Title: Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos
Publisher: Mysterious Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Everyone in the quiet Jersey Shore town of Silver Bay knows the story: on a Sunday evening in September 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a blowout block party, then murdered his beautiful wife and three-year-old daughter.
But everyone is wrong. The daughter got away. Now she is nearly eighteen and tired of living in secrecy. Under the name Melanie Denison, she has spent the last fifteen years in small-town West Virginia as part of the Witness Protection Program. She has never been allowed to travel, go to a school dance, or even have internet at home. Precautions must be taken at every turn, because Ramsey Miller was never caught and might still be looking for his daughter. Yet despite strict house rules, Melanie has entered into a relationship with a young teacher at the local high school and is now ten weeks pregnant. She doesn’t want her child to live in hiding as she has had to. Defying her guardians and taking matters into her own hands, Melanie returns to Silver Bay in hopes of doing what the authorities have failed to do: find her father before he finds her. Weaving in Ramsey’s story in the three days leading up to the brutal crime, Before He Finds Her is a stirring novel about love and faith and fear—and how the most important things can become terribly distorted when we cling to them too fiercely.
Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos is a somewhat poignant but very intriguing mystery. This engrossing whodunit is full of interesting and unexpected plot twists that are sure to delight fans of crime fiction.
For most of her life, Melanie Dennison has been living off the grid with her aunt and uncle in West Virginia. Mostly homeschooled, with very few friends and little social life, Melanie has been slowly spreading her wings since she started taking classes at the local community college. She also has a part time job and a secret boyfriend as well. Now pregnant and tired of living in fear of being found by her father, Ramsey Miller, Melanie returns to her home town of Silver Bay. Hoping to discover the whereabouts of her father, who disappeared after killing her mother, Allison, fifteen years earlier, Melanie’s amateur sleuthing leads to a surprising break in the case. But learning the truth about the events of that long ago night might not provide Melanie with all of the answers she is searching for.
Melanie is a gutsy young woman who finds herself completely out of her depth when she travels to Silver Bay. She is fairly fearless during her investigation and while she sometimes acts before she thinks, she does use a little common sense during risky situations. Melanie is incapable of subterfuge so it is fairly easy for her interviewees to see through her ploys to find answers for her questions. Most of the time, she is fairly clueless about what she doing but she perseveres despite her setbacks. But Melanie also knows when she needs help and she is willing to ask for it.
The days leading up to Allison’s death are revealed through flashbacks. These glimpses of the past are mostly from Ramsey’s perspective, and this provides readers with important background information about his dysfunctional childhood. His past is not sugarcoated and this helps readers see how much he changed after his marriage. Ramsey is a surprisingly sympathetic character and it is quite touching learning how much he loved Allison and his daughter and what shaped his decisions in the intervening days before the murder.
Before He Finds Her is an well-written novel with an interesting and unique storyline. Michael Kardos does an excellent job weaving past and present into a compelling and fast paced mystery. The final plot twist is quite shocking and completely unexpected. Although the characters are left with a few lingering questions, all of those loose ends are completely wrapped up for readers. All in all, Before He Finds Her is a satisfying read that mystery lovers will enjoy.