imagesThe Girl Before by JP Delaney is one of the most talked about psychological thrillers of the year, first published in the USA in 2017 by Ballantine Books. The book is written from the point of view of two women, Jane and Emma, who need a fresh start and chance upon the best rental opportunity ever. The book is being adapted into a movie by the Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard for the Universal Studios.

Both women, during different time frames live at One Folgate Street, a high-tech, ultra-minimalist house designed by Edward Monkford, a well established architect who is a bit of a control freak. In exchange for the affordable rent, the architect requires you to follow about a hundred rules. Jane, in the present begins her life in the new house and starts a relationship with Edward. She learns about the tragic death of another woman, Emma, who used to live in the same house. Some believe that Emma was murdered while others believe that she committed suicide. Jane sets out to find out what kind of a person Emma was and how she died. She meets Emma’s ex-boyfriend, Simon Wakefield, who believes she was murdered by Edward Monkford. She refuses to believe this and digs deeper to find out that Emma was not everything people believed her to be. She finds a number of people who may be connected to Emma’s death. Each person she meets has a different version of the story to tell.  As she struggles with her own past, One Folgate Street’s past threatens to consume her. She realizes that after moving into One Folgate Street, she has started living the exact same life that Emma once did. The real question is whether the house she considered a safe haven is actually safe or if she will meet the same fate as the girl before.

JP Delaney is pseudonym for an author who has previously written best-selling fictions under other names. He has done an excellent job writing from the perspective of two contrasting yet similar female protagonists. All the characters are very well defined and each one has his or her own story to tell.

One of the most interesting things about the book is that apart from the two female protagonists mentioned, the house, One Folgate Street, also plays a prominent role. The large empty spaces, the blank white walls, the dozen security measures and all those rules make you wonder what kind of a person could live in such a house. Such a place could either make you or break you. The book thus portrays how the place you live in plays a major role in what you become.

            As you flip through the pages, the book asks you questions which make you think about your own values and beliefs. It gives you scenarios and asks you to choose between one thing and another and not one of them is an easy choice to make. The book revolves around the truth and the lies told by the characters which keeps you guessing throughout.

The Girl Before is an absolutely brilliant piece of work with its interesting characters and mysterious plot. It is similar to Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train and is a must read for anyone who loves suspense and thrillers.  The book is unpredictable with the continuous twists and turns in the story and has you hooked until the very last words. This book is exactly what we readers call an ‘unputdownable book’ and is most definitely one of my top recommendations to all readers.

Anjali Binesh