For the mystery thriller square of Indiecember, I read The Four Before Me by E H Night.
After Alice’s grandmother kills herself, Alice moves out of the city to the sleepy small town of Wintersburg. Enchanted by her grandmother’s stories of growing up in the small town, and with no other family, Alice hopes to set down some roots. Everything seems to be going swimmingly at first; she gets a job as a hairdresser at the local salon, and Edna, the proprietor, takes her under her wing. She quickly becomes good friends with her neighbor, Tawny, and there’s a handsome police detective, Blake Darrow, just down the street.
However, Wintersburg harbors a dark secret. Four young women with brunette hair have gone missing in the last couple of years, and Alice feels a strange kinship to them, especially to the last girl to vanish, Sarah, whose house Alice now lives in.
When the body of the first missing woman is found, Alice fears for her safety, but who can she trust when there’s a killer in her midst? Could it be handsome barber, Benji, or simple minded giant, Will, or could it even be Detective Darrow?
Written in past tense and changing from limited to omniscient third person perspective, The Four Before Me is set in the late 1980’s and exploits the lack of mobile phones and internet that this time period provides. In a nice nod to the decade, each chapter is named after a song or television show from the era. Alice is an interesting character, and the isolated newcomer to a new town is a scenario rife with tension.
I enjoyed The Four Before Me. It has its issues, but at its heart it is an entertaining thriller that will keep you reading to discover the fate of Alice, and, more importantly, which of the numerous suspects is the killer.
Unfortunately, the writing let down my enjoyment of this book. Some clunky sentences and uneven pacing, as well as an exposition heavy ending that contradicted its timeline, caused me to reduce its rating.
I award The Four Before Me…
The Four Before Me is available for $4.19 ebook and $10.99 print book on Amazon.