Welcome back bibliophiles
Today, I'll be discussing Book of the Month pick Before She Knew Him.
Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.
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 murder—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...
After hearing great things, I was excited to choose Swanson's latest as my Book of the Month pick. Unfortunately, this one was a miss for me.
Despite Before She Knew Him not being a standout novel, it's important to note that Peter Swanson's writing is wonderful. The story may have lacked a cast of intriguing, likable characters and an exciting storyline, but Swanson's writing did not fail to be both colorful and concise. His fast pace and word choice kept me reading until the very end.
Sadly, the novel lacked suspense and mystery--it gave up too much too soon which resulted in the missing element of surprise. While some readers did enjoy the twist featured towards the end of the novel, it's one that has been done too many times before.
Aside from this, the cast was filled with unlikable, untrustworthy characters. Each was either a liar, cheater, or simply unreliable.
Altogether, these combined components made it difficult to connect with the story and the cast. Because of this, I wouldn't recommend this novel to fellow thriller readers.
Have you read Before She Knew Him? I'd love to hear your thoughts on Swanson's latest release.