Frontlist/Backlist is our new series of book reviews. Written by Sundance staff members Alissa Surges and Curtis Vickers, these reviews highlight new books we're excited about while drawing your attention to books from the backlist that complement them. Our first pairing is Michael Kardos's Before He Finds Her and Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.
Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos
New fiction from Mysterious Press, February 3, 2015
The latest novel from mystery writer Michael Kardos, Before He Finds Her, tells the story of Melanie Denison, a young woman who has been in witness protection since her father, Ramsey Miller, murdered her mother when Melanie was just three years old. At eighteen and embarking on her own life, Melanie hopes to uncover the truth of what her father did and why. The journey she takes to uncover this truth, however, is full of twists and turns that will leave her searching for answers that go far beyond one fateful night fifteen years ago and instead rock her fundamental understanding of who she is.
Michael Kardos is a master of suspense. He artfully guides readers through the complex emotional lives of his characters in such a way that we care deeply for each of them—even the “bad guys,” even as we truly dislike them. His characters are full, flawed, and, as such, fully human. On that level alone, Before He Finds Her is a fascinating read. But Kardos also demonstrates a careful and thorough understanding of perception, misperception, and the insecurities that lead us to make the latter, rather than the former. It is really here that Kardos’s book takes flight. Ramsey Miller believes himself to know his wife and what is in her heart. When that is called into question, his insecurities take over and an innocuous moment leads irrevocably to tragedy. The nature of that tragedy and how it comes to be, though, will leave you heartbroken for everyone involved. This is not a book that leaves you quickly after reading it, but rather it is a book that lingers, due not only to its careful unraveling of mysteries and ratcheting of suspense but also to its intelligent understanding of humanity—the lies and half-lies we tell ourselves and others and how quickly and deeply they can lead us into the mire.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Fiction from The Crown Publishing Group, June 5, 2012
Lovers of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, with its careful examination of the facades we put between our true, inner selves and our loved ones—to protect ourselves and to protect them from ourselves—will find a magnificent complementary read in Before He Finds Her. Both books offer keen perception into the mysterious psyches of those we love, and both books move masterfully among multiple points of view to emphasize the gulf between characters’ perceptions of themselves and their presentations of themselves.
Review by Sundance Books and Music