Review of ‘Before She Knew Him’ by Peter Swanson

Thanks to NetGalley and Faber and Faber for the ARC of this book.

I think Peter Swanson is a brilliant crime/thriller writer and I have really enjoyed all his books that I’ve read. I found this one slightly less compelling than his other books. I’m not sure why, possibly because the lead characters have severe mental health issues which can be off-putting as they act unreasonably. This behaviour helps the plot, but makes the characters less empathetic.

There are two major twists in this book, normally when reading a thriller I guess the twists, or at least have some inkling that they are coming, but these twists were a complete surprise to me. In retrospect, I could see the seeds of these twists being sewn and the fact that I didn’t pick up on them suggests I wasn’t engaged enough in the book to question the storyline or think about what was going to happen. I just let it wash over me and found it a good but not excellent read.

The book follows Hen, a manic depressive artist, who suspects her new neighbour is a serial killer. She has a history of false accusations, so no one believes her suspicions, therefore she decides to investigate him herself. The drama escalates and results in several deaths.

I’d highly recommend Peter Swanson’s books, but maybe start with another one.

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