Lucie Whitehouse: Before We Met (2014)

Before We Met

Lucie Whitehouse’s latest novel Before We Met, was a quick, fast-paced read. The book falls under the sub category of “domestic noir”. I didn’t even know that a sub-genre like that exists before I read Marina Sofia’s take on the term “chick noir”. I’m not sure I’m happy about these labels either. The only thing “domestic noir” tells us basically, is that it’s a married woman who gets in trouble. Before We Met was compared to Gone Girl, but since I haven’t read it that wasn’t something that made me pick it up. But when I saw Lucie Whitehouse compared to Nicci French in Guy’s review, I knew I had to read it as I’m a huge Nicci French fan. There are similarities, although, funny enough, the husband/wife duo Nicci French rarely write about married women. Their protagonists are mostly single women. The similarity is in the writing, and the pacing. Lucie Whitehouse and Nicci French both know how to write an engaging, well-plotted story that moves forward at a steady pace.

Hannah is a Brit who works in New York, where mutual friends introduce her to Mark who is British as well. Their relationship and the speed with which it develops catches them both unawares. Hannah didn’t really think she was the marrying kind, but handsome, attentive Mark wins her over and within a couple of months they are married. Mark is the owner of a successful British company, located in London. Hannah has a succesful career in New York. After they get married, she decides to relocate and follows Mark to London.  At the beginning of the novel they have been married for eight months. They live in a beautiful, huge house and are very happy together. Hannah is a little worried because she ‘s still not found a job but other than that everything is great. Until the day Mark doesn’t come home from a business trip.

That he doesn’t come home and tells her on the phone he’s lost his cell phone, is annoying, but it doesn’t alarm Hannah. What alarms her though is to find out that Mark has emptied her bank account and that a mysterious woman calls at his office.

I can’t write much more as the less you know, the more you will like this novel. It has quite a few unexpected twists and turns. For every explanation Hannah finds there’s a new unanswered question and in the end she doesn’t know whether she’s being protected or whether she is in danger.

As I said at the beginning, this was a quick read. It’s suspenseful and the writing is very smooth, very readable. My only negative comment would be that I found some of Hannah’s’ decisions not clever, but people react in strange ways under stress.

30 thoughts on “Lucie Whitehouse: Before We Met (2014)

  1. I know you were feeling so so about this one during the reading–so you liked it in the end it sounds like? It is waiting for me at the library now, so I am glad to hear it is a good escapist sort of read–really just what I need at the moment. I read her book The Bed I Made a few years back and liked it well enough–have The House at Midnight on Hand, too. In the end I have picked up an Elizabeth Haynes book–I think you might have read it (the one set on a houseboat in Kent)?

    • It was far better in the ned. I was being unfair because some of the reactions of Hannah annoyed me.
      I’ve read The House at Midnight when it came out. I think I liked it but I can’t remember. I’ve read another one by Elizabeth hayes but I know I’ll end up reading all of her books. I really liked the one I read.

      • Have you read Dark Tide? I am finding it really engrossing–though it is about the seedier side of London life as the main character is a pole dancer in a strip club–though for all that I like her. I am not sure I can trust her narration, though, she’s hiding something–but I like books like that where you are always a little off balance and wondering what is true or not. Glad to hear the Whitehouse turned out better than you thought–I have it out from the library but haven’t started it yet–I seem to be reading about ten books at once and don’t have enough time to devote to any of them! I will be late (again) with the Shaara–it is taking me a while to get into the story, but I do like it.

        • I haven only read Into the Darkest Corner so far and that was great.
          Whitehouse has an engaging style but you will have to be accepting of some silly choices the main protagonist makes.
          I was so surprised about how much I like The Killer Angels. It’s not really that action driven. It focusses a lot on thoughts and emotions.

  2. I also had never heard of Domestic Noir. Both your commentary as well as Guy’s make this sound good.

    I find that second guessing the actions of characters to be fruitless. As you mention people do odd things. When I think about some of the things that folks do in real life, I sometimes say that if it were fiction, then no one would believe it.

    • To be honest, I find it better to create a new label than to compare each and every book to Gone Girl. It tells you something in a nutshell. But normally I’m not too keen on labels. “Chick noir” is awful though.
      While reading it, I forgot that she’s only been married a very short time and that would alter perceptions a lot. And fear makes people react in weird ways. Even more so in real life.

  3. Beautiful, spoiler-free review, Caroline 🙂 This book looks fast-paced and gripping with lots of twists and turns. I love the fact that as soon as Hannah finds an explanation, a new unanswered question crops up. I think I will love this book. I will keep an eye for it. Love that cover!

    • Funny you should mention the cover. I thought it was great. 🙂 A shattered rose.
      It was so dofficult not to include spoilers. I’m glad I’ve managed.
      I hope you’ll enjoy it, should you read it.

  4. I’m not a huge fan of genres and sub-genres since some seem to go overboard. As for the book, sounds like a decent read or a rainy day, which we’ve had plenty of so far this year.

  5. Domestic noir sounds like a terrible (and arguably sexist, would it be applied to a husband?) label, which is a shame as it sounds a good book. I remember Guy’s review I think, and I may well look out for this one. it sounds interesting, and I note that doubts you had part-way were resolved by the end which is interesting.

    • I’m not sure I’ve read a book that would fall under the “domestic noir” category in which the man was jeopardised.
      A few things the main charcate does were far from clever but in the end understandable in the case of a newly married anxious woman.

  6. I read Lucie Whitehouse’s previous novel and thought it was okay. I think of these sorts of books as women-in-peril reads, designed to play on female vulnerability in all its forms, love being the most obvious one to lead them into trouble. I think they are often characterised by poor decision-making on the part of the female characters, as that’s what keeps the plot going. So sometimes they annoy me because women always choose the route of maximum peril, which people rarely do unless they have emotional problems. Which leads me in a circular route back to that women-are-hysterical stereotype that I have some trouble with. All this being said, when they are done well, then they have all the pleasures of a taut thriller.

    • That was the problem I had with this novel. I know I wouldn’t have reacted the way she has but I think it was still mostly realistic – but as you say – it basically kept the plot going. If she’d reacted in a non-hysterical way, the book would have had 70 pages less. 🙂 It was still entertaining.

  7. Have not heard those labels at all and don’t really like them either. This sounds like an enjoyable read, Caroline. Gone Girl was a real page turner, but not brilliant. I’m curious as to how they’ll film it.

  8. Pingback: Harriet Lane: Her (2014) | Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

  9. Pingback: Lucie Whitehouse: Keep You Close (2016) | Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

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