The Girl Before by JP Delaney
This is the story of Emma and Jane, two women who, years apart in time, need a change and a new place to live. Emma is recovering emotionally from a rape and Jane from a stillbirth. There appears to be one place on the rental market in their price range. One Folgate Street is an architectural wonder, concrete, glass, wired to trace a person’s every nuanced move, it seems too good to be true. But there are issues and not just anyone is allowed to rent this house. The owner wants photographs, letters and if approved for an interview, there is a long and personally intense questionnaire.
In their own time, both women are approved to live there. The house can be very unsettling or very comforting, depending on your state of mind, and in the case of both women, that state of mind is very sensitive. The owner maintains complete control of the house and the house responds electronically to any indiscretion. There are rules: no pets, children, throw pillows, rugs, dishes out of place, flowers, nothing intrudes on the starkness of the house. One can either feel very spooked here or very safe.
Emma meets an untimely death and her death is something Jane wants and needs to learn more about. Her inquiry and snooping around in the owner’s life makes for a strained relationship that puts Jane in her own danger zone.
As with the other books this is compared to, Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, the ‘girl’ books have almost become their own genre. Psycho-mystery? As with the other ‘girl’ books this one has twists and turns. While you are on one path and it makes sense, you also know in the back of your mind that if you are trying to figure out the twist you should have taken the other fork in the road. It has a twist, as they all do.