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Before She Knew Him

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Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either...

309 pages, Hardcover

First published March 5, 2019

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About the author

Peter Swanson

15 books8,827 followers
Peter Swanson is the author of six novels including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year, and his most recent thriller, Eight Perfect Murders. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,021 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,944 reviews292k followers
May 10, 2019
"They had a secret, the two of them, and there was no better way to start a friendship than with a secret."

Some seasoned Swanson readers are saying Before She Knew Him wasn’t as compelling as his other books. Well, that bodes well for me because I found this quite thrilling!

Speaking of thrills, Before She Knew Him is a thriller, not a mystery, if that distinction is important to you. There's no whodunnit because we know almost immediately who did it. Instead, the book is at times a game of cat and mouse, at other times a psychological portrait of justice and abuse. And I was so deeply sucked into this one that I totally didn't see it coming. I feel like maybe I should have.

The book mostly switches between the perspectives of Hen, her new neighbour Matthew, and Matthew's wife, Mira. After just moving into a new home, Hen and her husband Lloyd attend a dinner party at Matthew and Mira's house. All is going well; the four of them seem to get along and have chemistry. That is, until a tour of the house reveals an object that Hen recognizes. An object that stops her in her tracks and makes her feel faint.

From then on, Hen is convinced that Matthew is a murderer. Hen has had manic episodes in the past, intense paranoia brought on by her bipolar disorder, which have led her to believe people have been trying to kill her. So Lloyd is skeptical when she claims that their new neighbour is a murderer. Is this a sign her medication isn't working? Could what she saw be a coincidence? Her imagination?

Like all good thrillers, in my opinion, this is driven by an exploration of the characters. Hen is an artist and the darkness of her work offers a creepy undertone to much of the novel. Matthew, too, has a dark past that gradually emerges over the course of the book. Hen's digging into Matthew uncovers secrets not only about him, but about her own relationship.

The whole book is sinister and compelling. It also goes to some very dark places and I would caution readers who are sensitive to scenes of graphic violence, rape and abuse to look elsewhere.

I guess I can add Swanson to my must-read list for the future.

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Profile Image for j e w e l s.
307 reviews2,344 followers
March 5, 2019
FIVE STARS- UPDATE: Happy Book birthday TODAY to this yummy thriller!
You say Peter Swanson wrote it?... I say, yes, please, just give me that book! I don't even care what it's about. If Swanson writes it, I must read it. The man creates dark characters caught up in the most clever story lines you will ever come across in this genre.

I got no business reading this yet since it doesn’t come out for at least three months, BUT I COULDN’T WAIT ANY LONGER. And now that I finished it, my head is spinning and I just want to read it all over again. Very few thriller novels do I ever want to re-read, this is one of the first! There is such a great twist about ¾ of the way in…..I did not in a million years see it coming and now I want to go back and look for the clues…. ISN'T THAT THE MOST FUN?!!!!

Look up the term “psychological thriller” in the dictionary and I’m pretty sure Swanson’s face will be there. He has shown himself to be the true master of this subject with books like THE KIND WORTH KILLING and HER EVERY FEAR. What I love about Swanson is he takes a situation (like the quiet couple living next door to a nosy neighbor) and you think you know what is going to happen. But then, he turns that case upside down and heads the characters into a totally unpredictable direction. Brilliant. So very entertaining for the reader!

This book could deservedly have been called something like THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, but there have been a slew of “neighbor” titles and I am glad he went with a different angle. Plus, that title is your first clue!

Hen is an emotionally fragile, young artist. She and her husband have just moved to a new house in the suburbs. They meet their next door neighbors at a block party and bond quickly as the only two childless couples in the hood. While dining at their neighbor’s house, Hen spots a fencing trophy in the den. This is a problem since it appears to be the exact trophy belonging to a man that had been brutally murdered a few years ago. Hen had developed an extreme obsession with the crime since it had occurred in her old neighborhood and the case had never been solved. This begins a kind of new obsession in Hen. She is convinced her new neighbor is a murderer and she sets out to watch and follow him. Did you read THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW? I was a tad disappointed with that one. This is the book I was hoping that one would have been more like. SO GOOD AND DELICIOUSLY TWISTED LIKE A PRETZEL.

Remember I said Hen is fragile? Yes, that makes her an unreliable narrator! Yippppppeeeeee. But, everyone in this novel is unreliable. I wouldn’t trust anyone in the bunch. That is all you need to know. Except this: Peter Swanson is the author and you are in capable hands. Now, just sit back and enjoy the ride!

If I’ve piqued your interest about Swanson and you have not read all his books, how I envy you! There are only a few of them, but each one is an addictive jewel. All dark suspense and exquisitely executed. You have time to read them all before this newest one comes out next year. I highly recommend each one if you are a fan of psychological thrillers.

Many thanks to the author and Edelweiss for my advance copy. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
781 reviews12.2k followers
December 17, 2018
4.25 stars

Creepy, Captivating, and a little strange!

Before She Knew Him has a Rear-Window like quality with oddball characters and some huge twists. This is an intriguing psychological thriller about the very strange friendship of two neighbors.

