Before She Knew Him

“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.” – Goodreads

In all honesty, I’ve had Before She Knew Him sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read for a while. I wasn’t in the frame of mind to read a thriller; I’m a scaredy-cat and I have to talk myself into reading them. Spoiler alert: This book reignited my interest in the genre. My book club chose this to read for the month of June so I begrudgingly picked it up and began reading. I didn’t set it down until I had finished the very last page. It blew my mind.

I do feel that I should give a trigger warning as there are many references to some disturbing domestic violence in this book. At times, it was so intense that it really did make my heart rate increase and make my stomach hurt. It was painful to read. But, I was enamored with Peter Swanson’s writing style and I HAD to know what was going to happen between Hen and Matthew so I put my feelings on the matter aside and continued to read.

This is definitely a sit on the edge of your seat, biting your nails, holding your breath, wanting to know what was going to happen; and, when it finally comes to a head, gasping at the turn of events. Maybe it’s because I don’t read a lot of thrillers but I did NOT see the ending of this book coming. I was surprisingly impressed with this book.


As I mentioned above, Before She Knew Him, has made me call into question just how many thriller/suspense novels that are out there that I need to read. I encourage those of you who may have had this sitting on your shelf a while, to pick this book up and dive in!

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