Before We Met,
by Lucie Whitehouse (Bloomsbury, RRP $35):
With the short but not-so- sweet blurb on the back of this book telling us that Hannah Reilly had a perfectly happy life until the day her husband failed to come home, it comes as absolutely no surprise that her husband fails to come home in the very first chapter.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the end of the “no surprises” elements of this book.
It actually starts out as an enticingly uncomfortable tale, as the reader is dragged along for the ride while Hannah waits – at first patiently then as time goes by rather more impatiently – for her hubby to return to London after a business trip to the United States. She drives to the airport to meet him but he never arrives and, given the back-cover blurb, I was expecting that to be the start of some sort of action-packed thriller, but the author manages to inject a wee twist, perfect hubby Mark eventually phoning Hannah to offer what at first appears to be a reasonable explanation for not being on the flight home.
But then cracks begin to appear in his story and Hannah is suspicious: she makes some calls, does a spot of amateur detective work and starts to wonder just how much she really knows about the man she married.
It was at this point in the story I was hooked, but the disappointments came thick and fast once a few explanations were offered about Mark’s strange behaviour.
Yes, Mark and Hannah had some sort of whirlwind romance, but for someone to be so oblivious about the family circumstances of their spouse just doesn’t ring true.
And by the time we are let in on the big family secret the far-too-perfect Mark has been hiding half- way through the book, it becomes all too easy to predict how the rest of the story will pan out.