“They had a secret, the two of them, and there was no better way to start a friendship than with a secret.”

When artist Hen and her husband Lloyd move to a quiet suburb outside of Boston, they are hoping to embrace the quiet life their new town has to offer. But their neighbors Mira and Matthew jolt them out of their reverie and draw them into a nightmare.

I was disappointed in Swanson’s last book, so I was hesitant to read this. However, I am glad I did! Told from the POV of Hen and Matthew (with a few others mixed in), their voices kept me glued to the pages! I found the tone of the book to be a little bizarre and cartoonish, but it worked for me. The plot is dark and twisted--I had no idea how things were going to play out. I also was surprised by one of the main twists. Overall, this hit the mark--it was suspenseful and kept me guessing. It was slightly over the top, but, at the same time, completely satisfying!

I received a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway!
Profile Image for Barbie.
109 reviews302 followers
March 17, 2019

This was my first book from Peter Swanson, but all his books are on my TBR for ages. So, it was a really good start.

*** WARNING ***
If you are not familiar with the story, please don't read the blurb nor (most of) the reviews, because they are full of spoilers. Just go in blind, and you will not regret it.

I just tell you some sneak peek, without any spoilers.
This book is about two couples who are neighbors. Somebody sees something and it will be very dangerous. Everything is connected in some ways. It is a psychological thriller which has a ton of fucked up characters. That's it.

It was a fast read. I don't have so much time, but I finished it in 2 days. It is pretty good for me.
The story has great pacing, not too slow, not too fast. While I was reading, I thought that I knew every little detail and I didn't really know how it will end, since in the beginning Swanson tells the reader everything. Haha, I was wrong. The ending was so good. I didn't expect it at all. It was mind-blowing and at the same time it was creepy as hell.

All characters are screwed up. In the whole reading time, I was thinking about who I hate the most. Hen made me really angry and her husband drove me crazy. I don't like it, at all. This is the reason why I gave it "just" 3,5 stars. But the good news is they ignited strong emotions inside me.
Peter Swanson's writing style is entertaining, gripping, and so obsessive. I couldn't put down his book, even though I read it at nighttime and I was so sleepy.

Overall, this was such a good thriller. I highly recommend it to everyone who loves psychological thrillers.

Thank you to Faber and Faber and Netgalley who provided me with an ebook of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
March 3, 2019
”I didn’t know that blood could jump like that, almost like it wants to leave the human body, get as far away as possible. I’d read about it, of course, in books, and I’d seen it in movies, the way arterial blood will spray. But to see it in reality, to see the life of it, that was something...something I can’t even express in words.”

Henrietta Mazur will tell you to call her Hen because that is what everyone calls her. When people do that to me, force their nicknames on me, I have a tendency to ignore the suggestion, so Hen will be Henrietta for the length of this review, although if I hung out with her, had beers with her, I might have been inclined to call her Henry, but never Hen. Why would I call her a chicken anyway?

She is an artist, more specifically a children’s book illustrator, who is bipolar and on a host of meds to keep her from becoming manic. She is married to a man named Lloyd who seems steady and also attentive to her mental health. They have just bought a new house; she has moved into a new studio, and all seems right with the world.

Until the dinner party.

Their neighbors Matthew and Mira Dolamore, also childless like Henrietta and Lloyd in a neighborhood full of breeders, invite them over for an evening of getting to know the new people next door. Whenever I see couples with matching letter names, like Matthew and Mira, I think of a conversation I had with one of the local gossips here in town, who smugly told me that married couples with matching letters, hers were Cs, were much more likely to stay together. She must have felt comfortable confiding this observation to me because my wife and I also have matching letters. The Cs were divorced within a year.

There are no sacred rules, it seems, about happy marriage.

The dinner party actually went fine. The problem comes afterwards when the Dolamores are giving Henrietta and Lloyd a tour of their place. Henrietta sees something on the mantle over the fireplace in Matthew’s office that triggers a whole host of memories, a flurry of overwhelming thoughts, that turn her pale and feeling faint.

She looks at Matthew and sees….

There must be some mistake. She can’t possibly think this well regarded, mild mannered, school teacher is...a...killer? He does read J. D. Salinger, which makes him seem a bit more suspicious.

Or is this a manic episode?

Knowing that she is not a credible witness (there was an incident in college that makes anything she says questionable), she has to be sure that her suspicions are correct before she can go to the police.

She struggles to work on projects, even with deadlines looming. I gotta say, from a creative standpoint, if I thought a killer lived next door, I would probably be very unproductive. It would be hard to write, standing at the window all day, tracking the movements of my neighbor, binoculars in one hand, an aluminum baseball bat in the other, from morning until night.

Lloyd is supportive but skeptical. Soon a restraining order arrives, courtesy of the Dolamores. One could say things are getting out of control.

Following Matthew in the middle of the night is one of those illogical things that, as you read the book, becomes more and more logical.

Things are not working out. The police are not cooperating; they need proof, not supposition to actually condemn someone for a crime. Lloyd is becoming more and more worried and trying to stop her from becoming obsessed. Obsession is what leads to her mental meltdowns in the past. She can handle Lloyd. All she has to do is lie to him.

