Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In Before She Knew Him our action kicks off with the meeting of two couples. Hen and Lloyd have moved to a new neighborhood outside of Boston. As they are settling in, they become friendly with their neighbors, Matthew and Mira.
At an evening get-together at Matthew and Mira’s house, Hen spots something on their customary tour of the house that jogs some negative memories. What seems like a standard, inoffensive sports trophy to others, is something much more in Hen’s mind.
The trophy is for fencing, a sport Matthew admits he doesn’t participate in. He got it at a yard sale, so he says. The fencing trophy reminds Hen of a boy from her old neighborhood who was murdered.
In fact, that boy went to the very same school that Matthew teaches at. Is there a connection? Hen knows a lot about that case and she definitely suspects that there is.
Unable to get the trophy and the dead boy out of her head, Hen returns to the house later to get another look at the trophy, but it’s gone. Thus begins this sensationally-plotted cat-and-mouse story, with twists at every turn.
I don’t want to say any more about the plot, because I wouldn’t want to spoil even the tiniest bit of this story.
I bought this when it was released in early-2019. That was the last time I read the synopsis, so I went into this with no preconceived notions about what this story was about. I loved how it unfolded. OMG, I was glued to this.
I listened to the audiobook and the narration was fantastic. It felt like a perfect match to the characters and the story, bringing life to every chapter.
It had a modernized-Hitchcock vibe and I loved the use of multiple character perspectives to add depth and logic to the plot. It was fascinating getting both Hen’s and Matthew’s sides of what was going on simultaneously.
Their character’s musings and motivations worked so well in contrast to one another. It build-out the story in such an incredible way, IMO.
With each chapter, I felt the plot was progressed beautifully. There’s no wasted time, or words. You are steadily building towards the shocking conclusion.
I was so invested in this and did not see the ending coming. I loved how this one wrapped up, it really gave me a nice full-circle feeling. Overall, I was impressed with this, enjoyed it way more than I expected and I cannot wait to pick up more from this author!