Genre: Adult, Thriller, Mystery Publication.Date February 3rd 2015 Pages: 384 Published By: Mysterious Press Author Michael Kardos Before He Finds Her on Goodreads My review copy: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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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. Weaving in Ramsey’s story in the three days leading up to the brutal crime, Before He Finds Heris a stirring novel about love and faith and fear—and how the most important things can become terribly distorted when we cling to them too fiercely.
We slept while it rained those of us who could sleep. We counted mistakes like sheep, those of us, like me, and like D'amour, who couldn't sleep.
Maybe, long ago, we used to be good. Maybe all little girls are good in the beginning. There might even be pictures of us from those easy days, when we wore braids and colorful barrettes, and played in sandboxes and on swing sets, if we knew days so easy or wore such barrettes. There was a photo of me in a red-checked shirt and two braids at the neighborhood park. I had a raised shovel and had lost a tooth, but I smiled anyway. My mother used to have that photo in a frame. But something happened to us between then and now. Something threw sand in our eyes, ground it in, and we couldn't get it out. We still can't.
It took me a long time to finish this book. Not because it was bad or boring or particularly slow-moving. No, not at all. It took me so long (almost a week) because it was so dark, thick, kind of depressing and also kind of confusing (in that "what in the world is going on here?" kind of way). I had to take it in small doses, otherwise I would've gone nuts. The plot line was so mysterious, so murky and fuzzy and all kinds of messed up, I just couldn't wrap my mind around it. Don't get me wrong, I loved it. I love well devised plots filled with secrets and darkness and twists, but Nova Ren Suma's stuff can really mess with your head in ways that are both addictive and lethal. You just have to pace yourself.
The story is told from two different perspectives, alternating between two girls. First we have Amber, a girl convicted for killing her stepfather. Then there's also Vee, an aspiring ballet star with too much ambition and too little real talent. Both girls have stories to tell and through their stories we also get to know Orianna, known by the public as "Bloody Ballerina" accused of killing two girls, and we find out what happened to her.
This book is incredibly taunt and mysterious. There's murder, dead bodies, blood, correctional facilities, unreliable narrators, guilt, desperation, deadly ambition, betrayal, mental illness and a whole lot of top-shelf mind-fuckery. To say more about it, would be to spoil all the fun, so I'm zipping my mouth shut - read it and find out for yourself what's at the core of this beautiful mess.
This book is part psychological thriller, part magical realism, and for a very long time you really can't tell what's real, what's a lie, and what's a by-product of someone's sick and twisted imagination. That's actually big part of the fun here. If you can handle the pressure, that is.
The plot line is not the easiest one to follow, not by a long shot. Not only do we jump between the two girls and their version of the story, but we also meet them at different points in time (or so it seems?), and we have to figure it all out ourselves, because nothing is spelled out or even marked with a date. It's a big blur to begin with and if you don't pay (really close) attention, you'll find yourself confused and going back to re-read whole passages. It's a challenging and demanding read, but also one worth the sweat. Once you put the puzzles together and see the whole picture, you can't help but admire Nova Ren Suma's plotting skills.
The ending is beyond mind-blowing. It's ghostly and tragic and heartbreaking, but also hopeful and devilishly satisfying. Very Asian-horror-movie-like. Very atmosphering. Very powerful and affecting. I really savored the ending of this book, it's one of the best, most flawlessly executed endings ever.
If you're into books that are dark and eerie, twisted and convoluted, mysterious and disturbing well, this is just the perfect book for you. It's a murder mystery with a supernatural twist and lots of grittiness. It's a beautifully written, incredibly compelling story of lies, misplaced trust, cold-blooded betrayals, justice that really isn't just at all and lives wasted, lives lost... And the moral of this story? Karma's a b**ch.