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 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 fiercely.
Michael Kardos (michaelkardos.com) is the Pushcart Prize-winning author of the novels Bluff, Before He Finds Her, and The Three-Day Affair, named by Esquire as a Best Book of the year, and the story collection One Last Good Time, winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for fiction. He has a degree in music from Princeton University and played the drums professionally for a number of years before receiving his MFA from Ohio State and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. He currently lives in Starkville, Mississippi, where he co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State.
I was very excited to read this book after reading the description. Small town father and husband Ramsey Miller throws a neighborhood block party and then murders his wife and young daughter. However, the daughter got away and has been living in secrecy for the last 15 years. Under the name Melanie Denison she has lived a very secluded life with her aunt and uncle. Melanie though is tired of hiding. She decides to try and find her father before he finds her.
The story is well written and I found that it held my interest rather well. I did find myself having a hard time connecting to some of the characters. At times I found them a bit flat. Lots of detail was given to some characters and not enough given to other characters that in my opinion were important to the story. I was a bit annoyed by Melanie at times. One moment very naive and immature in her decision making and then extremely courageous. It just seemed to go from one extreme to the other.
However, all that being said I still thought it was a good book. It is a well-written novel with an interesting and unique storyline. I was able to easily follow along with the past and present storyline and there some good twists and surprises with an unexpected ending.
All in all a satisfying read that many readers will enjoy.
I received this book from 'Netgalley': THANK YOU very much. I always consider it a privilege. I'll write my honest thoughts. I LIKED IT!!
I'll always have a 'personal' association with "Before He Finds Her". While my 'house' is healing and my 'husband' is healing, this book was a very satisfying escape.
Just two weeks ago, my husband had a serious Mt. Biking accident --both his arms are in casts --two surgeries were required. Then, it that wasn't enough, our water heater exploded in our newly remodeled finished room in our basement during sleeping hours. We woke to find a 'flood' of water.
Between hospital visits and our hotel room where I sit now -- "Before He Finds Her", was THE BOOK which kept me company. I'm not a heavy-duty-mystery reader, but including a little in my diet seems to allow me to enjoy conversations with my friends who read many more than me. I'll 'chat' about this book with 'all' my friends. I recommend it! I liked the psychological exploration of the characters. I was 'curious' as hell with many questions about MEG. How does an almost 3 year old girl escape from her father when he killed her mother? How did she not go crazy living the first 17 years of her life with the many rules placed upon her? How does any child develop normally under secret protection? Can she ever have a normal socical life? There was not only uncertainty about 'how' she escaped but uncertainty of how she would live as an adult.
When I am in the mood for a good mystery with complex intelligent interactions and excellent writing, I will definitely read more books by Michael Kardos.
Ramsey Miller is a very interesting and flawed character. He had a less than ideal childhood and was often in trouble with the law. All that changed when he met a new friend, Eric, a man trying to stay off alcohol and a man who has a seep faith in the lord. It changed too when he met his wife and they had a child. Or did he change? As I wasreading this it seemed very possible that he had murdered his wife and daughter. He had a terrible temper that he tried hard to control and after meeting a fellow trucker, he really believed from the book the trucker gave him, that the planets were going to align for the first time. This would cause the end of the world. He had also been told something of a personal revelation, one that caused him both deep pain and anger.
A very solid story, with constant revelations that keep the story moving. Good characters that often surprise with their actions, and a wonderful newsman, now retired but still haunted by this story, one that never really had a resolution since the police has never managed to lay their hands on Ramsay. Where did he go? What actually happened that night? Read it and find out.
What an awful book! I read fast through half the book rapidly turning pages hoping something intriguing would appear. The prose is dull and devoid of any style. The characters are flat and one dimensional. The plot appeared mildly interesting but the writing is so dull and the characters so uninteresting that it became a huge effort to continue reading.
Despite its cheesy thriller-style cover and advance praise by Jeffery Deaver, Before He Finds Her is more psychological mystery than thriller. Think Everything I Never Told You, not Dark Places.
One night back in September 1991, trucker Ramsey Miller murdered his wife, Allie, and their three-year-old daughter, Meg, then disappeared. But in fact, the girl was taken to another state and, under the Witness Protection Program, given a new name (Melanie) and raised by her aunt and uncle to fear for her life lest her father reappear to finish her off for good.
Now, 15 years later, she’s tired of hiding and constantly looking over her shoulder. She returns to the town where the murder happened to get some answers and possibly confront her father.
