Review: THE NIGHT BEFORE by Wendy Walker
Also by this author: Emma in the Night
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 14, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
THE NIGHT BEFORE Review
Wendy Walker’s The Night Before is a riveting and unique thriller about a woman, Laura Lochner, who goes out on a date with someone she met on the internet and doesn’t return home. When Laura’s family realizes she is missing, they frantically begin searching for her. They of course wanted to make sure Laura hasn’t been harmed by this random stranger from the internet. Interestingly enough, however, they are also concerned for the safety of the random stranger and worried that Laura may have harmed him. The family’s unexpected thoughts about Laura and her potential for violence grabbed my attention right away and kept me turning the pages and what starts out as a seemingly straightforward missing person’s tale turns into a gripping exploration of how this family’s lives have been shaped by childhood trauma and long-buried family secrets.
One of the things I loved most about The Night Before is the way Walker uses multiple timelines and a dual point of view to gradually unfold the details of the story. We follow Laura’s sister, Rosie, in the aftermath of the internet date gone wrong, as she, her husband, and a close family friend try to retrace Laura’s steps. They’re trying to find her without involving the police if at all possible because of whatever has happened in Laura’s past to make her so volatile.
In addition to following Rosie, we also follow Laura the night before while she is on her date so that we are able to see what direction the date took and why she didn’t come home. To further flesh out the story and offer insight into Laura’s past and what has the family so concerned, we also get to sit in on some of Laura’s earlier sessions with her therapist. I thought this technique was very effective. It felt like watching the pieces of a puzzle start to fill in over time as the story alternated between the different timelines and povs.
I was also a big fan of the novel’s pacing. You can easily read it in a couple of sittings because it’s quite fast-paced. It starts out with the tense situation of Laura being missing and the tension only builds from there as everyone races to try to find her. The suspense also ratchets up the closer and closer we get to finding out what happened in Laura’s past that continues to haunt both her and her family. The story was filled with enough believable twists and turns to keep me guessing until the end.
The only reason I didn’t rate this 5 stars was because even though I was concerned for the well-being of Laura, I just didn’t feel as much of a connection to her as I would normally like to feel when it comes to main characters. I think it was because I was constantly torn between wondering if she was a victim or a perpetrator and therefore I didn’t entirely trust her account of events. In that sense, the book had almost a Gone Girl vibe.
Even with that lack of connection, however, I still think The Night Before is an exciting read that mystery/thriller fans are sure to love.
Riveting and compulsive, national bestselling author Wendy Walker’s The Night Before “takes you to deep, dark places few thrillers dare to go” as two sisters uncover long-buried secrets when an internet date spirals out of control.
Laura Lochner has never been lucky in love. She falls too hard and too fast, always choosing the wrong men. Devastated by the end of her last relationship, she fled her Wall Street job and New York City apartment for her sister’s home in the Connecticut suburb where they both grew up. Though still haunted by the tragedy that’s defined her entire life, Laura is determined to take one more chance on love with a man she’s met on an Internet dating site.
Rosie Ferro has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled sister. Fearless but fragile, Laura has always walked an emotional tightrope, and Rosie has always been there to catch her. Laura’s return, under mysterious circumstances, has cast a shadow over Rosie’s peaceful life with her husband and young son – a shadow that grows darker as Laura leaves the house for her blind date.
When Laura does not return home the following morning, Rosie fears the worst. She’s not responding to calls or texts, and she’s left no information about the man she planned to meet. As Rosie begins a desperate search to find her sister, she is not just worried about what this man might have done to Laura. She’s worried about what Laura may have done to him…
I love when mysteries/thrillers do a really good job of parceling out information, enough to keep you invested without giving too much away too soon.
Me too. It really makes it like putting together a puzzle and I love that.
This sounds twisty! I love when there is an extra dimension to your standard thriller.
Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy recently posted…Review & Giveaway: SNAKESKINS by Tim Major
It was definitely twisty!
Wow, so interesting that the family isn’t just concerned for Laura… they’re concerned for the stranger as well. Hmm. And they don’t want to involve the police. Already makes me curious about Laura and what in the world her background is. Great review, Suzanne!
Tanya @ Girl Plus Books recently posted…Short-Take Reviews: Unbroken (Jay Crownover) & Tangled (Emma Chase)
Yes, every time the family weighed in, I was just like ‘OMG what happened to this woman that they think all of these things?’
I really enjoyed Emma in the Night, and this one sounds good as well!
I loved Emma in the Night too and thought this one was even better.
This is the first time I’m hearing about The Night Before, but I love the sound of it, and your review convinced me to add it to my wishlist. I love that you compared it to Gone Girl in that you couldn’t trust the Laura’s account of events – I really enjoy unreliable narrators. Great review!
Veronika @ Wordy and Whimsical recently posted…Reading the Biggest Books of Last Year
If you read it, I hope you enjoy it!
Ooo when you said they were worried about the stranger you hooked me. Great review!
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Yeah, that was a pretty unexpected twist for me right out of the gate, lol.
Loved your review of this one, Suzanne. I can definitely understand how the unreliable narrator could keep you from connecting to the story a little. I’m glad you enjoyed it overall.
Yes, she definitely made the story interesting and twisty, but it seemed best to keep her at arm’s length and take everything she said with a grain of salt.