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.