Michael Kardos is a fine writer. He gets deep into the characters of Ramsey and Allie, as well as a charming octogenarian journalist who covered the case and is still obsessed with it. The structure mimics the one that Gillian Flynn used in Dark Places: present-day story juxtaposed with flashbacks to the days leading up to the murder to build suspense. It's not nearly as effective here.
The mystery contains lots of reverses and reveals. But some of the plot points are positively eye-rolling. And while Melanie is charming, especially when she’s pretending to be a student journalist to get information, she doesn’t have much of a personality.
This is an okay read for the cottage, maybe with a beer or two. Come to think of it, the alcohol might help you suspend your disbelief.
Yowza!! I could not put down this book. It was THAT good!
A woman is murdered and the father and daughter are missing. The story begins 15 years later when the daughter would be 18. It goes from the present to the past describing the father and his relationship with the mother. The story is opened by the journalist who covered the gruesome events and between him and the missing daughter, the mystery is solved. There were innumerable suspects and the author made you blame them all. I was totally in shock when I found out who it was.
The characters were portrayed well and the story was riveting. As I said, I could not put it down and read into the early hours, past my bedtime. I'm actually rating this 4 1/2 stars, but this site does not have that ability.
Thank you Grove Atlantic and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this e-galley!
Start reading the first page and kiss the next 24 hours goodbye.
Arthur Goodale has not made an entry on his blog for three weeks. From his Monmouth Regional Hosptail bed he writes a blog to his loyal 75 followers. He writes about living just one neighbourhood away from where the Millers once did. Arthur gives a brief summary, on Sunday afternoon and evening of September 22nd 1991, the Miller family hosted an outdoor block party. Later that night after the guest were gone, an inebriated Ramsey brutally murdered his wife Alison and a search began for Ramsey and their young daughter.
'Before I read' this book I had high hopes that this book was going to be amazing. Before I read this book, it had a few holds, but I was willing to wait cause I thought that it had potential. Before I read this book, I begged in my previous status that this book be good, otherwise I was going to be evil with my review..Now after reading this book, I am frustrated that I wasted my time to get my hands on this travesty.
Let's start with the poor writing style from the first page. The letter was not even original in the first page, in fact it was ridiculous foreshadowing that did not even make sense. If that suppose to lure me in, it did the complete opposite. Rather there was no reason to continue reading through the poor story, lack of characterization or anything worthy of recognition. Maybe it would have been better as it progressed but sadly I did not give it the time to impress me. I read way too many books to waste my time on books that do not grab me. Some books might take time, but this book writing style was too hard to endure.
"Read the first page and kiss the next twenty-four hours goodbye?" Oh please the first page was enough to get me to toss it aside.
I'm always on a lookout for good (literary if possible) stand alone domestic mystery thrillers. Kardos has exceeded every possible expectation I might have had when I picked up Before He Finds Her. A mystery that's actually mysterious, thriller that actually thrills and as well written as any quality work of literature, this book was genuinely awesome and pretty much impossible to put down. Good thing it was a quick read. Basic plot is a young woman raised almost her entire life in rural isolation imposed by a witness protection program, due to her father murdering her mother 15 years ago and disappearing. A life led in fear is no life and she decides to finds her father herself...yes, before he finds her. What really sets this book apart from so many other similar works is the incredible quality of writing and character development. Alternating timelines and narratives, Kardos does a phenomenal job of showing just how complex, multifaceted and mutable human nature and, by extent, human relationships really are and how blind one can be to what's really going on inside another person's heart and mind. That's what good books should aspire to do, really, to help us understand others and the world we live in. Kardos succeeds with flying colors. So very impressive. I'm very glad to have discovered this author. Highly recommended.
Generally enjoyable thriller from Kardos about a teenager living in hiding with her aunt and uncle from her father, who is widely believed to have killed her and her mother some fourteen years before. The story's strong point is in the flashbacks to the few days leading up to the mom's murder, which slowly gives the reader insight into the events as they really unfolded and what was going on in the minds of the adult protagonists. The problem with the book is that it doesn't offer any real surprises and ends up being somewhat clichéd, with an ending that is rather anti-climactic after everything that comes before. It passed the time pleasantly but I was hoping for, and expecting, more of a payoff based on the premise and buildup. Recommended if you don't set expectations too high.
This fast paced thriller takes you on a wild ride, filled with ups and downs, as the young protagonists searches for the father who murdered her mother 15 years ago. Just when I thought this story was becoming predictable, it would change course. Totally unexpected twists throughout kept me guessing, and its stunning ending really was a surprise!!
