Posted in Books I have read

Before You Die – Samantha Hayes

Psychological Thriller  3*'s
Psychological Thriller

D.I. Lorraine Fisher, one of the characters from the excellent Until You’re Mine, returns to her home town, Radcote, to visit her recently separated sister Jo and her nephew Freddie. What happens next means that the policewoman isn’t in for much of a holiday. The town had been shocked by a spate of teenage suicides eighteen months previously and so when a young homeless man, Dean complete with suicide note is found dead after a motorcycle crash the tension rises as the community closes in on itself not wanting a repeat of the past.

Lorraine and her youngest daughter, Stella are transported to a household on the edge, Freddie is depressed and distant from his mother, even the delectable Lana not enough to make him venture outside his bedroom and Lorraine is at a loss on how to help, especially as her sister’s reckless affair with a local man, has in her opinion, created some of the outcome.

At the centre of the tale is the Hope Homeless Shelter where Sonia Hawkeswell, mother to Lana and whose son Simon had been found hanged during that dreadful time where the town lost so many of its young, helps to run while simultaneously urging her daughter on to become a doctor. Living with them in a converted barn is her autistic Brother-in-Law Gil who is a gifted artist. When Lorraine meets Gil who shows her a picture she begins to realise that the local Police may not have carried out a diligent investigation into the bike crash and with the help of her husband Adam, she is keen to show them the errors of their ways.

So the cast are assembled, the clues numerous and sometimes misleading and the grief unending which for me was one of the elements that made this book harder to read than some of Samantha Hayes previous books. Grief-stricken characters when realistically portrayed are hard to reach and I just didn’t connect with some of the main characters which caused less tension than I would have liked, although there are plenty of other themes that are explored including; on-line bullying, homelessness, relationships of all kinds and secrets.

I received an advance review copy of this book in return for my honest opinion from the publishers, Random House UK ahead of publication on 24 April 2014.

Samantha Hayes has written five previous books which cover a wide range of domestic and emotional topics which often feed into every mother’s worst fears.

Previous Books by Samantha Hayes

Blood Ties – January 1992. A baby girl is left alone for a moment. Long enough for a mother to dash into a shop. Long enough for a child to be taken.

Unspoken – Mary has a past Julia knows nothing about, and it’s come back to haunt her.

Someone Else’s Son – What would you do if your teenage son was stabbed to death in the school playground?

Tell-Tale – story of three women bound together by a shocking secret…

Until You’re Mine – You’re alone. You’re vulnerable. And you have something that someone else wants. At any cost …

Read a synopsis of these books here


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

19 thoughts on “Before You Die – Samantha Hayes

        1. I think maybe I process some of the tough times by reading other (fictional) takes on similar situations and sometimes these books get a raw deal at review time because it is causes a violent reaction… poor authors!


  1. Hmm…I’ll be reading this soon so am disappointed to hear that you weren’t as keen on it as on Until You’re Mine. We’ll see, but in general I don’t get on very well with books that are too grief-laden…


    1. It is so hard to work with characters realistically when they are burdened with grief, this was an accurate portrayal of grief but it did mean that it was hard to get a sense of the characters themselves… I’m interested in what you think as I couldn’t say too much about other parts without massive spoilers!


      1. I know – that’s always a problem with reviewing. Even saying ‘great twist’ or ‘the plot became unbelievable at the end’ can end up being an unintentional spoiler can’t it? Somebody recently told me I’d hate something that happened on page 100 of a book I was just about to start – it meant that I knew that a huge twist was going to happen then and so the surprise didn’t work for me…the person really hadn’t meant for it to be a spoiler and had given no details but…


  2. The topic of suicide remind me of a dios de la muertos exhibit my 4th grader saw last year. One shrine was dedicated to children who committed suicide due to bullying. What surprised me was that there are even 9-10 year olds. Heartbreaking.


    1. So very sad that children, particularly that young, see no way out. Such a sad situation because as parents, as much as we like to believe we can help, it is very hard once the behaviour is ingrained…


  3. Samantha Hayes is exceptionally good in tapping into our darkest fears and each of her books deals with different issues, I think this is why I enjoy some of them more than others; I prefer books I feel I have a link with.


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