Maybe the best way to catch a killer is to become his friend.

The twists and turns are so unexpected that, if this book were a roller coaster ride, it would be condemned for all the passengers who arrive with broken necks at the end of the ride. Peter Swanson lulls me into thinking I know where he is going. He gives me a few key reveals, like tossing fish snacks to a hungry seal, and then he starts to unravel all that I thought I knew. The killer is at times booted off center stage as we start to discover that there are secrets nestled in behind other secrets.

Swanson never disappoints. His plots are compelling. His writing is stylish and cultured. He mentions books and actually tells us the authors and titles. I find that really annoying when an author writes that a character picks up a book and never tells us what it is. A warning to writers: a one star deduction for each infraction. I also don’t like it when I’m watching a TV show, and a guy walks up to a bar and says, “I’ll have a beer.” No one does that! If I am a bartender, and someone walks in and says give me a beer, I’m handing him the worse swill on tap. Swanson also keeps us informed of what music Henrietta is listening to. I queued up the music mentioned and listening to it as I read. Moreover, he turned me onto the soundtrack for the movie The Painted Veil, which is actually quite lovely.

Additionally, Swanson mentions food, such as a tomato and cheese omelet and Mulligatawny stew. I was texting my wife and saying, what do you think about having that Saturday morning and this Sunday evening?

Let’s just say I really get into my books, and I really immerse myself in every Peter Swanson. His books have settings and situations that, honestly, any of us could find ourselves in. Despite the modern settings, there are noirish, 1940s overtones that add a smoky atmosphere and attitude to his scintillating plots. You will frequently find yourself, while elbow deep in the plot, thinking to yourself,...what would I do if this was me? All of his books are terrific. They each stand alone so you can read them in whatever order you choose, but the important thing is...read them.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
380 reviews1,615 followers
April 1, 2019
Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

OMG! I was totally Gobsmacked by that ending. The author really fooled me. I was not expecting that, it was a big jaw dropping moment.
I thought it was clever. Another crazy thriller that had everything that I love in a thriller.
I really loved this book! Don't read the blurb, the best way to start this one is to go in blindly.
This was a fast paced read.
I thought this was just as good as The Kind Worth Killing.

This was a Traveling Sister read and it was a fun discussion.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,201 reviews34.9k followers
October 11, 2020
4.5 stars

"They had a secret, the two of them, and there was no better way to start a friendship than with a secret."

When I read Peter Swanson's book, The Kind Worth Killing, I was completely blown away. I was hooked almost instantly and knew that this was only the beginning. Have you ever read an Author and thought "why have I never read a book by him/her before?" and "when I can get my hands on another of his/her books?" Well, I just got my chance!!!!!!!!!

Hen (Henrietta) and her husband Lloyd recently purchased a home outside of Boston. Hen is an artist and works at a studio nearby and is happy that she has found stability and a nice community to live in. She has bipolar disorder and is pleased that she has found the right medication for her. For once in her life, she feels in control and happy.

But during a dinner with her next-door neighbors, Matthew and Mira, she notices a sports trophy in Matthew's office that appears to be the one which disappeared from the apartment of a man (Dustin) murdered in her former neighborhood two years ago. Hen is certain that is the dead man's trophy. You see, she has been obsessed with Dustin's unsolved murder. She knows absolutely everything there is to know about the case.

Could her next-door neighbor, Matthew be a killer? Is Hen on the verge of having a psychotic break? During her college years, during a manic episode she became obsessed with proving a fellow student had caused harm and ended up harming the woman in question.

Hen decides to keep a close eye on Matthew. Due to her prior history, no one believes her. Even her husband is concerned about her belief that their next-door neighbor is a killer. Is she right? Is she wrong? Then Matthew realizes that Hen is watching him one night in a dark parking lot.... this is when you know things are going to get interesting!!!! What will Matthew think about his neighbor following him? We get to know as we learn what both Hen and Matthew are thinking!!!

This is how you do it!!! I was drawn into this well written book right away. As I just stated, this book is well written, and I was captivated right away. Ever read a book that is well written but fails to grab you? I read one recently and it was disappointing. This was NOT the case here. This book grabbed my attention, drew me in, and had me glued to the pages/screen! This book is a journey to the truth. Is Hen right? Is she wrong?

I want to say so much more but I want to avoid spoilers. What I will say is that I appreciated how the Author handled Hen's bipolar diagnosis. I cannot stand when people with a mental health diagnosis or those in psychiatric settings are portrayed in a certain way. It boils my blood. I was happy to see that Hen was never portrayed as "crazy", "out of control" or as acting "irrationally". She was a woman with a diagnosis who took her medication and enjoyed what she did for a living. I thought he showed respect and care with her character in terms of her diagnosis.

What I also loved was that I lost track of time while reading this book. The story never lagged, and the pace felt spot on. All the characters in this book are interesting. They all have their quirks and their own secrets. Even the killer in this book is likable. There I said it, I liked the killer in this book - in-the-killer-was-a-great-character-type-of-way.

