"What Came Before is a remarkable achievement – a smart, fast-paced mystery that asks important questions about identity, family, and race. And, like the best of its genre, it’s loaded with puzzles: What really happened on the day Abbie Palmer’s mother killed herself? Who is the mysterious woman who shows up on Abbie’s doorstep, and why would anyone want her dead? Gay Degani’s prose is at all times lucid and compelling, and her exciting story will keep you glued to your chair." ~ Clifford Garstang, winner of the 2013 Library of Virginia Award for Fiction for 'What the Zhang Boys Know' "With engaging characters and a compelling mystery, Gay Degani’s What Came Before draws you in and doesn’t let go. If this had been a movie, I wouldn’t have left the cinema for more popcorn. A brilliant and complex whodunit with a memorable, imperfect character at its helm." ~ Christopher Allen, author of 'Conversations with S. Teri O’Type (a Satire)'
|Publisher:||Truth Serum Press|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||698 KB|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this book. Here’s why: What Came Before relies on more than a murder mystery to keep readers turning the pages. In addition to fast pacing, a clever plot and complex relatable characters, this novel offers glimpses into societal expectations and racial restrictions during the 1940s and 50s—all written in smooth, beautifully-rendered prose. Abbie Palmer, the main character of What Came Before, has family relationship issues to resolve—from her past, present, and future. After her Hollywood-starlet mother committed suicide when Abbie was four years old, she was raised by her dysfunctional and emotionally-distant father. Memory fragments of her mother and questions about the suicide continue to haunt Abbie. When the novel opens, fifty-two year old Abbie is in the process of exploring self-discovery—although she’s not sure what that means—by living apart from her husband. Olita Jordan, an African-American woman, who is a stranger to Abbie, has left her a cryptic note, “Your mother is my mother.” Abbie is Caucasian and skeptical of the woman’s claim, but attempts to contact her, anyway. Only one snag: Olita Jordan turns up dead, before Abbie can speak to her. Thereafter, Abbie attempts to bond with Olita’s daughter, the mercurial Makenna, and to jigsaw together puzzle the pieces of her mother’s past and that of Olita. Along the way, she learns to appreciate the complexities of relationships, inside and outside her nuclear family. What Came Before is Ms. Degani’s first novel. I can’t wait to read her next one.
This was one of the best books I have ever read! This book will leave you on the edge of your seat. When you think you know how it will end, be ready for an embroiled murder mystery. I did not expect to go into to small town in California, where old secrets were kept for generations. They still have the power to destroy, present family relations. Murders, arson, have all been well kept secrets. Family identity, ghosts, mystery and memories, can and do run real deep, making a great murder mystery.