The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

Another girl title in the same genre as those who’ve come, well, “before”.  A story about an austere home with an aloof and mysterious owner whose tenants are required to adhere to strict guidelines of minimalism.  Jane has just moved in and learns that the girl who lived there before, Emma, died under mysterious circumstances. The chapters flip between Now: Jane and Then: Emma, telling each woman’s story.  The gist of the plot is about Jane trying to unravel what really happened to Emma.  Both women were/are involved romantically with Edward, the architect/owner of the infamous home at One Folgate Street.  Both women were/are dealing with personal issues.  Jane reaches out to Emma’s old boyfriend, Simon, as well as the detective who handled the case.  Someone is telling lies. Someone is being manipulated.  Who’s a victim and who’s not?

The story definitely holds interest and keeps a reader coming back though often times both women sound the same so there could have been a better “voice” distinction.  Similar things also happen to both women so that repetition, too, can be confusing.  The premise of the house and its requirements are interesting to contemplate as it plays a role in the decisions made by each woman.  The ending offers a mild twist in its resolution but not as dramatic like the books to which it’s compared – Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.  Overall the language is clean with a just a few obscenities and though both women are involved in some rough sexual episodes, they are brief and the language is not explicit.  A movie version is already in the works under the direction of Ron Howard.

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