Award winning author Michael Kardos new crime thriller Before He Finds Her is one of the most compelling and moving crime thrillers of the year. There are plenty of twists and turns with plenty of innovation where the prose is clear and crisp a tale of redemption and a life time of fear. Once you start reading you will be addicted to the story and will put everything else on hold until you have finished.
September 1991 on a Sunday night Ramsey Miller and his wife throw a block party for all his neighbours in Silver Bay, New Jersey. Events that night would reverberate for many years after and to some would become the dark history that an old school journalist will never forget even on his death bed.
That Sunday night Ramsey Miller killed his wife Allie and his daughter Meg and disappeared from Silver Bay to become a fugitive whereabouts unknown. What nobody knows is that Meg did not die that night but was whisked away in to protective custody and cared for by her Uncle Wayne in the depths of West Virginia always looking over their shoulders.
Meg is now known as Melanie, for most of her life she has been homeschooled and as she is seventeen almost eighteen and starting to want to know more about her life before being in protection. She is following the blog of a journalist who is now retired who every year writes about the Silver Bay murders and the prime suspect Ramsey Miller. Melanie also now finds herself pregnant and afraid she wants to find out about her father so that he is not a threat to her or her unborn child. Melanie is sick of hiding and wants to live without being prepared to run and know the truth, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.
She takes herself to Silver Bay to discover the truth about her mother and father what she learns will shake her to the core. With many surprising twists and turns she discovers the life she once had and the people that once loved her before that fateful September evening. As she confronts the past can she really deliver a better future for her child?
This is a clever thriller with plenty of surprise spread across three parts and the views of Melanie, her mother and her father. We can see the parental relationship falling to pieces and we can see if from both points of view and it is this that Melanie will slowly become aware of. Michael Kardos leaves enough surprises in the book that you learn something new in every chapter and as the conclusion gets closer you able to say I did not see that coming with the various events.
This is an excellent and compelling thriller that you will enjoy from beginning to end, a pleasure to read and always hoping for the best for Melanie whatever happens. Will she ever find her father, will he ever come out of hiding, and you will have to read to find out.
Melanie Dennison has spent her whole life in hiding, brought up by her aunt and uncle, after her father murdered her mother and subsequently went on the run. Now 17 and pregnant, and not wanting this sort of life for her baby, Melanie decides to return to the home where she grew up, in order to get some answers and finally live a life free of hiding.
We also get the point of view of Melanie's father, in the days leading up to the murder. He threw a big party that night, and we come to learn he was treating it as an end-of-the-world party, having been convinced by another trucker that a conjunction of all the planets would lead to a catastophic event. But is everything as clear cut as it seems.
This was more a 2.5 for me, but it's too well written to give just two stars, and both Melanie and Ramsey were well-drawn characters, that I ultimately ended up wanting to find out what happened to them.
What counts against it is its relentless predictably. The outcome you imagine after just a couple of chapters is exactly what you think it will be. It's clear the author chose his protagonist to be a teenager, because that makes her naivete more believable. Anyone with a bit of life experience would have been able to figure out what was going on.
And there's far, far, far too much information about how Ramsey organises and plans for his end-of-the-world party. It wasn't necessary. That could easily have been excised, or perhaps more done to flesh out how Ramsey wound up being so convinced of this particular conspiracy theory. There's also a flashback to Ramsey's youth that doesn't really achieve much.
Too predictable and lackadaisically paced to work as a thriller, but the decent characterisations and its kind of bittersweet, melancholy mood didn't make me feel as if I had wasted my time in reading it.
The story is about a young girl, raised by her Uncle and Aunt, who is looking for the person who she believes murdered her mother: her father.
It was just o.k: a formulaic detective story.
You know, the typical detective story where on or about chapter three, one character re-tells the entire story from the beginning to another character because the reader might not have been bright enough to keep track of the same.
This is yet another story that is using what is becoming the tiresome literary device of telling parallel stories, alternating between the story of the "past" and the story of the "present" through out the entire book. Does anyone know how to write a story differently now a-days??
And, it was totally unbelievable that the police would tell the young girl the entire theory of their case, and all the evidence they had that "might" make them think that another person murdered her parent. Come on, now Mr. Kardos, you can do better than that! Your readers aren't that gullible and deserve a better presentation.
In general, the book was not that great; not that engaging. You won't miss anything by skipping this one.