This book does not come out for a while but keep your eyes out for this one. Fans of Swanson, you will not be disappointed. For those who have not read Swanson, check him out.

Thank you to Harper Collins and Edelweiss who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :) .
977 reviews2,664 followers
March 14, 2019

I find myself saying “I should have known this, I should have figured this out”, but I didn’t and that is one reason that this thriller is a strong read.

The characters in this book are certainly all flawed, some mentally ill, but I felt them to still be believable. The plot is creepy and at times a little gruesome but if you watch any news or TV dramas you know that people are capable of murder and bizarre killing. In the beginning we aren’t quite sure what is going on with Matthew and what his motives could be, how can he form a relationship with anyone who thinks he is a killer??

Hen and Lloyd moved to a small suburb of Boston to live a quieter life and to be close to some renovated buildings that were being used as artists studios. Hen is an artist who is known for her rather bizarre, sometimes creepy artwork, in fact she “is aware that the more disturbing her etchings, the more interest they received”. She has gotten some great contracts for illustrating children’s fantasy books but she still likes to “do her own thing”. Hen has been diagnosed with bipolar disease ever since an incident in college. She has been consistently taking her medications and feels well until . . . .

Their new neighbors Matthew and Mira invite them over for dinner and a tour of their home. The decorating is quite modern and neutral with the exception of Matthew’s office which is dark and full of objects of various kinds, he says that he is a collector of things that just catch his eye. But what catches Hen’s eye is a fencing trophy that she is sure belonged to a young man, Dustin Miller, who was murdered at her college when she was in school. At the time of this unsolved murder Hen is quite obsessed with it and so knows many details about what happened and what was stolen from the victim.

Hen can’t get this image out of her head and decides to follow Matthew one evening. She thinks that he is stalking another victim and even goes to the police but no one will believe her because of her past mental problems. Is Hen starting to swing toward her “manic” state?

If this isn’t strange enough, Matthew invites her to meet with him, he wants to explain himself to her. He tells her about the abuse he suffered at his father’s hand while he and his brother, Richard, were young. The other things that he reveals, well I’ll leave that for you to find out!

While Hen is deciding whether or not to meet with Matthew she is thinking “Was there a part of her that was a little bit interested in hearing the details of what he’d done? She was, after all, being offered something that most people were never offered: "A look inside someone’s mind. A look inside a monster’s mind. Of course anybody would be interested”, but would most people agree to meet with someone they felt sure was a murderer???

This book pulled me in from the first pages, and at times I thought I had things figured out but I was very wrong.

Lately some thrillers have left me feeling unsatisfied with the plot and characters, but this is definitely a good psychological thriller with mind bending revelations. I would recommend this book to lovers of well written thrillers.

This was a Traveling Sisters read.

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Sumit RK.
404 reviews451 followers
April 19, 2019
Before She Knew Him is my second book by Peter Swanson after the The Kind Worth Killing (if you haven’t read the book, read it NOW). Just like The Kind Worth Killing, Before She Knew Him is a dark and suspenseful psychological thriller with several shocking twists.

Hen (short for Henrietta) and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston. Invited to a dinner by their neighbours next door, Hen spots a familiar object displayed on the neighbour’s (Matthew) office shelf. Soon, she realises that Mathew may not what he seems to be and may have a connection with her past life. The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying.

Swanson is a master of thrillers set in a normal world, with some twisted characters and an unreliable narrator. Before She Knew Him has all the ingredients of such a thriller in a perfect mix. Divided in 3 acts, each acts ends with a big twist. Though, I was able to figure out the main mystery quite early in story, I still enjoyed how the mystery slowly unraveled in the story. I felt the ending lacked a bit of a punch but overall the story was quite good.

Apart from the setting, Swanson excels in creating some memorable characters. The characters, each with a crucial role in the story; every character twisted in some way but as if picked from the people you encounter in real life; were all nicely developed. Each one seemingly normal on surface but deceptively twisted inside. The more you know them, the more you want to know them. I especially liked the characters of Hen & Matthew (I wish there was some more focus on Hen & Matthew). Having said that, Swanson makes it all work with some excellent writing. The story flowed nicely and it never got predictable. The twists and turns at unexpected intervals kept the story interesting, right when you think it’s getting predictable.

Overall, If you like dark thrillers with some twisted characters, you will enjoy this one. 3.5/5

Many thanks to the publishers William Morrow & Harper Collins, the author Peter Swanson and Edelweiss for the ARC.

Profile Image for Holly  B (busy month catching up).
799 reviews1,810 followers
January 5, 2019
Talk about "killer" suspense!

It is fast-paced.

It is dark and twisted.

It is strange, zany, and a bit outlandish, but at the same time seems realistic. After all, there are plenty of far-fetched true crime mysteries out there.

Henrietta and Lloyd are the new neighbors on the quiet street. Mira and Matthew are their next door neighbors and they invite them over one night for dinner. Mira gives them a "tour" of their home and Hen sees something that spikes her interest.  One thing leads to another and it isn't long before she is convinced that Matthew must be a "serial killer." What? Well, she has convinced herself she needs to lend a hand to the authorities and well, this could mean trouble (for someone).

