This psychological thriller features an ultra-modern house, almost as a sinister extra character.
Two vulnerable women in different time frames are desperate for affordable rental accommodation in London.
Emma (‘the girl before’) was attacked in her home and needs to find somewhere new and safe to live with her partner. After a fruitless search they are offered an affordable dream rental: an award winning architectural house; on the condition that they allow architectural students occasional tours and agree to stringent terms set by the owner/architect. Cue warning bells.
Jane is grieving following a stillbirth; a baby she was going to bring up on her own.
She gratefully moves into the house and later has a relationship with the owner Edward.
Upon learning about the death of Emma, who fell or was pushed down the stairs of the house, Jane begins piecing together scraps of information about Emma and the investigation that followed, and finds that the Edward’s wife and young son were also killed during construction of the house.
I have to say upfront I find it increasingly difficult to read novels where bad things happen to women - sadly this narrows my reading options! The Girl Before features controlling relationships - I found myself shouting 'just get a restraining order!’ It didn't help that I saw this book advertised as a Valentine's Day read: um, noooo, not unless you like creepy weirdos.
To get fully engrossed in a book I also need to like at least one of the characters, and the main characters in The Girl Before all fall short eventually.
Having said that I read this book quickly and can certainly see it being made into a movie – it is tightly written, builds tension and contain some unexpected twists.
Reviewed by Katrina
Catalogue link: The Girl Before