Jane Cavendish is looking for a fresh start. She is recovering from the loss of a child and thinks that a fresh start is just what she needs. One Fulgate Street in London is a home with a history. It's owner is the world renowned architect, Edward Monkford, and he has a set of rules and requirements for anybody who inhabits his homes. There is an extensive application process that starts with the demand "Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life." Jane passes the rigorous application process and now must adhere to rules such as "no books" and "no clutter". The house is fully automated right down to a survey she has to regularly take so the "house" can gauge her progress towards being a better person. The house will even withhold services like water in the shower until she completes the survey.
One day she notices a man leaving flowers at her door and Jane discovers that a former tenant died tragically. Emma moved to One Fulgate Street after the flat she shared with her boyfriend, Simon, was broken into. Jane becomes invested in Emma and her story while becoming intimately involved with Edward Monkord. Once she becomes acutely aware of his control issues she realizes that there might be more to Emma's death than she first believed. Will Jane be able to get to the truth before she becomes the next victim to the One Fulgate Street house?
The Girl Before is one of the most unique books that I have read recently. At the heart of the story is a bit of a love triangle, that isn't new, but One Fulgate Street is a setting for a new millennium. Home automation is becoming more and more popular, but Edward Monkford takes it to a scary extreme. The fact that he can control the water in the shower for an off-site location should be utterly terrifying to anybody with a landlord. The list of rules he assigns every tenant is so over-the-top that I can't imagine anybody being willing to agree to the rigidity. In the case of Jane and Emma, I think they agreed because other areas of their lives were out of control and they craved that rigidity to bring order to the world. The story is told in alternating voices - Then: Emma and Now: Jane. The further you get into the book you realize that there are some seriously unbalanced characters in this story. There is a bit of a revelation at the end that through me for a loop, but it didn't shock me that much. --CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS -
Bottom line - The Girl Before is a cleverly written suspense novel. The fact that women willingly submit to such a controlling environment is quite fascinating and the exciting mystery is secondary, in my opinion. If you are looking for a unique thriller - The Girl Before is for you.
- The Girl Before by JP Delaney (a pseudonym for Tony Strong)
- On Goodreads
- Pages: 352
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press
- Publication Date: 1/24/2017
- Buy it Here!