‘They had a secret, the two of them, and there was no better way to start a friendship than with a secret.’
When Hen and Lloyd move into their new house in West Dartford, Mass., they’re relieved to meet, at their first block party, the only other seemingly-childless couple in their neighborhood, Matthew and Mira Dolamore. Turns out they live in the Dutch Colonial immediately next door.
When they’re invited over for dinner, however, things take a sinister turn when Hen thinks she sees something suspicious in Matthew’s study. Could this charming, mild-mannered College Professor really be hiding a dark secret, one that only Hen, whose been battling her own problems with depression and medication, could know about? Lloyd certainly doesn’t seem to believe her, and so, forced together, Hen and Matthew start to form an unlikely bond. But who, if anyone, is really in danger?
From its deeply unsettling opening, Peter Swanson, the master of contemporary domestic thrillers, fashions a novel as brilliant, dark, coruscating and surprising as Patricia Highsmith and Ira Levin at their very best.
I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to the first stop on the Before She Knew Him blog tour. Before She Knew Him is the latest release from a favourite author of mine, Peter Swanson, and was published by Faber Books on 7th March 2019. I received a free ARC of this book which has in no way influenced my review.
Peter Swanson is a must read author for me. If you haven’t read The Kind Worth Killing then you’re really missing out. It’s one of the books I recommend ALL the time when asked. Swanson’s other books are equally as good. Check out my reviews for Her Every Fear and All The Beautiful Lies by clicking the links. When I heard Faber & Faber were about to publish Before She Knew Him I dropped everything else I had scheduled to read it!
Before She Knew Him is another example of what a master Swanson is at writing characters. The book is all about Henrietta (or Hen to absolutely everyone) and her new neighbour, Matthew. Both characters have ‘something’ about them which immediately intrigued me. I wanted to know what was going to happen, what their story was going to be. Being new to the neighbourhood Hen and her husband Lloyd attend a block party where it is plainly obvious that they are unlike their new neighbours. They don’t have children whereas everyone else does. There is one other childless couple present at the party though; Matthew and Mina. Mina invites Hen and Lloyd to dinner one evening and feeling obliged, they go. Whilst on a tour of the Dolamore’s house Hen sees something which takes her breath away. She knows Matthew’s deep dark secret…
Before She Knew Him is a wonderful slow burn of a novel which held my attention from beginning to end. I felt invested in the characters. I liked Hen’s obsession with the morbid and macabre, how events in her past made her the perfect unreliable narrator. I liked how polished Matthew’s character was and his ability to justify his secret dark side. I also thoroughly enjoyed how convinced I was by the story. There is one particular twist in the story which made me gasp out loud. Before She Knew Him was a very satisfying read.
Would I recommend this book? I would if you’re after a psychological thriller that is chock full of suspense with really interesting characters. You won’t necessarily like them but oh boy, you’ll want to see their story through to the end. An intriguing page-turner of a plot where the characters are everything. Another blinder from a brilliant author and I can’t wait to see what Swanson has for us readers next.
I chose to read and review an ARC of Before She Knew Him. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 7th March 2019 and is available in hardcover, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |
Peter Swanson is the author of five novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; All the Beautiful Lies and Before She Knew Him. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.
A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.