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The Night Before
BY Wendy Walker

St. Martin’s Press
May 14, 2019/ ISBN 9781250198679
Mystery / Thriller

Reviewed by  Elise Cooper

The Night Before by Wendy Walker Is a first-class psychological thriller with a lot of twists. Interestingly the premise begins with online dating that creates a tension-filled, suspenseful mystery. The plot delves into childhood memories, family relationships, secrets, lies, and betrayals.

The story alternates between three time periods. The day of Laura Lochner's blind-date, the day after, which has her sister, Rosie Ferro, searching for her, and a few months earlier with Laura in therapy sessions speaking to Dr. Kevin Brody. When Laura does not return home, Rosie becomes worried that either something bad happened to Laura or Laura did something terrible. She enlists the help of her husband, Joe, and their good friend, Gabe Wallace, who has the expertise and connections that help them search for Laura.

Walker noted, "The second half I have been single for eleven years. Four of those years, I did some online dating: two at the beginning and two more recently. What came out over and over was deception. People would create false profiles. Some of it was mild deceptions like people lying about their age or putting up fake pictures. Someone I knew described it as similar to a candy store. It is hard to be committed to any particular person because there is a constant supply of people presented as possible matches. It allows for people to keep looking even after they have met someone. It is also difficult to see if they are trying to upgrade from you. I see how it has changed the definition of a relationship. Even after there is a match, there is no commitment. People collect 100s of face bubbles. They do not stop and just date you to see if there is potential. For now, I have decided to give it up."

Ever since Laura moved in with her sister's family after a devastating break-up those around her realize she has coping problems, a bad track record with men, and question if she has a history of unpredictable violence. Rosie has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled younger sister. Unlike Laura, who is fragile and always walked an emotional tightrope, Rosie is stable, sensible, with a wonderful husband and child. As the older sister, she is trying to help Laura balance her desire for all-consuming love while thinking she is not worthy of love.

"I did not want to write Laura as a psychopath or deranged. She is a tinderbox. I did a lot of research on attachment disorders. She has a dark past from her childhood and has issues regarding attachment to men. Because she has anger issues, I want the readers to wonder how angry could she get and are there triggers that lead her to violence in the moment. I hope readers feel they are in her head and are on that date with her hour by hour. On the other hand, her sister Rosie is normal and grounded. She was the one always loved by her dad. Toward Laura, she is a sisterly mother bear."

Wendy Walker allows the reader to go on the desperate search for Laura, as she keeps them guessing what has happened. The fast-paced story and clever misdirection leads to a jaw-dropping conclusion that has readers on the edge of their seats.

Reviewed 2019