Before She Knew Him

A Novel
Length: 10 hrs and 15 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (8,344 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Catching a killer is dangerous - especially if he lives next door.

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes 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....

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. 

Could her neighbor Matthew be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate? 

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face-to-face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him; and that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape....

©2019 Peter Swanson (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very Dark Psychological Thriller...

From the author of "The Kind Worth Killing " (which is still his best) comes a dark, disturbing, creepy yet captivating thriller. Again the publisher's summary gives a very good description. What it leaves out is the spine tingling, hair raising feeling you get when listening.
Henrietta knows her neighbor is a killer. He's told her so after she discovered a trophy from a young man who was murdered years earlier. He too was her neighbor in a different time and place.
Mental health issues run rampant. The police are disbelieving because Henrietta has a history with them.
The ending has a great twist that blew me away!
The characters are likable, even the killer (Matthew) who was molded by his father to become what he is.
The narration is excellent. The two narrators worked very well together.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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479 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Perfection... story and narration alike!

Really, I think I’m going to need Peter Swanson to start producing these books a bit quicker! I had this beauty preordered on Audible since January. I’ve been counting the days til it’s like. Now, two days later I’m standing here shocked that I’ve listened to this audiobook from start to finish within 24 hours. I’m floored with the storyline.

Swanson creates these really twisted characters. He had me questioning who to believe and then, he let me in on MOST of the secret. He unfolded everything but 2 little things I never saw coming! I was really shocked that I listened to a 10 hour audiobook so quickly! Swanson has really developed a fan in me with his last two books. But this book, Before She Knew Him, shocked me. I really don’t feel like that happens enough anymore. The way Swanson developed this story and places these little sneak peaks strategically from time to time made it darn near impossible for me to pause or turn this audiobook off. One of the best thrillers/suspenseful books I’ve listened to in months!

The narrators, Sophie Amos and Graham Halstead, were enthralling! Amos’s voice is incredibly pleasant to listen to. She really adds a lot to the audiobook... the inflections and nuances helped keep me sucked into every word Swanson wrote. It’s a while into the book when we first hear Graham Halstead’s voice. I was a bit surprised at first, I didn’t realize there was more than one narrator until he spoke. However, I was so happy to have him. It was like he pulled me out of my enchantment from Sophie Amos. He has this strong gruff-like voice when next to Amos. It was perfect to place such different sounding narrators together... they paired perfectly!

163 people found this helpful

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So boooooring

I don't know how many times I was screaming, "Just get to the point already!" There is So. Much. Filler. Will be requesting my credit back for sure.

45 people found this helpful

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Not twisty - predictable

I’ll be in the minority, but, oh well. I’ve seen this plot twist before. I didn’t find it particularly surprising and found the novel itself rather boring. Performances were good. I’m tired of books with a main character no one believes.

51 people found this helpful

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Excessive Details Destroy Story

Another miss in the category of "psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator and surprise twist ending." I would have disliked it less if I hadn't just read a great book in this same vein.

The author felt his overabundance of details (he poured a Lagunitas IPA into his favorite beer glass as he ate his grilled chicken with sweet potato fries while watching the Red Sox game on his Visio TV) could overshadow the trite story, cliche characters, and even more predicable "twist ending." Would not recommend.

107 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Ugh, tough slog!

I so loved The Kind Worth Killing! I can't believe this is the same author. I haven't even finished. It drives me crazy when the characters make such stupid choices, time after time after time. Are the stellar reviews for real?

13 people found this helpful

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Amazing!!!

I have enjoyed all of Peter Swanson’s books but this one was the best by far. Kept me enthralled the whole time and I devoured it in a day. Can’t wait for his next one. Now it is going to be hard to find a book to follow this one that is anywhere near as captivating.

36 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Torn

I had a really difficult time getting into this one. It started pulling me in around chapter 27. I will say that the twists and turns ended up being worth it! If you’re willing to give it some time, I would recommend.
Not my favorite but glad I stuck with it!
I think my view was also a little tainted by the narrator to be honest.

28 people found this helpful

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Extraordinary! Edge of your seat thriller!

Narrator: Fantastic
Story: Thrilling
Easy listen
I haven't listened to a story in a while that kept me this interested.
LOVED it!! Highly recommend.
Great for a long drive.

22 people found this helpful

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Yes. Yes. Yes. Peter Swanson is back.

His last two books were not winners for me compared to The Kind Worth Killing. This book however, I will praise. He did his research on bipolar disorder. I have it and he didn’t make it something it isn’t. We all react differently with it but he nailed mental illness as well as I have read in a fiction book. It is refreshing. Good plot twists. Narration was okay. I recommend and I recommend very little, honestly. It was dark and some of the bipolar things actually caused me to feel what she felt. Good research. Good story.

24 people found this helpful