen was so obsessed with Dustinâ€™s murder? Youâ€™ll have to make it through to the last chapter, but it is one of a dozen contrived-feeling plot points in a novel I can only refer to as â€śphoned in.â€ť
I donâ€™t enjoy writing negative book reviews, but I didnâ€™t like Before She Knew Him nearly as much as I had hoped I would. Similar in many ways to The Kind Worth Killing, Before She Knew Him doesnâ€™t have the same unexpected feeling to it. Hen is mentally ill and has a history of making false accusations (conveniently, this is why no one believes her when she is the sole eye witness to a murder). People are dying, yet the police dismiss Hen out of hand to the point that she and Lloyd become more or less vigilante. The murderer sees Hen as unreliable, too, and uses that as the reason he feels comfortable disclosing the fact that heâ€™s a serial killer. And Hen, being the most gullible person on earth, apparently thinks she can stop him? At what point did she go from childrenâ€™s book illustrator to skilled therapist? Enter brother Richard, who feels shoe-horned into the plot. His sparse POV chapters feel awkwardly-constructed and jumpy at best. His role in this whole story frustrates me beyond words.
Peter Swanson is an undoubtedly talented author whose previous book warrants its received accolades, but Before She Knew Him recycles the idea that there are folks who â€śdeserveâ€ť to die. Matthew is a killer with a conscience, who repeatedly claims to kill only men who have wronged women, a cause heâ€™s taken up after a turbulent childhood with an abusive father. This isnâ€™t a particularly original backstory and it lends to an even less thrilling plot that unfolds more or less how one might expect it to with the exception of a poorly-constructed â€śtwistâ€ť ending that leaves me shaking my head. I stuck with this one, but I am glad to put it behind me. If you want to read a story that more accurately captures a mentally ill, unreliable character, read The Woman in the Window. Yeah, I know the story about the author but he did do a well-researched agoraphobe. If you havenâ€™t read The Kind Worth Killing but are thinking of picking up this one, do yourself a favor and get the other book. If youâ€™ve read it already, go into this one with lowered expectations. I let the buzz around Before She Knew Him get to me. This is certainly only an opinion, but I wish I hadnâ€™t.
> She made herself chamomile tea, put on Iron and Wine on the CD player, and set about cleaning up and organizing her space, a ritual she often did before settling down to more serious work. As she became calmer, she internally listed out her current problems in order of importance, something sheâ€™d taught herself to do years earlier when small problems would sometimes make her feel as though her life was unlivable. The idea was then to focus on one problem at a time. The other purpose of the exercise, of course, was to show yourself that your problemsâ€”no matter how cripplingâ€”were often not so bad when you listed them out. But that was clearly not her current situation. Her number one problem right now wasnâ€™t even the cheating husband and whether her marriage could be saved; it was the psychotic murderer who lived next door.
This is starting out to be an amazing year for books! I won an ARC of this book. It is the first book I have read by Peter Swanson. I want to go read every book he has written now.
Before She Knew Him was one of the best games of cat and mouse I have read. If you have read the synopsis then you know what the book is about. Iâ€™m not going to rewrite it here. Nor am I going to tell you much other than do not miss out on reading this book! I want you, my book loving friend, to enjoy every twist and turn just as I did. I want you to feel your heart pound and your mouth go dry. I want you to enjoy every moment of discovery. Go find the giveaways and enter for the ARCâ€™s. Go talk to your librarian and request a copy. Put your name on the list early. Preorder the book if you can. Circle March 2019 and write a note on it to remind yourself to buy it, if you canâ€™t preorder. Then buy your favorite drink and snacks. Prepare yourself for an entire day of reading, (how I wish I had known to do this). Once you start reading you wonâ€™t be able to stop. It will transport you and hold you captive until the final page. You really donâ€™t want to miss this one.
You might not want to read this alone, especially at night. You might find yourself thinking over your neighbors and exactly how well you know them. You might find yourself staring a bit into your friends faces for awhile. Book hazards. *shrug*
Fiction. Literature. Suspense. Thriller. HTML:
Catching a killer is dangerousâ??especially if he lives next door
From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .
But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband's office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she's long had a fascination with this unsolved murderâ??an obsession she doesn't talk about anymore, but can't fully shake either.
Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?
The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he's planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she's been watching him, that she's really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. .
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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