Published by Bloomsbury UK on Jan 21st 2014
Hannah, independent, headstrong, and determined not to follow in the footsteps of her bitterly divorced mother, has always avoided commitment. But one hot New York summer she meets Mark Reilly, a fellow Brit, and is swept up in a love affair that changes all her ideas about what marriage might mean.
Now, living in their elegant, expensive London townhouse and adored by her fantastically successful husband, she knows she was right to let down her guard.
But when Mark does not return from a business trip to the U.S. and when the hours of waiting for him stretch into days, the foundations of Hannah’s certainty begin to crack. Why do Mark’s colleagues believe he has gone to Paris not America? Why is there no record of him at his hotel? And who is the mysterious woman who has been telephoning him over the last few weeks?
Hannah begins to dig into her husband’s life, uncovering revelations that throw into doubt everything she has ever believed about him. As her investigation leads her away from their fairytale romance into a place of violence and fear she must decide whether the secrets Mark has been keeping are designed to protect him or protect her . . .
One of my favourite activities on a rainy Saturday afternoon (in Ireland there are many!) is to settle down and watch old thrillers and mysteries like Hitchcock and Agatha Christie. BEFORE WE MET was my literary equivalent when I picked it up and found myself enthralled by the story of Hannah and Mark.
Hannah and Mark met in New York and after a whirlwind romance, now live in London in Mark’s luxurious house. Hannah, a successful advertising exec in NY, now is a victim of the recession and is frustrated at her lack of prospects, forced to sit at home and let her mind wander. When Mark fails to return from a planned business trip and his excuses don’t match his work colleagues, Hannah lets her curiosity get the better of her and starts digging into her husband’s affairs. What she uncovers shocks her into wondering how much she really knows about her new husband and can she ever trust him again?
Lucie Whitehouse’s psychological thriller was an entertaining, engrossing work that kept me guessing. As Hannah slowly uncovers countless secrets and lies about her husband and their life together, Whitehouse’s taut pacing keeps the reader right there in the action as the mystery unfolds in a gripping page turner. I honestly didn’t know how things were going to unfold in the first half and while admittedly as the book reached the final third I guessed how it would all end up but it in no way detracted from my enjoyment.
I liked both Hannah and Mark as characters and enjoyed their development. At times Hannah’s over-reactions and paranoia was frustrating but it was believable and added to the tense atmosphere.
Overall I felt BEFORE WE MET flowed well, never stalling and always keeping the anticipation high. Perfect escapist fiction and one to pack in the suitcase for the holidays!