Book Review: Before She Knew Him

03.05.2019 | William Morrow
Rating: 4/5 stars


Hen and her husband Lloyd have recently bought a new home in a quiet suburban town on the outskirts of Boston. Hen is an illustrator with a rocky past, which she and Lloyd are working through. With the help of her new studio and the correct medicine for her bipolar disorder, Hen feels refreshed and ready to start anew.

That sense of calm is disrupted after having dinner with their next door neighbors, Matthew and Mira. On a tour of their neighbor’s home, Hen spots a trophy that causes her flashbacks. She is confident that this trophy belongs to a murdered young man. A man whose case she became obsessed with and subsequently was hospitalized because of the extremes she went to. Hen becomes convinced that Matthew is a killer, but no one will believe her. As Hen starts to follow Matthew and learn more about him, she becomes more confident that her feelings are correct. Matthew knows she’s watching him. Is Hen safe?


BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM is the second book I’ve read by Peter Swanson this year and it has solidified him as a must read author for me. I absolutely loved ALL THE BEAUTIFUL LIES when I read it back in February and BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM was another successful read for me! Both books I have chosen to listen to in audiobook format and while different narrators were used for each, I found them all to be fantastic! I really love finding narrators that make the books more enjoyable and then looking up what other books they have done to add to my TBR.

Swanson breaks down the story in BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM between alternating POVs, which if you’ve ever read any of my reviews, you know I’m a huge fan of. We are treated to experiencing the story predominantly through Hen and Matthew, but there are some other narrators thrown into the mix to change things up, such as Matthew’s wife, Mira. With the majority of the story coming from Hen and Matthew, Swanson sets the vibe of the book as a cat and mouse game.


I wouldn’t classify BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM as a thriller. For me it fell more into the slow-burn suspense category, but one that was able to hold my attention throughout. Simply because I wouldn’t label it a thriller or overly fast-paced, does not mean that it doesn’t contain a handful of twists to keep the momentum going! Now on my second Swanson book, I’ve found that he enjoys being subtle with his twists and dropping them in a fitting, but unexpected spot of the story. I’m always left feeling surprised when I look back on the book at all of the hints I missed!

There is definitely an element of darkness to this book that may not work for everyone. Several events from different character’s past may be a bit tough to stomach, but that being said I don’t think that they detract from the greatness of the story. It’s not a situation where the backstory is used for shock-value. It has a meaning and a connection to the present day situation.

BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM is another solid book from Peter Swanson and deserves a spot on your TBR! This book would make for a great beach read as the summer months get closer!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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