Hen has problems of her own though, she does take medication, and fears no one will take her suspicions seriously. She is sure something is amiss next door.

I had to finish this one and find out if Hen's intuition was on the mark, but I won't say a word about that. I'll let you ride that roller coaster for yourself. I was pulled in quickly and started diagnosing all the characters and the creepy bond they were developing.

If you like unreliable narrators, eye-popping twists with some added menace and what did I just read scenes, GO FOR THIS ONE!

Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for my review copy. This one is out in March 2019. Blog review closer to pub. date.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,035 reviews3,556 followers
December 29, 2018
Question: What if your neighbor turns out to be a cold blooded killer? What if no one will believe you? Not your husband...not even the police!

Hen and Lloyd are over-the-moon. They’re moving into their new home in Massachusetts and everything is just picture perfect. Now it’s time to get acquainted with the neighbors! In particular, Matthew and Mira. The only other couple on the block who don’t have children. Great, they already share something in common! Maybe a great friendship can blossom between these new neighbors.

But when Hen and Lloyd come over for dinner, Hen sees something that may link Matthew to a past murder.
Hen is immediately consumed with the notion that she just dined with a killer! Now she just needs to convince someone, anyone to believe her!

This book started off slowly. Lots of backstory with little movement forward! By mid-book I was all in and felt Peter Swanson was back to his true form! That’s more like it. Finally, a true thriller I can sink my teeth into! I fear I’m getting more demanding from my thrillers, almost always left hoping for just a bit more punch from the ending.

Peter Swanson’s previous book All The Beautiful Lies left me cold and hesitating before picking this one up. But so glad I did! He’s right back to his previous twisty, ingenious thrillers!

A fantastic buddy read with Susanne!☃️

Thank you to Edelweiss, William Morrow Harper Collins and Peter Swanson for an ARC to read and review.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,069 reviews2,672 followers
March 2, 2022
Hen, in her early 30s, was diagnosed as bipolar as a late teen, when she made accusations against another student and then attacked her. Later she becomes obsessed with the murder of a young man, Dustin, who lived down the street from her and her husband, Lloyd. Now she and her husband live in a new house, near her art studio, and Hen becomes obsessed with her next door neighbor, accusing him of murder.

After seeing a fencing trophy in the office of her next door neighbor, Matthew, Hen is sure that he is the murderer of Dustin. Then she follows him and sees another murder. What is very interesting about this book is that no one will believe Hen because of her past bipolar accusations against her classmate, so long ago. So Matthew, who Hen believes is a murderer, is able to confess horrible things to Hen, without her being able to do anything about it.

I was fascinated by both Hen and Matthew as they did so many things that I would never do. Who would be willing to hang around with someone who they consider a serial killer? Who would kill several people and feel free to confess doing so to a person accusing him of murder? Then there is Matthew's brother Richard, who wants to kill only woman while Matthew only wants to kill men. Entering the head of these very disturbed and dangerous men had me fascinated.

There are twists and turns and what we think we know isn't always what is really true. If Matthew is really a murderer, no man is safe and if Richard ever does start murdering, no woman is safe. And Hen thinks she knows things that could help solve some murders or stop murders from ever happening but she is not considered reliable enough to have an opinion of such things.

Published March 5th 2019

Thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss for this ARC.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,132 reviews39.3k followers
May 2, 2021
This is fantastic, gripping, disturbing page-turner. I enjoyed The Kind Worth Killing which reminds me of Strangers on Train. And this book reminds me of Rear Window meets Rebecca. I think Peter Swanson uses Hitchcock’s thriller elements meticulously and creates real good psychological thrillers with mentally disturbed characters.
Of course I liked the final twists. Hen and Matthew’s weird relationship was like hunter and prey’s togetherness. Sometimes you got confused who is hunter and who is prey. But they know each other and they are the only ones who understand each other completely.
Great and different work from the thrillers I’ve read lately.
Profile Image for Jennifer Masterson.
200 reviews1,111 followers
March 14, 2019
4.5 Stars for “Before She Knew Him”. Boy was this novel creepy, bloody, dark and twisted! I loved everything about this book! From the moment I started it until the moment it ended I was completely captivated by the insane story. I did figure out the biggest twist and that’s the only reason I am giving this novel 4.5 and not 5 stars ⭐️!

I listened to the audio version. I almost skipped this book because the sample that Audible used made the narration sound kind of flat. Don’t let that Audible sample fool you because the narration turned out to be awesome!!!

Highly recommended! Just as good for me as “A Kind Worth Killing”!
Profile Image for Kylie D.
464 reviews505 followers
March 10, 2019
An interesting enough thriller, though never really gripping. Hen and her husband Lloyd have just moved to a new house in the suburbs of Boston, and soon find themselves invited to the next door neighbours house for dinner one night. As they get shown around the house Hen sees something there that shouldn't have been, something that brings to mind an unsolved murder from a few years ago.

As Hen starts to watch her new neighbour, she realises just how suspicious he is, and that is she doesn't report him someone else might get hurt. Yet Hen has a history of mental illness and no one will believe her, will they? A cat and mouse game soon develops, and Hen realises that her husband and herself are in more danger than even she thought.

