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Title: Before She Knew Him
Author: Peter Swanson
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: March 5, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 5.0 / Community 4.14
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…
Henrietta, Hen for short, and her husband Lloyd have moved into a new home and are adjusting to their quiet suburban life. While visiting with new neighbors, Matthew and Mira, Hen sees something in Matthews’s home office that leads her to believe he is a killer. Hen’s past makes it difficult for her to be a reliable source, so she struggles with knowing the truth and finding someone to believe her.
Told with alternating points of view, both Hen and Matthew’s stories are told. Hen is bipolar and has had difficult times in her past. She seems to have things under control, but her past does lead her to be an unreliable source. However, Matthew is hiding dark secrets from his own past.
Hen has played armchair detective in the past, but that has never worked out to her favor. When she spots something in Matthew’s office that she believes connects him with a cold case she was once obsessed with, she gets a bit obsessed again. Matthew isn’t the innocent man he pretends to be, which leads to an interesting relationship between him and Hen.
An intriguing psychological thriller with flawed characters, dark pasts, obsession, and murder. Clever, suspenseful, and twisted.
I received a free eARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.