Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson: Book Review

Before She Knew Him  by Peter Swanson
Published March 5, 2019 by William Morrow
320 Pages

From Publisher: an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

My Thoughts: I should probably apologize in advance for this extremely vague review BUT this is most definitely a book you don’t want to know much about going in. Trust me. Also, I loved/hated this book so rather than be super confusing with my details as to why I’ll just give you a quick overview.

As I said, I loved this book so much…up until I didn’t.  For much of the book,  I couldn’t wait to pick this back up when life intervened. But then a plot development happened and I’ll admit, I got pretty mad.

Hen and her husband Lloyd are new in the neighborhood and have been invited to their neighbor’s house for a party. When Hen notices a statue on the shelf in their den, she’s convinced it belonged to a boy who was murdered years ago. A case Hen had previously been completely obsessed with. You see, Hen has her own mental health issues but she’s determined to find out if her neighbor Matthew is a killer. 

I absolutely love how Swanson writes in your face psychopaths and mentally unstable people who may or may not be reliable. Truly, he’s brilliant at it. I found the fact that he shined a bright light on these characters and put the crazy front and center so  refreshing. There’s no beating around the bush about who’s not playing with a full deck. And I was totally happy about that.  In fact, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to see how it all played out. Until one major plot point left me feeling manipulated on such a level that rather than feeling like oh you totally got me I felt angry about what I believed to be pure gimmick. This had been such an intricate, interesting story up until that point. When I read thrillers I don’t mind being kept in the dark and being surprised by the resolution (in fact I prefer it) but I don’t want to feel tricked by the author’s use of a gimmick and that’s how this one left me feeling. I know I’m being vague but I don’t want to give a single detail away. Read this for yourself and see what you think, then message me to discuss. Overall,  this was an addictive, page turning read but I was disappointed in the end. 

Thanks to William Morrow via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

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12 thoughts on “Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson: Book Review

    1. I didn’t feel quite the level of hatred as I did when I finished Behind Her Eyes, but as we talked about, it was gimmicky


  1. Too bad that it ruined what had been a good read for you up until that point. I have read several of Swanson’s books and I find he has a habit sometimes of trying too hard to throw the reader for a loop. I am going to read this one, because I have it, and will see what I think. Nice review Renee, and you did a good job of not giving anything away.


  2. Oh no! I was hopeful about this one because I loved his last book so much. But I hate books (or movies) that make me feel manipulated. Either you drew me in enough that I’m willing to suspend belief or you think I’m stupid.

    Sorry this one didn’t work out, but thanks for not adding to my TBR!


    1. This one is so hard to talk about because I was completely drawn in and addicted to the story up until the end…I almost wish you’d read so I can get your thoughts haha.


  3. Ugh! That’s the worst. I guess I’ll give that book a pass. Too bad because it really sounded like a great idea for a plot. I love thrillers, but I hate when they leave you feeling like that. Thanks for the heads up.


    1. You’re welcome! It was a really great plot, well developed etc, it was just that one aspect wasn’t for me and I felt too manipulated. You might feel different so if you’re curious maybe still give it a try:)


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