Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Book Review: Before She Knew Him

If you want a book that will make your head spin, ta-da! It has arrived!

Before She Knew Him - Peter Swanson

Catching a killer is dangerous—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 . . .

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. . .

It took me a little bit but I realize I have read another book by this author called Her Every Fear and that one was pretty good so I went into this one having high hopes. Which ended up being a good thing because this one was even better. 

You find out almost immediately that Matthew is a serial killer and that's not even the interesting part. The author introduces this like it's just another quirky fact about your neighbor but I mean, who DOESN'T have a serial killer next door, am I right? Hen and her husband Lloyd have moved into a great house in a pretty great neighborhood. There's a block party and like any good person with anxiety they debate on going but you have to attend some of these things because you don't want to be those people who don't attend social things. So they go. They meet Mira and her husband Matthew. They play nice but end up being invited to a one on one dinner with Mira and Matthew. Again, they reluctantly agree and that is where the real story begins.

All is going well until they take the obligatory house tour where they enter Matthew's office area which is a scene out of a hoarder's paradise and full of weird, small things. Supposedly he picks them up at yard sales and the like and all seems odd until Hen notices a small fencing trophy. Not sure if anyone else sees her surprise at this and though she can't totally make out the name on the trophy she wonders... could it belong to the young man who was murdered not too long ago who also won a fencing trophy? No, it couldn't be, because that would be really weird, right? Why would your neighbor have that? Well weirdo neighbor notices Hen noticing this and he wonders... is she connecting the dots? Turns out, Hen IS thinking about this and soon starts connecting dots.

The interesting thing about serial killers is that some of them have reasons for who they kill and in their head it's completely justified. It makes sense.

This book is FULL of twists. Every time I felt like I handle on the story and where we were going to go, something else would happen and I'd have to put the book down just to mentally recover from what I just read. We have deaths all over the place, mental breakdowns, everyone is lying, stalking your neighbor in the middle of the night, useless police department, suddenly a brother shows up, and by the time I got to the end I know I said, "What the actual HELL JUST HAPPENED?!" I had no idea what was going on. It's like being on a roller coaster screaming you want to get off but NOPE, hang on to your britches because the worst is yet to come.

If you like a good thriller, a book that leaves you smacking your head and rubbing your eyeballs because your brain can't handle another twist... this is your next book. You have to read this. Honestly, even at the end I'm not even completely sure who did what when or why.

I received a copy of this courtesy of TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review, but you can get your own copy through HarperCollins directly (and buy others because who can stop at one book??) and then let me know what you think.

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