BOOK REVIEW - THE GIRL BEFORE, J.P. DELANEY

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Book Title: 
The Girl Before
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9781786480279
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Book Synopsis

The title alone tells us that someone has died. We know that the girl who came before is going to exert an influence on the present-day protagonist; someone’s footsteps are going to be walked in once again.   So how did the girl before come to her end?

Present day Jane is looking for a new start.  Beginning to despair of ever finding somewhere affordable to live, Jane is more than willing to look over the incredibly picky rental agreement and answer its seemingly irrelevant and very personal questions.  The idea of having less to look after is appealing, and Number 1 Folgate Street is one spectacular minimalist living space.  Having met the dangerously appealing owner Edward Monkford as part of her interview process, Jane is more than convinced of his architectural talent.  And of his personal appeal. 

The cleverly designed home is governed by electronics. Everything from the shower to the lights are controlled by a home operation system that progressively adds to its knowledge banks about the occupant’s behaviour and patterns over time.  Jane becomes aware that she is not the first to live in the house.  Emma who came before in fact died whilst living in the house.  Odd that this fact was never mentioned to Jane before she moved in.

Book Review

The setting of THE GIRL BEFORE is all important and gives structure to a story that is essentially carried out with in four walls of one very spectacular and unusual house.  There are shades of ‘Hal’ in this book too which are delicious, as in that an omnipresent technological mind is controlling the conditions thus manipulating the lives of the occupants of the house. Or is it really?

Poor self esteem, the classic pull of the bad boy and just seriously bad taste all come together to push the sanity of both past Emma, and present Jane.   Is it an insult for an untidy person to occupy such a carefully crafted space or is the best creational work still in progress, as in the moulding of the occupant to the new home?

Author J.P. Delaney (a pseudonym) has written here a curiously oppressive work about two women who have occupied the same space in different periods of time.   Both characters you literally wish to grab by the shoulders and deliver a good dressing down to, but both were chosen for their vulnerabilities and not their strengths. In this time where wanting less is a real angst of the privileged, the minimalistic setting of this book delivers its own clever and simmering threat of restraint, purposeful conduct and menace.

As in all best works of suspense, no one is quite who they seem and THE GIRL BEFORE deep dives into secret desires of three very modern people with frank aplomb.  The ending does make you question just why you came to the conclusions that you did – maybe you overthought that one?

A very clever and absorbing book, THE GIRL BEFORE is a psychological thriller that delivers.   Read the book now, as hopefully the big screen adaptation won’t be too far away.

All Reviews of Books by this Author

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