1.5 stars; this book is labeled as a thriller, yet there isn't a single thrilling element here. The worst thing that happens to her (in the present not the past) is she gets hit in the head...oh no... And when it happened, it didn't seem like it was anything aside from a small shove--not something that caused a concussion and that's more of a failing of the descriptive action than anything else. But, I felt the same way when her mother got shoved down as well. Mom overreacted, but then she'd already been having a bad day so...though, but the same token we don't really get a feel for mom's character. It's like she's basically a useless copy of Ramsay's mother rather than his wife.
The red herrings here are obvious and I'd be surprised if anyone wasn't able to see through the plot to the truth far early on, but unfortunately Kardos doesn't make use of this fact--or at least not well. The bad fellow appears and talks and leaves...great. I get that he's trying to atone for what he's done, but by no means did you feel sympathy because Melanie is a bland and untrusting character--untrusting I can understand, but bland, not what you want your main characters to be. Her child self had more character than her adult, er teenage self--it should be the opposite (honestly, she's the wrong age here--she sounds in her mid-twenties not 18). And by that same logic, she doesn't make sense--she has been rebelling most of her life and then decides the only reason she'll get out of her situation is because a child is growing inside of her. Okay. She should have done it for herself first, that would have been much more thrilling--then she wouldn't be, sadly, weak from trying to feed herself and it. If anything, this baby felt like a convenient distraction and detraction from what was going on.
The author tried to hide behind Ramsay's narratives of the past to detract from the fact that no, Ramsay is definitely not coming after Melanie and never was and never will be. Two things I was sure about through this by page 27 and somewhere in the middle: 1. Ramsay was not a murderer and 2. He's definitely dead (though the narrative paints it as ambiguous). And this hiding was pretty unsuccessful, despite the very deliberate placing of the flashbacks. Kardos didn't leave himself much room to create a twist ending and if it's obvious, it's not a twist. The how is important when creating a twist that people can see coming, but the how was pretty haphazard and therefore the story was pretty unsuccessful. The past tried to hide Wayne's existence, but by doing that it just put more suspicion on him.
This novel is a common thriller/mystery trope. It does nothing new and it really doesn't introduce itself very well. The blog entry at the beginning was really off-putting. Unique, but there's a reason blog form isn't novel form--they don't come across as journalistic or thrilling, especially with Arthur's particular voice in it. I'm getting quickly tired of these so-called Thrillers being described on their book jackets as something more than they are. The book jacket was more interesting than the story. Such a let down.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
An interesting idea for a mystery/thriller. Not badly executed, but I didn't engage with the characters or much care which way it turned out. Overall I wasn't surprised by how it turned out--what I expected from the blurb is what I got at the end.
This book was so good. It wasn't hard to follow and it was a quick read. This tells the story of Melanie, a young woman whose mother was killed when she was a child. She has always been under the impression that her father was after her. She becomes pregnant herself and is determined to find her father and unlocks plenty of secrets on the way.
When I read the description of this book I thought it sounded good. I was a bit hesitant about the protag being 18 years old because that seems borderline contemporary YA and I'm not feeling that genre right now. I still can't figure out what genre this is trying to be. I have some issues.
1) Melanie. Maybe Melanie's character develops later on in the book, but she's killing me here. She is one dimensional and dumb as a rock. I understand. She's in witness protection and has been most of her life. She is aggressively sheltered by her aunt and uncle and was homeschooled from primary through grade 11, only attending high school for grade 12. But Melanie is not at all socially stunted. She doesn't seem emotionally stunted. She is apparently not academically stunted although she is an 18 year old that reads Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books and references them IRL. I don’t really get it. I was homeschooled for seven years and adequately socialized and I was still super socially stunted when I returned to public school. Yah, like Melanie made no friends in her one year of high school, but there is more to it than that. Anyways, Melanie is super naïve and while technically being 17 ALMOST 18 reads more like a 15/16 year old.
2) That being said, I was extremely uncomfortable with the relationship between Melanie and what’s-his-name. She was a 17 year old that intellectually feels like a 15 year old dating a 23 year old TEACHER. When this relationship is first introduced we I’m like HELL NO THIS IS STATUTORY. Then the author goes out of their way to convince us it’s all good because well she is 17 ALMOST 18 and it’s only a 6 (ALMOST 5) year age difference and she was never HER teacher and they only started dating after she graduated. Still feels hella shady to me. Because this girl is a child. And this dude is offering glasses of wine and I’m like stop pretending that this isn’t some clandestine love affair, my dude. Anyways, she is pregnant with his child and she decides to tell him the truth about her past and he is like “cool” and then she is like I’m having your baby and he is like “less cool but still fine.” And then she tells him that he HAS TO PROTECT HER. And then a squirrel jumps out at them and my dude screams and runs away. So she is like I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU ANYMORE WE’RE THROUGH because he didn’t live up to gender stereotypes even though he warned her he was scared of……rabies.