This book has a good start and some interesting twists at the end, yet I found my interest waning through the middle parts. An okay read for a rainy weekend.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,421 reviews77.6k followers
August 21, 2019
I received this as an ARC via the publisher during the great thriller slump of 2018/2019, so I held off on starting it until the tides turned. I'm glad I waited, because Swanson is a favorite author of mine, and also because I was able to snag the audible version as well. Here's to hoping it's a thrilling read!

Profile Image for Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill.
523 reviews620 followers
May 14, 2019
This book is written in typical Peter Swanson fashion.....you know what that means, it is flipping mind blowing! How does he come up with this stuff? The premise was absolutely brilliant! You think your neighbor is a serial killer so what do you do? You stalk him of course! Hen, what the heck are you thinking?!

Hen and Lloyd move into a home on Sycamore Street, a nice peaceful street where nothing much happens. Yet after meeting her neighbors Mira and Matthew, she is convinced that Matthew is a murderer! However, in the past Hen has been known to be a bit obsessed with this type of thing and may not be the most reliable source. To say Hen is on a mission to prove herself right is an understatement. She was way more daring than I would ever dream of being. Hen's daring demeanor was one thing that made this book so suspenseful, she took some crazy risks!

Oh my word, this was a nail bitter! I cringed every time Hen had contact with her new neighbors. As she struggled to find out the truth I found myself freaking out wondering what creepy details would be uncovered next. Trust me, there was plenty of creep factor wrapped up into this story.

I thought I had this one all figured out and then I got completely blind sided with one hell of a twist. Wow! You did it again Peter Swanson! 5 fantastic stars. I flew through this book unable to put it down. Bring on the next one, I can't wait!
Profile Image for Meredith B.  (readingwithmere).
234 reviews161 followers
March 27, 2019
5 Stars!

I suspect my brother is not what he seems. Not that I blame him. Anyone who got through our childhood gets to do what he wants. We are owed, He and I.

Whew...talk about getting my hyped up about thrillers again. The last few I've tried to read I've just gotten bored so I'm glad I joined in on this buddy ready to pick me back up!

Hen and Lloyd live in a nice little neighborhood where they've made a good life for themselves doing what they want to do. They meet the couple next door - Mira and Matthew and as friendly neighbors do, they invite them over for dinner to get to know them. When Hen and Lloyd are taking a tour of their house, Hen notices a trophy that triggers a memory - someone was murdered who won this trophy and why would Matthew have it? When Hen goes back a few days later to visit Mira, she notices the trophy is gone.

Matthew and Mira file a restraining order against Hen because they think shes a threat however the more Hen investigates, the more she finds. The only thing is that Hen has had a past of manic behavior and has lied before. Even though she's gotten help, her pasts goes against her when she makes some serious claims. Over the course of the story we try to figure out the why and hows of killings and who is really the killer?

I loved this book! I thought that this was a really solid story and it kept my attention the entire time. I did guess what the large twist was but that didn't take away from how much I loved this book. This book isn't overly descriptive - it has just enough description to give us a solid background but the author really focused on the thrill and narrative instead of filling the first 50-100 pages with detail.

This book has different themes such as mental illness & abuse. It's not too intense but if these trigger you, I would be careful going in. I personally thought the author handled mental illness really well. The events and thoughts of the characters with mental illness felt so real and raw. This really helped the story.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book and I think if you enjoy thrillers and suspense you will enjoy this one as well! Thank you to William Morrow for my finished copy of this book!
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.5k followers
December 28, 2018
3.75 Stars.

Oddly Addictive.

You know how I always say that far-fetched plots never ever work? Well somehow, “Before She Knew Him” by Peter Swanson proved me wrong.
In the weirdest, wildest way possible, parts of this novel worked. Jaw dropping and strangely addictive, the multiple plots wove together in a way that kept my attention even though it stretched believability and I can’t quite figure out how.

When Hen suspects the worst about her nextdoor neighbor Matthew, no one believes her, not her husband or the police. She has a history, that’s the problem. Hen suffers from bipolar disorder - which has been under control for a while now though that wasn’t always the case. Then there is the fact that years ago, she was obsessed about the murder of a guy she knew in College which kinda got out of control. Now, her husband Lloyd is worried that her interest in their neighbor Matthew will spark another “episode” like the last time. Hen has been watching Matthew, following him actually and she caught him in the act. Believe it or not, now, Hen’s biggest problem isn’t the fact that no one will believe her, as I’m sure you can figure out.

“Before She Knew Him” starts out very slow - admittedly it was rough going at first, but then it turned around at the halfway mark and I was all in, gripping my kindle as if it was my life that depended on it. Though it was somewhat far-fetched - I was surprised by the fact that it worked in this context. Though certain parts of this novel are predictable, the novel is still quite enjoyable and I recommend it to suspense readers.

A buddy read with Kaceey!

