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All booksThrillerBefore She Knew Him
Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Before She Knew Him

by Peter Swanson

Quick take

The suburban neighbor's guide to dealing with the sociopath next door.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Psychological


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Scary


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MarriageIssues

    Marriage issues

Why I love it

Riley Sager
Author, Survive the Night

Now that I’ve read Before She Knew Him, all I want to do is talk about it. Only I can’t. Not because there isn’t anything to say (there’s plenty.) And not because the book is bad (it’s so good.) I can’t talk about it because I don’t want to risk giving away a single one of its many surprises.

Here’s what I can tell you: When Hen—short for Henrietta—and her husband, Lloyd, move into a new house, they quickly meet Matthew and Mira, the only other childless couple in the neighborhood. While having dinner at the neighbors’ house, Hen lays eyes on a peculiar object that ties Matthew to an unsolved murder from years before. Is Hen’s neighbor a killer? Or is her bipolar disorder, something she’s struggled with in the past, returning to mess with her fragile mind once more?

Sounds like a book with an ending you can see coming after turning the first page. It’s not. At all. Before She Knew Him is deeper, darker, and more twisted than it seems. Once you read it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. And why I absolutely can’t tell you any more right now.

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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.

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. . .

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Get an early look from the first pages of Before She Knew Him.

Member thoughts

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All (14577)
Love (7329)
Like (6632)
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14810 ratings
  • 49% Love
  • 45% Like
  • 4% Dislike
  • Hutchinson, MN

    I personally love mystery/thriller/intense books. I usually don’t like when books jump from character to character, but it only made me more “in the know” with what was going on. Page turner for sure!

  • Chicago , IL

    Definitely a page turner. Psychological thriller with many twists and turns. I enjoyed Peter Swanson’s “The Kind Worth Killing” so I was looking forward to reading this book. It did not disappoint!

  • Grovetown, GA

    What a wild ride! This was a refreshing change from “whodunnit” to “when will he be caught?” Are all of Swanson’s books this good?! I’m disappointed that I let this sit on my shelf for so long.

  • Sacramento, CA

    When I started this book I thought I already knew everything; Mathew is the killer,okay What now? Well I was pleasantly surprised, lots of twists I didn’t see coming! 5 stars from me I’d recommend it!

  • Mill creek, WA

    At first I wasn’t sure how this was going to end but it was such a great book! There was a moment when I was reading and was like “Oh My Gosh” I had a hard time putting this book down! It was great!

  • Newark, NJ

    I’m not one to review a the fact that I am says a lot. I was hooked from the beginning of the story and didn’t want to put it down. The twists were not forced and I highly recommend!

  • Bastrop , TX

    Peter Swanson is an amazing author—I have read all of his novels. He brings to light philosphical questions that make you look at murder in an interesting way. He makes you understand the flawed hero.

  • Rochester, NH

    this book is great& really gets you thinking of what’s coming up& my bestfriend went to lesley university in cambridge and lived on winter hill in somerville just like hen & lloyd.... crazy right ???

  • Wood-Ridge, NJ

    Each time I thought I figured it out, another twist was thrown in. Perfect execution of multiple POV’s. At first I was annoyed he gave the killer away so early, but there was so much more to discover.

  • South Milwaukee , WI

    I don’t know if I have discovered an author I love, or a genre I love, but regardless, I couldn’t get enough of this book! I devoured this book in only a few sittings and read it every chance I got!

  • McKinney, TX

    As I turned the last page I literally said out loud “what just happened?!”. Silly me, I thought I had it all figured out. But there was no way I could have ever come up with a conclusion so twisty!

  • Clermont, FL

    Oh. My. Goodness. I was not expecting this one! Once the twist was revealed, I found myself going back to reread details. Wonderfully written, you’ll find yourself engulfed, questioning the next move

  • Temperance, MI

    This book was a little slow at first, but as I started getting into the story more I couldn’t put it down. It goes between two perspectives, but it was never confusing for me. That twist at the end!!

  • Hobe sound, FL

    As soon as I got this book in my hands I couldn't put it down I literally almost missed picking up my son from school because I got so deep into this book. It's definitely a book you dont want to miss

  • Bentonville , AR

    I thought it would be predictable but I was wrong!! Every time I thought I had the plot figured out but I was surprised. If you’re looking for something to keep you guessing, this is a great choice!

  • Bethesda, MD

    I finished this book in just over a day. A complete page turner with a story that took unexpected twists revealed so masterfully I couldn’t put it down. Would recommend to any mystery/thriller fans.

  • Spring Hill , FL

    What a fun twist. Maybe I should have seen it coming, but sometimes it’s more fun not to guess and let the story unfold organically. Hen is an amazing character, rational for all her supposed crazy.

  • Shady Side, MD

    There were a lot plot twists up until the very last page that kept me page turning and guessing what was going on the whole time. The mental health problems were very accurate and interesting to read.

  • Montgomery, AL

    I connected with this book through my love of thriller novels. I ended up falling in love with it because it was not only amazing on every level, but I'm diagnosed with bipolar disorder just like Hen.

  • Oxford, PA

    My first words after finishing this book were "Holy $#!+" This book was interesting, creepy and just crazy. The twist at the very end was crazy! As someone who is not into mystery novels I loved this

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