Before We Were Strangers

Before We Were Strangers

by Brenda Novak

Overview: Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn’t sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool, autumn air. And then there’d been that other sound—the ominous thump before all went quiet. In the morning, her mother was gone.

The official story was that she left. Her loving, devoted mother! That hadn’t sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small, Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn’t just difficult—he was deadly. Now, another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if that means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend, and a father and brother who’d rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn’t whether she can uncover what really happened that night…it’s what will remain of her family if she does?

Carole Zwicker (12/05/18): This is the first time a Brenda Novak book has been on my TBR list because I assumed she wrote mostly romance novels, which is not one of my favorite genres. However, Before We Were Strangers has been a most pleasant surprise: it is a contemporary mystery thriller that captures the reader's attention from the first page. Sloane McBride, at age 5, overheard her parents having a violent argument. The next morning, her mother had disappeared, never to be seen again. This abandonment stayed with the child into adulthood. She left her hometown in Texas as soon as she was 18, leaving behind her best friend and her boyfriend Micah. She returned 10 years later because she was convinced that her rich and powerful father was responsible for whatever happened to her mother. With Micah's help, they proceed to dig up the past in order to solve her mother's probable murder, in spite of her father's and brother's obstruction of their investigation. This is a whodunit that will stay with the reader, long after the last page. I look forward to more novels by Brenda Novak.
Rating: *****

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