Novel: Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos
Published: February 3rd 2015 by Mysterious Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review through Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Everyone in the quiet Jersey Shore town of Silver Bay knows the story: on a Sunday evening in September 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a blowout block party, then murdered his beautiful wife and three-year-old daughter.
But everyone is wrong. The daughter got away. Now she is nearly eighteen and tired of living in secrecy. Under the name Melanie Denison, she has spent the last fifteen years in small-town West Virginia as part of the Witness Protection Program. She has never been allowed to travel, go to a school dance, or even have internet at home. Precautions must be taken at every turn, because Ramsey Miller was never caught and might still be looking for his daughter. Yet despite strict house rules, Melanie has entered into a relationship with a young teacher at the local high school and is now ten weeks pregnant. She doesn’t want her child to live in hiding as she has had to. Defying her guardians and taking matters into her own hands, Melanie returns to Silver Bay in hopes of doing what the authorities have failed to do: find her father before he finds her.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t read a lot of mysteries/thrillers anymore. I used to read a lot of crime fiction when I was younger -I think about 5 years ago? As I’m writing this, I realize I am usually focused on one genre. I first started reading fantasy, went on to romance, then crime fiction, archaeological crime fiction and back to fantasy -YA and adult alike. I need to be more open in my genre-reading. Anyway, the point was that I haven’t read a lot of mystery/thriller books lately. But when I saw the description of this one on Edelweiss, I requested it anyway because it sounded interesting. I really don’t regret that decision.
So, the story revolves around Melanie and her past. Now 18 years old, she has decided to return to her birthplace to find her father so she will no longer have to be in the Witness Protection Program. It was such an interesting story!
The novel is told through dual timelines: one in present time, mostly from Melanie’s point of view, and one in the past leading up to the time of the murder. This provides an interesting perspective because you not only see her investigations but also what truly happened.
As some of you may know, I’ve been in a huge reading slump for about 2 months now. I sped through this book in one or two days I think. Which at this moment is quite the accomplishment. So I do think the mystery is captivating. I wanted to continue reading and find out what really happened that fateful night.
The last thing I’ll say about the plot is that I really didn’t see the ending coming. And because of that, it wasn’t the story I was expecting it to be -but not in a bad way? So I did like the mystery. I wouldn’t call this a thriller though… At no point was I creeped out or scared -but maybe that’s because I watch a lot of Criminal Minds and like those kind of stories? Anyway, it was a solid mystery novel to me.
This was definitely fast-paced, maybe at some points a bit too? I don’t know how to explain it, but I would’ve gladly seen it a bit longer.
Melanie. Now, I have a lot of sympathy for Melanie. Her life certainly hasn’t been the easiest. I both liked her character and didn’t. I liked certain aspects of her: how she sticks to her decisions, that she wanted to find out the truth, that he wanted to create a better life. Those are all great qualities.
And for once, it was nice to see the struggle with the detective part. Often, in mystery stories someone sets out on a path to find the truth. And magically, everyone believes the stories they tell, allows interviews and suddenly they uncover the wild scandal. That would never actually happen! Most of us would be terrible detectives, and most of all no one would believe you if you just started going to people asking for an interview claiming to be a journalist or detective. Everyone would at least ask for proof or look the person up. I like that Melanie wasn’t a perfect detective or journalist, but that she needed help from people who were.
For some reason, I didn’t totally love her character though. For some reason, I thought she was a bit bland? And as a child, in the past timeline, she was a brat. Let’s be real.
Ramsey, Melanie’s father. Well, he’s crazy. That’s really all there is to say I believe, without spoiling anything. Completely nuts. But very interesting! I have to admit that at some points in the past timeline, I was a bit confused as to the sequence of events. But overall, his perspective was intriguing. Really all there needs to be said is that his orbital axis theory is cuckoo.
There were many other characters involved such as Philip, Melanie’s boyfriend, who I didn’t really care for that much. I just didn’t feel any connection to him because he barely came into view. Arthur, the journalist -love him. David, despicable person really.
I did quite like this mystery novel, even though I wouldn’t call it a thriller myself. The plot was captivating, and I didn’t guess the ending either. It was definitely a surprising story, and I enjoyed reading it. If you like mysteries and murder stories, I’d definitely consider picking this up!