Review: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

Title: The Girl Before by JP Delaney
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


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.


With an unusual but clever storyline, The Girl Before by JP Delaney is a suspense-laden psychological mystery.

Renowned architect Edward Monkford is very picky about whom he allows to rent his house and none of his property managers have been able to figure out why some make the cut while others don’t. Two of his renters, Emma Matthews and Jane Cavendish, could not be more different but they share one thing in common: both are willing to put up with an extensive list of rules to live in his ultramodern “smart” house. Both experienced rather traumatic events before moving into the property and while Jane has no problem with the strict rules, Emma struggles to adhere to even the simplest directive. Yet both women catch Edward’s eye and as Jane soon discovers, there is quite a bit of mystery surrounding Emma’s unfortunate death whilst living in the home.

Emma moves into the property with her boyfriend Simon after a terrifying incident in their former residence.Emma is a little flighty yet men are drawn to the outgoing, sparkling young woman. After moving into the new rental property, Emma is somewhat transformed by the minimalist space and she begins to understand herself better. Ending her relationship with Simon is the first step in changing the direction of her life and she quickly becomes involved with Edward.  But as she is discovering new and unexpected about herself, Emma’s past is about to collide with her present and she is soon on a collision course with disaster.

Jane is much more organized and focused than the much younger Emma.  However, after a heartbreaking loss, she unexpectedly finds herself starting over in a new career while trying to recover from the tragedy.  Jane has no problem complying with the various restrictions that Edward demands of his tenants and she thrives in her new environment.  She is quite  intrigued by her landlord and she is surprisingly open to exploring their unexpected attraction.

The Girl Before is written in an unusual format with both women narrating their time living in Edward’s house.  Jane’s part of the storyline is in the present while Emma’s is dubbed “before”.  Their experiences as Edward’s lover are eerily similar but while Emma embraces all aspects of their relationship, Jane has no trouble telling him what she likes and does not like. 

Since Jane is trying to get to the bottom of what happened to Emma, she reaches out to some of the people from Emma’s life, including her ex-boyfriend, Simon.  Can Jane trust Simon’s version of events?  How will Edward react to her efforts to uncover the truth?  Will Jane emerge unscathed as she continues to try to understand what happened to Emma?

The Girl Before is a riveting mystery with a shocking array of unexpected twists and turns. The tension builds to a fever pitch as both Emma and Jane become more deeply involved with their über controlling landlord. JP Delaney brings the novel to an absolutely stunning conclusion as Jane discovers the truth about what happened Emma.  All in all, a very imaginative novel that will completely capture readers’ attention  from beginning to end!

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1 Comment

Filed under Ballantine Books, Contemporary, JP Delaney, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Girl Before

One Response to Review: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

  1. Timitra

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kathy