Thank you to Edelweiss, William Morrow, Harper Collins and Peter Swanson for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on Goodreads and Edelweiss on 12.28.18.
Profile Image for Holly.
1,414 reviews960 followers
March 18, 2019
I absolutely loved this author's book, The Kind Worth Killing, but I found myself oddly reluctant to pick up another of his books, worried it wouldn't live up to my expectations. Turns out I was right. My one pet peeve in this genre is when a big twist is revealed and based on previous things that happened in the book IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. This book absolutely has this problem.

Major spoiler do not read unless you want basically the entire book plot spoiled!!!

Ignoring those really blatant issues, I wasn't really into this book as much because at no point is the identity of the murderer in question, it's just wondering when will the suspect be caught and who else might be killed in the meantime. The only real thing I enjoyed was the fact that it made me think about this - what would you do if you absolutely knew who a murderer was and yet absolutely no one, including the police, believed you? Is it your duty to pursue the issue further to try to expose the murderer, at a risk to your own personal safety? Or do you do nothing further, even if that means the murderer may strike again? It was an interesting quandary. It's like being Cassandra, only you're dealing with knowledge of the present instead of the future.

But I can't say I really recommend this book. Pick up The Kind Worth Killing instead if you haven't read it already - that one is fantastic!
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,259 reviews2,942 followers
January 21, 2019
4.5 stars

I've now read all 5 of Peter Swanson's books, and this one is my second favorite, ranking just behind The Kind Worth Killing. It was disturbing but I didn't think it crossed into super uncomfortable territory when it's not even fun to read. I thought it was an entertaining read and really showcased some of the author's strengths as a writer.

Hen and her husband Lloyd seek more of a quiet lifestyle and move into a neighborhood outside of Boston. They are invited over for dinner at their neighbors' house and Hen is horrified when she spots a sports trophy in the home that she is convinced belonged to a murder victim. Did Hen's neighbor Matthew have something to do with the unsolved murder or is she suffering from another psychotic episode like she had in college?

One of the things I enjoy about the author is he is not afraid to shift gears in the middle of the story and go in a different direction. Most authors would have dragged this story out and you wouldn't find out until the very end if Hen was right about Matthew or not. Instead you get that answer fairly quickly and the rest of the story plays out in an unusual way.

If you are a fan of Peter Swanson, you are no doubt aware that things are usually not quite as they seem in his stories and this one certainly is no exception. My only criticism of the book is I feel the big "OMG!" moment didn't have as big of an impact as it could have because too many hints were dropped along the way. In no way did that ruin the book for me but I am slightly disappointed I was able to correctly predict it. There were however other things in the story that did catch me off guard and it was nice to be surprised.

Definitely recommend if you are a fan of the genre or have enjoyed some of the author's other novels.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a free advance copy! I'm not sure if I won this in a giveaway or some magical book fairy knew how much I wanted to read this book and granted me my wish. I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Michelle .
862 reviews1,224 followers
April 22, 2019
This may be the best Peter Swanson book that I've read yet. He's typically a three star read for me but he has earned an extra star for this one!

Hen and her husband Lloyd have just moved into a new home right outside of Boston. They meet some new neighbors at a neighborhood block party and strike up a conversation that then leads to them making dinner arrangements. Hen & Lloyd agree and will eventually wish they hadn't.

While at Matthew and Mira's for dinner Hen notices something that she can not believe is right before her eyes. It's a trophy of murdered young man that Hen had obsessed over during a mental break a couple years back. Is her neighbor a murderer? You'll have to read it to find out.

This took me a bit to get into but once I did I didn't want to put it down. We have some genuinely creepy characters and unreliable narrators which is always a win for me. All in all this was a satisfying psych thriller that fans of the genre will be sure to devour! 4 stars!
Profile Image for Crumb.
189 reviews518 followers
March 8, 2019
How well do you really ever know someone?

This book was impressive. I've always loved Peter Swanson, falling in love with his writing after reading, The Kind Worth Killing and Her Every Fear. I feel as if he is like a wine, his writing gets better with time.

The story was chilling, nuanced, and dark. The character development was thoughtful and complex for a psychological thriller. Not only was this fast-paced, but I was interested in the protagonist, Hen. She was a complicated character with many layers.

I feel like less is more with this book. If possible, don't read the plot summary. It's best to know as little as possible. I was tremendously pleased with this book, and as usual, not surprised. I mean, hey, it's Peter Swanson.
Profile Image for Ova - Excuse My Reading.
473 reviews357 followers
January 14, 2019

OMG! This is by far the BEST book by Swanson. It's so, so good.

Take this useful advice:
Don't read the blurb. Don't read anything about this book.

Just dive in

If this was made into a movie (Please, God, let this happen) It's going to be like Hitchcock meets with Christopher Nolan. It's amazing. Swanson did something in this book that he hasn't done in other books and I LOVED IT. I think he's my favourite thriller writer, like, EVER.
Profile Image for Virginie Roy.
Author 1 book588 followers
February 15, 2021
I didn't plan to read this book entirely today, but after one chapter, I was enthralled and I had no choice but to finish it!

A super fast read and excellent mystery that I recommend to all thriller fans. I only had a problem with the ending, so I have to give it 3.5*. I really wish the final twist would have been different.

