Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that have been waiting on the ‘to be read’ pile for however long, and are finally getting an airing.
This week I’m revisiting Before He Finds Her. The audiobook was released in November 2015.
The story opens with a blog post from Arthur Goodale, an eighty-one year old blogger, writing from his hospital bed in the critical care unit after having bypass surgery. A retired newspaperman, one story which has never been solved is always present in Arthur’s thoughts. That is the case of murdered Alison Miller and the subsequent disappearance of her husband, Ramsey Miller and their daughter, Meg. No motive was ever uncovered and no sightings of Ramsey or Meg have ever been reported but their disappearance led the people of Silver Bay and the authorities to believe Ramsey was responsible. Why Ramsey did it and how he and Meg vanished, and where to, have plagued Arthur for the fifteen years since the murder.
Melanie Denison lives in the remote hamlet of Fredonia, West Virginia with her uncle Wayne and aunt Kendra, where they have been relocated for their own safety by the US Marshals. But Melanie is nearly eighteen and weary of living in secrecy and isolation, unable to live a normal life. She wants to have friends and attend college. Melanie has been secretly been seeing a teacher from the local high school and finds herself pregnant. This situation makes her determined to find her father before he finds her, so she and her child can live without fear. What she uncovers turns her life upside down.
“When he’s caught…,” Wayne began. At one time he must have said these words with conviction. Now they sounded perfunctory. Their life in Fredonia was all she knew and, more and more, all her aunt and uncle knew, too. The three of them hardly ever referred to the past at all, let alone to the “he” at the center of it. “When he’s caught…,Wayne began again. But he didn’t seem able to finish the sentence, because it would have been pure fiction.
I like the structure of the narrative, told from alternate points of view and between the past and present, slowly edging towards the denouement as the plot unfolds gradually. The days leading up to the events of fifteen years ago are woven in to the story well giving insights and motivations, fleshing out the characters as they develop and showing the diverse aspects of human nature. Ramsey’s formative years were quite wretched and made him a sympathetic character.
It’s an intriguing mystery, full of unexpected twists, never going the way I expected, nothing seeming straightforward. Following the characters’ journeys added to the storyline and moved it forward. I enjoyed the writing style, the psychological aspect giving the narrative a slightly different and interesting slant. I found it quite compelling and Julia Whelan’s narration only added to the enjoyment.
Everyone in the quiet Jersey Shore town of Silver Bay knows the story: on a Sunday evening in September 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a block party, then murdered his beautiful wife and three-year-old daughter and disappeared.
But everyone is wrong. Ramsey’s daughter survived. Now she’s eighteen and sick of hiding from her father. She’s going to end this. But can she find him before he finds her?