Lucie Whitehouse - Before We Met

On paper, life couldn't be (much) better for Hannah. After years of working in New York, the thirtysomething advertisting executive is back in London with her new husband Mark, a fellow Brit whom she met through friends during a weekend on Long Island. Mark is handsome, charming and interesting, and runs his own software company. Despite her initial reluctance - for fear of turning into her mother, a bitter divorcée, Hannah had long been a commitment phobe - she fell head over heels in love with him and after they married, agreed to move back to London with him to save costs on a New York office.

So far so good. Hannah is more or less happily ensconced in their lavish West London home, and life could only be improved if she found a new job to replace the one she so willingly relinquished back in New York. In between collecting Mark from his business trips to New York, she keeps herself busy with job applications and socialising with Mark's friends. But then one evening he fails to show up at the airport on his way back from JFK, and, increasingly frantic when she realises that he has been spinning her a web of lies, Hannah turns detective.

As her cosy life begins to unravel (maybe most alarmingly, Hannah discovers that Mark has emptied her account, leaving her with nothing but debts while he remains elusive), she finds more and more holes in his story about his past. Has her brother been right to mistrust him all this time? And why don't Mark and his friends' stories about when they met tally? And then there is the mystery surrounding his family. What is the real reason why Hannah has never met them? Or is she just overly suspicious? Jaded by her previous experiences?

The truth, of course, is rather more sinister than she could have expected, and the final scenes of the novel are utterly nailbiting, turning the story into a real high-octane page turner. This is all the more welcome as the middle part lacks pace at times, not least because much of the back story - which we may or may not believe at this point - is told from Mark's perspective, and as he relates it to Hannah . This makes sense in terms of the main reveal, but unfortunately, it falls a little flat here.

However, there is no doubt that Before We Met is a domestic thriller on par with international bestsellers such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson. Just like her two previous novels, The House at Midnight and The Bed I Made, Before We Met proves that Whitehouse is an incredibly accomplished writer who knows how to spin a riveting and convincing yarn, brimming with menace and suspense. I for one cannot wait for her next novel.