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September 19, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Heather Chavez’s Before She Finds Me Is Murderous, Scandalous And Wickedly Dark

Before She Finds Me By Heather Chavez- Summary

Goodreads summary for Before She Finds Me By Heather Chavez (review below): In this shocking thriller, two unlikely mothers race to uncover the truth behind a horrific attack—even after it becomes clear that the truth will destroy one of their families.

Julia Bennett has worked hard to create a stable life for her daughter, Cora, in Southern California. So when Cora leaves for college, the worst thing Julia expects on move-in day is an argument with her ex-husband and his new wife. But a sudden attack leaves the campus stunned—and only Julia’s quick actions save Cora’s life. Shaken in the aftermath and haunted by a dark secret, Julia starts to wonder: What if the attack wasn’t as random as everyone believes?

Newly pregnant Ren Petrovic has an unusual career—she’s a trained assassin operating under a strict moral code. Ren wasn’t on campus that day, but she knows who was: her husband, Nolan. What she doesn’t know is why Nolan has broken their rules by not telling her about the job in advance. The more Ren looks into the attack, the more she begins to question: Who really hired Nolan? And why did one woman in the crowd respond so differently from all the rest?

Julia and Ren each want answers, but their searches quickly pit them against each other. One woman is a hired killer, but the other is a determined survivor. And both mothers will defend their families to the bitter end.

Before She Finds Me By Heather Chavez- Review

I didn’t expect it. Not the dark humor, and I loved it. All the characters in Before She Finds Me are somehow very likable characters that are doing some fucked-up things. Or are they just fucked-up people? That is a credit to Heather Chavez’s writing. And I’m the one who loves unlikeable characters. But this was something different, fresh and wicked. Ren keeps change as a memento of each kill she completes. And when this line came along, I was gobsmacked.

How about you buy <a cookie… poisoned cookie> from me for, let’s say, a nickel? She watched his face for signs he found the request unusual. He should have. Ren usually had to root through the target’s pockets when they were already incapacitated… But she never asked a target to pay for its death before.

This is definitely a character-driven plot that starts with a literal bang when a mass shooting happens on a college campus. And nothing is forgiving about this event. Heather Chavez writes it with a relentless nature. From there, Before She Finds Me doesn’t stop in pace, twists, or reveals. One of the best parts of Before She Finds Me is the red herrings laid out throughout the book. It gives you a sense of Aha! I got it. Or, HOLY SHIT! But then it is a deep fake leading to something even better. And it all falls neatly into place. None of the fakes or reveals seem too extraordinary for the given plot or characters.

Lastly, I loved the cat-and-mouse game between Ren and Julia (even if they didn’t know they were playing the game. It adds a fantastic layer to the story.

Review and summaryThank you to Mulholland Books and Hachette Audio for the advanced audio copy of Before She Finds Me By Heather Chavez, released on July 27th.

Before She Finds Me By Heather Chavez- Characters

I LOVED LOVED LOVED these characters. Ok, other than Ren’s dad, I disliked the men in Before She Finds Me. But one husband isn’t what he seems, and the ex-husband is a cheating man whore so I’m not asking for forgiveness. Ren and Julia, though? They have my whole heart.

Despite Ren’s being an assassin and Julia’s dark past, they are absolutely characters you want to root for. Ren’s creed and her honor system for killing rings party Maphia and part Orphan X (see summary and series review). And I love me some Orphan X!

Shield The Innocent. Kill The Guilty. Defend The Family

Meanwhile, Julia is just trying to raise her daughter Cora amidst a remarried ex-husband and a past she can’t escape. Told from both their points of view, Before She Finds Me lends sympathy and a unique voice to each character.

Before She Finds Me By Heather Chavez- Final Thoughts/Audiobook

Ooooh! Megan Tusing is becoming a favorite narrator of mine. I’VE LOVED HER WORK since I heard her co-narrate The Block Party. She is the sole narrator of Before She Finds Me and does an excellent job. The production is also excellent, switching from point of view and a flashback here and there. Nothing is jarring about it.

I hoped to like Before She Finds Me, but I ended up being upset with myself for waiting so long to read it. Learn from my mistake, and don’t be me!

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