In the end, I think it was better than The Kind Worth Killing and I can't wait to read Eight Perfect Murders!
Profile Image for Umut.
355 reviews164 followers
January 31, 2019
BLEW MY MIND! Best crime fiction I've read in a long time. So clever, so unpredictable, full of twists and turns. I couldn't breathe.
This book is great on so many levels that I don't know where to start. First of all, the writing is amazing. Swanson surely knows how to do characterisation, build a perfect plot, keep you on the edge until the last moment.
Second, I think he's a very confident, daring writer as he chose to let us know who actually the criminal is and turned this into a mind blowing chase plot. It was very original and exciting to follow.
Third, he didn't hide anything from the reader. It was not one of these thrillers that you only have the information to guess the plot at the last minute and the writer wraps it up in a rush. We had everything, but still I couldn't guess.
The twist made my jaw drop open, honestly, I couldn't pull myself together for a while. And it didn't stop there, kept going on and on.
The last thing to mention is, everything was ties up so well, no loose ends. The motives of the people, the character developments, the order and turn of events were just perfect.
I can't really fault it.
This book will be on my BEST books of 2019 list for sure. I can't recommend it enough.

Thanks SO MUCH to Faber Faber for this complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,129 reviews2,288 followers
July 30, 2019
What to do when you find yourself living next door to a person you believe to be a killer? When Hen and her husband meet the neighbors next door she sees incriminating evidence that ties her neighbor to a murder. A complicating factor? Hen has a history of mental instability. Will she be taken seriously? Is her neighbor a murderer or is Hen delusional? She just may have called wolf one too many times. But the case against her neighbor is compelling.

This was a page-turner that was a bit of a slow burn but I enjoy novels that delve deeply into a character’s psyche so this works for me. I found this a solid thriller with engaging characters that played out like a movie in my mind. I listened to the audio and couldn't 'flip the pages' quickly enough. The ending may not work for everyone but it worked for me and it was just the kind of book I needed at the time. I do love a book that has an emotional/psychological element in a character.

It’s no surprise that a novel like this will have a few twists and I enjoyed the little reveals along the way. This is a solid choice if you are looking for a page-turning thriller that delivers surprises along the way while exploring some pretty twisted psychology.

* I received a copy of the book form Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
475 reviews1,311 followers
April 19, 2019
This one lacked the lustre of the kind worth killing.
It was slow to ramp up - probably not taking off until 120’pages in- so had me debating whether I should cast it aside.

It Had the recipe of a thriller - there was murder and mental illness, even a couple of interesting twists, but overall for me, this was just a mediocre one and just didn’t get me the highs I was expecting. It seemed a little far fetched at times and predictable at others.

It’s always risky reading a thriller and hoping it will take you to the dark corners as the author has previously done.

But hey maybe It’s me ...Other reviews rave about this one.
It just didn’t give me a thrill I desired.
Profile Image for Linzie (suspenseisthrillingme).
214 reviews88 followers
November 25, 2022
Having just moved from Boston to the suburbs, artist Henrietta ‘Hen’ Mazur and husband Lloyd Harding settle into the West Dartford community. At a block party not long after, they meet their next-door neighbors Mira and Matthew Dolamore. Commiserating over the fact that they are both childless couples, they agree to meet again for dinner soon.

Only a week later, the Dolamores invite Hen and Lloyd to dinner. After a quiet albeit boring meal, Mira offers to show them around their home since they have just moved in and their houses are so incredibly similar. Walking into Matthew’s study, Hen instantly recognizes a fencing trophy that is sitting on his mantle. She swears that it was owned by Dustin Miller, a man that was murdered three years before and just happened to live on Hen and Lloyd’s old street.

Returning home, she becomes obsessed with the idea that Matthew murdered Dustin and stole the trophy as a souvenir. But she’s had these proclivities to accuse people of murder before. Determined to find out for sure, she begins to watch and even follow her new neighbor. Then, one night, Hen sees something that utterly convinces her that she’s been right all along. Is Matthew a murderer? And will her knowledge put her in the crosshairs as well?

A well-paced thriller filled with first-class twists and turns, Before She Knew Him is yet another example of Peter Swanson’s superb ability to form a Hitchcock-esque plot. Delivering a stunning twist, which I definitely did not see coming (even the second time around), it caused me to question everything I’d just read trying to figure out how I’d missed the clues.

With two main point of views, one a potentially paranoid and obsessive unreliable narrator and the other a probable psychopathic murderer, I was left questioning who I trusted less. But ultimately, I found myself rooting for both as impossible as that sounds. I wanted everyone to believe Hen and I wanted Matthew to get away with his deceptions.

Rounding out a truly spectacular but dark novel were the descriptions of Hen’s art, which laid the groundwork for the chilling, fear-inducing plot that grabs you and doesn’t let go. Happily, the plot is wrapped up with a shocking and entirely unanticipated ending. An auto-buy author for me, I definitely recommend picking this up. Rating of 5 stars.

Trigger warning: mention of rape, thoughts of suicide, stalking, controlling relationship, physical and emotional abuse, infidelity
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