Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson | Review

Posted March 20, 2019 by Asheley in review / 1 Comment

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson | ReviewBefore She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
Published by William Morrow on March 5, 2019
Pages: 320
Source: the publisher
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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 that 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. . .

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


I was pulled into Before She Knew Him right away, from the first chapter or two, and I never wanted to put it down at all, which felt awesome since I have been so excited to read this book-my first Peter Swanson experience! Reading friends and people all across the book community have consistently recommended his stories to me when I’ve asked for their favorite suspense thrillers.

So I normally love to say a few sentences about the story itself, but to be honest, I don’t want to say anything at all about this one. I personally went into this one 100% blindly and I think that made it super engrossing and so much more exciting for me. I recommend other people do as well. In fact, I didn’t even pay attention to the book summary and instead relied on the author’s popularity among fellow thriller readers when I chose to read this one. THIS IS WHAT YALL SHOULD DO, okay? Trust me when I say that everything unfolds in due time and it is really a lot of fun.

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
I will say these things: There are multiple POVs. They come (mostly) from a set of next-door neighbors, and at least one of of these neighbors is a potential unreliable narrator. (LOVE IT!!) I guess you can decide how many/if any while you’re reading and try to figure the whole situation out OR you can just read the story as it is presented. I chose to read it as it was presented and oh boy, it was awesome. I usually work really hard to figure out the who’s and why’s of everything, but this time I just read and it felt so good. There are also some twists in here-one is pretty doggone big. Full disclosure, I actually suspected this one early in the story and I was pretty shocked to find that I was right! I’m never right in suspenseful mystery stories. I felt like fist-pumping at how well it came together once I figured out that I was right.

Overall, I enjoyed the hell out of this one and I cannot freaking wait to read more from Peter Swanson. I’m almost embarrassed that I own several of his books and am just now reading this one as my first. But that’s how life goes sometimes and it just makes it way, way it easier for me to grab a Swanson book next time I need something to read and I want something twisty and thriller-y.

Super  good. Highly recommend!


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About Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson Author Photo

Peter Swanson is the author of five 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, Before She Knew Him. 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. He lives outside of Boston, where he is at work on his next novel.

Photo by Jim Ferguson


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


One response to “Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson | Review

  1. Sara Strand

    I agree, you can’t really say too much about this story because it gives big things away. I will say, I look at my neighbors a little more closely now! Thanks for being on this tour!

    Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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