The Girl Before You

downloadAuthor : Nicola Raynor

Pub . Date : 22 Aug , 2019

Publisher : HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Plot summary :

Alice catches a glimpse of a red-haired girl on a train who has a startling resemblance to one of the exes of her politician-turned-TV-presenter husband George Bell . This ex – Ruth Walker , had disappeared following the University’s memorial ball . It was widely believed at that time that she could have drowned as her dressed had been found washed up on the South Beach .

But , the recent sightings of the red-haired girl and the surfacing of some college memories makes Alice doubt if George knows more about what happened to Ruth Walker all those years ago .

My thoughts about the book

The book title is very similar to the debut of J P Delaney . The narrative straddles two timelines , past and present and the stories of three people :  Alice – George’s wife , Naomi – Ruth’s sister and Kat – Ruth’s frenemy from the college days . Rayner’s writing was engaging despite covering the regular subjects of a mystery-from-the-college-days type story-line – flashbacks into the college lives of the central characters .

The college days run into too great detail in the trio’s flashbacks and it almost always covers the following territories – shagging , pub visits & more shagging . I distinctly remember that they were only two places in the entire book where the author touched upon Kat’s visit to the library and Kat taking up her exams . Of course , academic stuff would not have even minimal engagement quotient with the readers but Rayner’s writing made it look like there’s more wine , parties & shagging than academics in universities . Whatever academic references are thrown in , I guess , they are there to make it seem like an ” all-rounded ” coverage of the life with the campus . Maybe , cutting off a chunk of the party-scenes and references to yet another shag episode between two people could have made this book a pacier read .

My only peeve  was that the editor should have pared out a good 70 pages worth of content to actually pack a stronger punch with the really good ending .  The reader has to navigate the torrent of this distracting stuff to get to the ‘ THE ENDING WHICH WILL LEAVE YOU GASPING ‘ – so the Observer critic says . Yes , the ending was really very good and you would have never guessed it . But , probably , navigating a torrent of distracting stuff did it for me – I did not get shocked / gasp but I am quite satisfied with how the pieces of the puzzle finally fell in place .

There was one particular instance where the credibility quotient takes a serious dip ( atleast for me ) –  Can anyone imagine two heavily pregnant women wandering the streets of a small University town , ” looking ” for a woman , they are not sure if she actually exists ? Even , if they are convinced there is such a lady , is there not a possibility that she might have relocated / died ? Why would they not leave the hunt to the police ?  Maybe it’s only my imagination that refuses to stretch itself .

Despite a not-so-great editing , some instances which require the reader to stretch their imaginations ( strictly my take ) , it is still a great suspense read with a riveting plot-line and a great finishing , if you choose to overlook the above mentioned points .  Maybe , sometimes , you should leave too-much-lookout-for-logic by the wayside ,  to enjoy a book .

Rating : 3 . 5 / 5

My thanks to the publisher for the e – ARC in exchange for an honest review . You can checkout the review for J P Delaney’s debut here . Until the next review then .

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