The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney
The Girl Before is a woman-in-jeopardy novel with a clever, if unlikely, premise. The woman in question is a tenant in an award-winning house designed by an obsessively minimalist landlord. With its unyielding geometry, the house is both the perfect location for a claustrophobic thriller and a handy metaphor for patriarchy.
The reader soon suspects that the landlord's intentions are focused on more than just architectural eminence when it transpires that his wife is buried in the grounds, that the previous tenant (the eponymous girl before) was murdered, and that the three women bear a noticeable resemblance to each other. After a certain point, however, it becomes less and less clear who exactly is doing the manipulating
This is not just an exercise in high-level plot mechanics. The author has a fine eye for detail and his prose is as carefully controlled as the world he evokes But, all that precision observation and all that twisting and turning still did not compensate me for the unpleasant sex scenes and the underlying bleakness of the vision. If clever and creepy is your thing, you'll probably enjoy this; but it's not my cup of tea.