Saturday, January 25, 2014

Book Review: "Before We Met" by Lucie Whitehouse

A number of times while I was reading Lucie Whitehouse's new novel, Before We Met, I thought to myself, this is kind of like one of those flicks on Lifetime Movie Network. You know the ones I'm talking about. But believe me when I tell you, that description isn't a bad thing, because this book hooked me completely from start to finish, even as I had an idea about how things would unfold.

On what seems like just a typical Friday night, Hannah Reilly decides to surprise her husband Mark by meeting him at London's Heathrow Airport, where he's scheduled to arrive on a flight from New York. This is familiar territory, as Mark's company used to have New York and London offices. But once everyone from his flight makes it through customs, Mark isn't among the crowd. Hannah is concerned, but can't seem to reach Mark—his cellphone goes right to voice mail. Did he miss his flight? Did something happen?

The next day, she gets a phone call from a tremendously apologetic Mark, who explains the reasons he was detained and unable to call. But that is after she finds out from one of his colleagues that he said he was taking Hannah to Rome this weekend. And why isn't Mark at the hotel he usually stays at while he's in New York, and why hasn't he given her a number to reach him at?

Although Mark promises to return on Tuesday, Hannah is becoming more suspicious, although she swore she'd never be the type of woman who spied on her husband and pried in his business, after she saw what her mother's similar actions did to her parents' marriage. But the more she looks into things to find answers, she finds only more questions. How much does she actually know her husband? Who is the woman he's apparently been talking to on the phone behind closed doors? Is Mark in some kind of trouble with his business?

Lucie Whitehouse ratchets up the suspense incrementally, to the point where you're not quite sure what to believe either. While this book veers into territory we've seen numerous times before, it's a credit to Whitehouse's storytelling ability that you can't stop reading, you can't stop wondering just where things will go. Are there valid excuses for what Hannah finds out? Has Mark been trying to protect her, or simply himself?

This was a quick read for me, and one that completely satisfied me. It doesn't matter that there weren't many surprises—even as you see things coming and you know what questions Hannah should be asking, you want to find out where the story will go. That's the mark (no pun intended) of a pretty great read.

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