Winner of Crime Debut and Readers’ Choice Awards—Sisters in Crime
“A brave and timely novel.” —Clare Mackintosh, internationally bestselling author of Hostage
This is not just another novel about a dead girl. Two women—one alive, one dead—are brought together in the dark underbelly of New York City to solve a tragic murder.
When she arrived in New York on her eighteenth birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice Lee was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city’s latest Jane Doe. She may be dead but that doesn’t mean her story is over.
Meanwhile, Ruby Jones is also trying to reinvent herself. After travelling halfway around the world, she’s lonelier than ever in the Big Apple. Until she stumbles upon a woman’s body by the Hudson River, and suddenly finds herself unbreakably tied to the unknown dead woman.
Alice is sure Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her short life and tragic death. Ruby just wants to forget what she saw…but she can’t seem to stop thinking about the young woman she found. If she keeps looking, can she give this unidentified Jane Doe the ending and closure she deserves?
A “heartbreaking, beautiful, and hugely important novel” (Rosie Walsh, New York Times bestselling author), Before You Knew My Name doesn’t just wonder whodunnit—it also asks who was she? And what did she leave behind?
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz is an innovative psychological thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat and reframes the way murders are written about.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
I’ll be completely honest – I don’t know what to expect. This book sounds very different from other thrillers I have read, so I am intrigued.
Actual Reading Experience:
This psychological thriller truly is like a few others I’ve read. There are very few twists, but the suspense level remains high from start to finish. Telling the story through the ghost of the murder victim brings all new layers to a story that otherwise would have been ordinary at best. Instead, the narration makes it truly extraordinary.
The writing is so haunting and beautiful it took no effort to believe I was reading the thoughts of someone who recently departed. Just the way it is done is just perfect, and it has an ethereal quality that I can’t figure out how the author achieved.
The story isn’t just about the murder victim. It is also about the woman who found the body – Ruby Jones. Her story is complex and messy but so very compelling. But I’ll talk more about her under the character section.
This is very much a character-driven story. And the two main characters are more than capable of pulling the reader in and making them feel what they are feeling. I don’t know that I loved the characters or even related, but I did care very much about their story, which is the key.
Alice Lee lost her mother when she was still a kid, and she was the one that found her mother’s dead body. Since then, her life has been unpredictable and marked by bad decisions. Decisions led to her spontaneously moving to New York on her 18th birthday and boarding with an older man who had placed an ad. Ultimately, she wants to do something with her life and not just live hand to mouth. Just as things are looking up, her life is taken in a very violent manner, and now she wants to say something to the reader.
Ruby Jones is having an affair with a soon-to-be-married man in her home country – Australia. As his wedding date gets closer, Ruby realizes she must make some changes and rediscover herself before it’s too late. She ends up in New York City the same night that Alice Lee arrives, but little does she know that their paths will cross again and again and that Alice’s death will haunt her until it is solved.
Narration & Pacing:
The ghost of Alice Lee tells this tale in first-person narration. The highly personalized narration was a must for a story such as this. And the way it is written is just perfect. It truly is as if Alice is talking to the reader from the afterlife.
The pacing is more medium, but the fact that it is also fascinating makes up for the slower pace.
The setting is New York City, which is appropriate and used well. NYC is the beacon for people who want a fresh start, which both Alice and Ruby want to do. It is also dangerous for women, as many places are, especially after dark.
Read if you like:
- A victim-centered story
- Character-driven tales
- Psychological Thrillers
Overall Rating: 4.67out of 5
|‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness||8|
|World-Building / Use of Setting||10|