The Girl Before by J P Delaney

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The Girl Before by J P Delaney

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sophie Diamond
Reviewed by Sophie Diamond
Summary: Addictive, compelling - an absolute belter of a thriller.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: January 2017
Publisher: Quercus
ISBN: 9781786480293

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Jane is recovering from recent trauma and needs to change her life, starting with where she lives. After seeing the dives she can afford in central London on her salary, One Folgate Street seems like a dream come true. Ultra modern, smart technology living - a small haven in a big city... however, it comes with some very tight restrictions, rules that must be obeyed. Jane is ready for a big change in her life, so she accepts the conditions of the house and moves in. However, the longer Jane lives there, the more interested she becomes in the previous tenant, a woman named Emma who died there, Emma who’s life Jane’s is starting to mimic. Suddenly, this haven doesn’t feel so safe.

I LOVED this book. Loved, loved, loved it. I couldn’t put it down. It’s tense, it’s clever, well told, well characterised and just immensely readable. Ok, yes I guessed what was going on, but only quite close to the end, but that didn’t spoil any of the enjoyment. The book is a cat and mouse story but you will need to keep asking yourself who is the cat.

While the concept of renting a house with two hundred rules may seem far-fetched, it actually blends in very well to the story. You forget there’s a world outside the house, you could be anywhere at all as the protagonists are drawn deeper and deeper into its cocoon. The narrative flits between Emma then and Jane now, and this is done seamlessly. Flipping between perspectives can be clumsy and make a story feel stilted but Delaney does it with ease. You never lose the thread of what’s going on and everything they divulge moves the story forwards. As Jane delves into Emma’s mysterious death, finding out everything she can about her, so do you as the reader. Everything unfolds at a pitch perfect pace, nothing is dragged out or rushed.

There aren’t a lot of characters in this story, so the main characters are in even sharper focus. The architect of the house (and the rules) is a very interesting character, a handsome, extreme perfectionist, obsessed with attention to detail. He’s probably the most archetypal character in the story, but you will be trying to work out his motives right up until the end. And of course, arguably, the main, main character is the house itself. The house is amazing: it’s advanced, beautiful and exquisitely described by Delaney but it’s also a harsh environment. You have to mould yourself to suit the house, not the house to suit you and this concept really struck me. The more I thought about it, the more I realised it was like what a habitat is to an animal, forcing the animal to adapt or die. This comparison between something so advanced and modern and something so basic and natural was incredibly interesting.

The Girl Before twists and turns throughout the plot, because in this amazing open plan house something dark can still be lurking behind you. This book is a master of its genre and it’s utterly devourable. I cannot wait for Delaney’s next book.

Huge thanks to the Bookbag, the publisher and Delaney for my review copy.

If you liked this, then you will also enjoy Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall

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Buy The Girl Before by J P Delaney at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Girl Before by J P Delaney at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Girl Before by J P Delaney at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Girl Before by J P Delaney at


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