Then I quit, because that shit is ridiculous. Stop normalizing statutory rape.
O livro é um thriller incrível, do começo ao fim. Digo isso no sentido de instigar o leitor a terminar o livro o quanto antes. A cada capítulo um novo enigma é criado e várias suposições podem resolvê-lo.
É muito interessante, pois Melanie (Meg Miller) vai de encontro a algo totalmente inesperado. Ela passou a vida inteira reclusa, sem desconfiar de nada que lhe diziam, sempre pensando em sua segurança. E, um dia, devido a um fato que está para ocorrer, ela decide ir atrás de seu pai, na pequena cidade de Silver Bay.
Ela está cansada dessa vida de fugitiva e decide ir até o fim, para descobrir toda a verdade. Ela descobre essa verdade. E é aí que está a falha do livro. Até o final ele é emocionante e desejamos saber o que vai acontecer, mas aí quando acaba, muitas pontas ficam soltas. Algumas atitudes que não fazem sentido, alguns personagens que demonstram uma atitude contrária ao seu caráter, enfim, muita coisa fica sem explicação.
É um livro bom, eu gostei, mas poderia ter sido muito melhor. Poderia ter sido mais bem trabalhado no final, com um encerramento adequado ou explicação melhor a alguns fatos. Mas, como a leitura é super rápida (questão de três dias no máximo), vale a pena dar uma conferida.
I am so glad I took a chance on this after reading the raves by other authors. I only half pay attention to these, but I've learned, I think, to trust certain authors not to BS and to read between the lines.
The cover blurb by Jeffery Deaver is so dead-on: Read a few pages of this novel and kiss the next 24 hours goodbye. I could not give it up, as BEFORE HE FINDS HER flawlessly and grippingly transitioned backwards and forwards between 2 storylines: 1) a 17-year-old recently pregnant girl, who's been hidden away in WVa in witness protection since 1991 she was nearly 3, searches for the father she knows killed her mother and who she's always assumed wants to kill her; and, 2) back to 1991 in the days and minutes leading up to her mother's murder (mostly omniscent from her father's POV but some from her mother).
Plenty of twists and turns I cannot describe here without spoiling the book.
Michael Kardos's ability to keep the tension going in this book relied on a lot of "But wait, there's more!" plot gimmicks, but they actually worked, for the most part. Before He Finds Her started testing my credulity early, but I had a suspicion there would be a twist or two to explain that things were not what they seemed, and I was right. Except there was a twist in nearly every chapter. He kept me going, though I admit that at about the midway point, I thought he was going to veer into an apocalyptic sci-fi thriller.
Melanie Denison has been raised in hiding by her aunt and uncle. When she was a toddler, her father murdered her mother and attempted to kill her. He's still out there, never found and never captured, and as long as he's on the loose, Melanie's life is in danger.
If you're starting to see the cracks in the narrative, be assured that there will be more. Melanie is now 17, and about tired of hiding in a small town. She decides to go back to where she was born, and where her mother died, and find out what really happened.
The story makes use of flashbacks from the point of view of many other characters: Melanie's father, her mother, and their friends and neighbors. Eventually a picture forms of the sequence of events, except every time you think the story has settled into telling us what really happened, there is another twist.
Most of them worked. A few of them did stretch credibility a little, but eventually everything is put together for us, and Melanie gets (almost) all the answers she needs.
Solidly entertaining, a book that would probably make an okay movie, and I liked all the little plot contrivances, though they may annoy some readers.
Kniha staví především na dramatické rodinné tragédii a psychologii postav. Dřív než ji najde proto není dech-beroucí thriller, při kterém se vám budou ježit chlupy na rukou. A to je tak trochu škoda. Tempo je pomalé, vláčné a něco přelomového se stane až v samotném závěru knihy. Konec je bleskurychlý, tak trochu klišoidní a kniha s takto zajímavou zápletkou by si zasloužila velkolepější finále. Knize schází potřebná dávka napětí a jiskra, která vás přinutí u dobrého thrilleru sedět až do rána. Na emoce vám příliš nezahraje, na nervy nezabrnká, zkrátka přejde jako dešťová přeháňka a nic moc ve vás nezanechá. Asi první kniha, která u mě po dočtení nevyvolala vůbec nic.