Review – Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse

By | November 17, 2013

A whirlwind romance. A perfect marriage. Hannah Reilly has seized her chance at happiness. Until the day her husband fails to come home . . .

The more questions Hannah asks, the fewer answers she finds. But are the secrets that Mark has been keeping designed to protect him or protect her?

And can you ever really know what happened before you met?

I really enjoyed Lucie Whitehouse’s first two books – The House at Midnight and The Bed I Made – but this new one has moved her into a quite different league.

Hannah’s husband Mark is due home from a business trip on a flight to Heathrow, and she’s eagerly awaiting his arrival. He doesn’t appear, and Hannah can’t make contact: when she finds he’s not staying at any of his usual hotels, has apparently mislaid his mobile phone, and then finds that his work colleagues were expecting the couple to be away on a surprise trip to Rome, she starts to dig around in her perfect marriage.  She suspects Mark is having an affair, digs into the background, discovers some devastating financial information, followed by layers of secrets and lies that turns her world upside down.

As Hannah explores, you really want her to stop – she’s a really sympathetic character, with a complex back story and inner thoughts that engage you and keep you on her side, and as the plot twists and turns in different directions you really want to shout “stop” as you know it’s not going to end well. She really reminded me of a heroine in Victorian gothic – the one who enters the house alone although it’s obvious to everyone but her that there’s danger lurking – and the whole book has the feel of a horror film you watch through your fingers because you know something awful is going to happen. The story took a direction I never predicted, and  was absolutely mesmerising – this is an incredibly well constructed thriller, an easy read in many ways but a difficult one in others with its pulse raising and heart stopping moments.

I rarely read into the early hours – I know it’s a cliché, but I really couldn’t put this one down until I’d read to the end, as I had no idea where the storyline was going. The tension ramps up until it is almost unbearable – this is a page turner of the highest quality. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a chilling psychological thriller – there are a lot out there at the moment, I know, but this is certainly one I won’t forget in a hurry.

Before We Met is published by Bloomsbury on 16thJanuary: my thanks to netgalley and the publishers for my advance reading copy.

Lucie Whitehouse was born in the Cotswolds in 1975 and grew up in Warwickshire. She studied Classics at Oxford University and then began a career in publishing while spending evenings, weekends and holidays working on the book that would eventually become The House At Midnight. Her second novel, The Bed I Made, was published in 2010 and chosen for Channel 4’s TV Book Club Summer Read.

Having married in 2011, she now divides her time between the UK and Brooklyn, where she lives with her husband. She writes full time and has contributed features to the Times, the Sunday Times, the Independent, Elle and Red Magazine.

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