The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
Publication Date: January 2017
My Rating: ✹✹✹✹
“Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.
The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.”
“There was a mountain of grief to be climbed, and no amount of talk would help me up it.”
This novel left me with very mixed thoughts and emotions, but I did enjoy it. I picked it up in Tesco because I fancied a thriller and it was a fiver. I didn’t really expect much from it to be honest.
I started it, and didn’t put it down until I finished it. I just needed to know what happened.
One Folgate Street in London, is a high-tech minimalist house with an abundance of cool amenities and features that would lead you to believe that the rent would be sky-high. But in fact the rent is very reasonable. Anyone would be lucky to live there, as long as they live by the rules!
There are over 200 rules that tenants are required to abide by in order to live at One Folgate Street. But before you live there, you have to complete, and pass, the rental application. It is extremely long and includes many bizarre, and sometimes impossible, questions.
The owner, Edward Monkford, is also the architect who built the house. He lives a minimalist lifestyle, with a need for control.. over everything!
The narrative switches between Emma (from the past), and Jane (in the present). Both women are troubled and battling with their own demons, which leads them both to apply to live in the house. It was easy to differentiate between the two, as Emma’s chapters are told without any quotation marks in the dialogue. This does take some time to get used to, and I am still curious as to why the author chose to do this. The house itself almost takes on a life of its own and becomes a central character in the story.
The story wasn’t set out in chronological order, which provided room for it to slowly unfurl. It reaches deeply into the bizarre, often toxic minds of the characters. Overall, it is a good psychological thriller that keeps you reading without ever losing interest. If you are looking for something suspenseful, shocking and totally unique, then this book is for you.
J.P. Delaney, whoever you are, bravo.
About The Author:
J. P. Delaney is the pseudonym of a writer who has previously published best-selling fiction under another name.