I love Brighton, so when I came across Before I Left I couldn’t resist picking up a murder mystery set in one of my favourite summer destinations. Fun, flirty, and filled with joy de vivre Before I Left is the perfect balance between mystery, romance, and occult drama. This sweet little thriller hits shelves tomorrow (July 20, 2017), so don’t miss out!
Title: Before I Left
Author: Daisy White
Publisher: Joffe Books
Publication Date: July 20, 2017
Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery
Themes: Murder, Abusive Relationships, Independence
Features: Glossary of Terms
My Rating: 4/ 5
A LONG HOT SUMMER, A CITY BY THE SEA, AND A SERIAL KILLER ON THE LOOSE.
Nineteen-year-old runaway Ruby Baker and pregnant best friend Mary escape domestic violence in London to find a new home in Brighton. They join a glitzy set of party girls, who are hell-bent on enjoying themselves in the new freedom of the 1960s.
But their new life soon comes under threat. Someone is watching Ruby. A tall stranger who Ruby keeps spotting in the shadows. This man may have followed them from London. And Ruby fears her dark secret will be exposed.
Then a murder at a local beauty spot brings danger for the party-loving set, and the first murder is followed by a second. Rumours of occult sacrifices spread across town.
In a breathtaking conclusion, Ruby faces a race against time to save someone very close to her, and her new life may be destroyed and her secrets exposed.
What I love most about this book is that we are thrown into the action right from the first few pages. Written in the first person, and following the journey of Ruby and Mary as they escape their abusive situations in Croydon, it is almost impossible not to become completely caught up in the lives of the girls. From Mary’s estranged husband, to Ruby’s abusive step father, you can’t help but root for the girls as they start to experience life free of inhibition. That is, of course, until a series of murders take place at on of Brighton’s top party spots. From here on in the girls are not only running from their past, but also a serial killer who is working their way through their friend group.
The story line, characters, and setting are all wonderfully developed and I never once questioned reality of these elements. The plight and determination of the girls is particularly endearing, and I adored the transformation of the beauty salon as the investigation took off – this seemed like a perfect development as everyone always gossips with their hairdresser, right? I was not, however, expecting the the inclusion of the occult element into this story. But, that’s not to say that it was a bad thing! Rather, I enjoyed that almost everyone denied the feasibility of this element right up until the very end. To add to the believability of the tale, the serial killer not only starts with the killing of animals, but they also insert themselves into the investigation in such a way that it’s hard to see coming. I must admit that I guessed the killer early on, only to later the second guess my assumption and assign blame to someone who turned out to be innocent. I love it when a book gets me all turned about, especially when you’re not expecting it from a lighter thriller.
I also really enjoyed how the ending came together, but appreciated even more that it wasn’t so clean a conclusion that there was no where to go in the future. I desperately want to know more about the man watching Ruby from the shadows, and what the future has to hold for them, as well as what will happen with the brewing Ruby-James-Kenny love triangle. I enjoyed the little shocks regarding the inspector, Mary’s baby, and the final murder but I feel that the romantic elements were the ones left the least tidied up. Before I Left is a wonderful start to what is sure to be an engaging and entertaining series, and I will be first in line to pick up the next Ruby Baker book when it hits the shelves.
Would I recommend this book? Hands down, yes! It is the perfect blend of lighter fiction and deeply twisted psychological thriller. It’s ideal for those readers who crave a little rush but don’t want the gory details to keep you up at night. Also, perfect for lovers of 60s British fashion as the descriptive elements are spot on… and may have inspired a shopping spree.