Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers: The Things She's Seen by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Before She Knew Him

Peter Swanson (The Kind Worth Killing) is known for his twisty psychological thrillers, and Before She Knew Him fits right in, with plenty of suspense and surprises.

Hen and Lloyd have just moved into a new house in an attractive neighborhood of a Boston suburb. They immediately bond with their next-door neighbors, Mira and Matthew, the only other childless couple on the street. Their first dinner together, at Mira and Matthew's house, goes well until Hen notices something in Matthew's home office that shocks her--a fencing trophy that was missing from the home of a young man who was murdered two years ago. Hen recognizes the trophy because she had been obsessed with the killing at the time--a byproduct of her mental illness--and she can't hide her distress at the implications of that trophy sitting in her neighbor's home.

The tension in this story comes not from wondering if Matthew is a murderer--the reader knows that he is by the second chapter--but from the fact that he knows that she knows. Hen's history makes her an unreliable witness according to the police, even Lloyd doesn't seem convinced and Matthew appears to be a gentle history teacher. That leaves Hen and Matthew as the only two people who know the truth, and he certainly doesn't want anyone else to find out. This intense and sinister thriller builds to a shocking conclusion as the bizarre relationship between a woman and her killer neighbor plays out. --Suzan L. Jackson, freelance writer and author of Book By Book blog