Before She Was Helen
EDGAR AWARD NOMINEE FOR BEST NOVEL
"As Before She Was Helen opens, readers are drawn into what appears to be a light, retirement-community caper. But author Caroline B. Cooney quickly flips expectations upside-down in this deceptively dark mystery. Between old crimes and fresh murders, septuagenarian protagonist Clemmie faces an unspeakable fear that will keep readers hooked in this twisty whodunit."—Julie Hyzy, New York Times bestselling author
From the critically acclaimed, international bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney comes a domestic thriller perfect for fans of mystery books by Laura Lippman and Alice Feeney.
Her life didn't turn out the way she expected—so she made herself a new one
When Clemmie goes next door to check on her difficult and unlikeable neighbor Dom, he isn't there. But something else is. Something stunning, beautiful and inexplicable. Clemmie photographs the wondrous object on her cell phone and makes the irrevocable error of forwarding it. As the picture swirls over the internet, Clemmie tries desperately to keep a grip on her own personal network of secrets. Can fifty years of careful hiding under names not her own be ruined by one careless picture?
And although what Clemmie finds is a work of art, what the police find is a body. . . and she was the last person at the crime scene, where she left her fingerprints. Suddenly thrown into the heart of a twisted investigation, Clemmie finds herself the uncomfortable subject of intense scrutiny. And the bland, quiet life Clemmie has built for herself in her sleepy South Carolina retirement community comes crashing down as her dark past surges into the present.
From international bestselling author of The Face on the Milk Carton Caroline B. Cooney comes Before She Was Helen, an absorbing mystery that brings decades-old secrets to life and explores what happens when the lie you've been living falls apart and you're forced to confront the truth.
Clemmie Lakefield, the heroine of this solid mystery from YA author Cooney (The Face on the Milk Carton), is known as Helen Stephens, a semi-retired teacher, at Sun City, the South Carolina retirement community she has made her home. Quiet and pleasant, if a bit dull, Clemmie is the perfect neighbor. When Dom Spesante, the dour occupant of the adjacent townhouse, fails to respond to Clemmie's daily text, she goes next door to check on him. Dom is nowhere to be found, but Clemmie stumbles on a beautiful glass sculpture. One neighborly act and a photo posted to social media ignite a series of events that threaten to upend Clemmie's charade as Helen. For 50 years, Clemmie has kept a terrible secret, but now with a robbery, the discovery of a body, and her fingerprints in a place they don't belong, Clemmie's lies are in danger of unraveling. Cooney offers frightening reminiscences of innocence destroyed while gently skewering the foibles of the aging and the young. Never mind the slightly contrived ending. Boomers and millennials alike will be satisfied.
Caroline B. Cooney for grownups
I wasn’t sure what to expect of this book, coming from one of my favorite authors when I was a teenager, but I really did enjoy it. Great writing and an original plot.