I’ve recently picked up a couple mysteries by authors I haven’t read before, and this is one of them. Before I Go To Sleep received good reviews from a couple sources, and it wasn’t a let down. It’s a slow burner, for sure, but the wait is worth it.
Our main character, Christine, wakes in an unfamiliar bed. Unfamiliar room. Next to a man she doesn’t remember. Rough night out, maybe, but no. She goes to the bathroom, looks in the mirror, and realizes that she is unfamiliar as well. The face is hers, but it’s twenty-some years older than what she expected, and she has no memory at all of getting to that age. Panic, disbelief, nightmare all set in, until the man from the room comes to explain to her what he’s been explaining to her for countless days, every day: she is his wife, this is their house, they’ve been married for years, she had a very bad accident years ago, and has made no new memories since then. Well, not exactly; she can remember things throughout the day, but every night when she sleeps, they are erased. Every morning brings the same shock and unknowing, the same re-learning of her life.
It’s an interesting concept, and it plays out really well in that we, the reader, learn about Christine’s life at the same time she does–she doesn’t know anything that we don’t know. She begins to write things down in a journal each day and has reminders to read it the next day, and in doing so creates a sort of paper memory for herself. She also begins to see a doctor who sets out to help her regain her lost memories, as well as begin to make new ones. Her husband is unaware of these things, though, and she begins to notice that what he tells her can change from day to day, and that what her doctor can tell her about her past is sometimes very different than what her husband tells her. Who’s lying? Why? Christine doggedly pursues her own past, and as every little bit she learns takes her somewhere darker and more dangerous, her inability to remember what really happened greatly increases the suspense. What begins as a rather slow, monotonous and plodding (necessarily so, though) story builds into a blind rush towards the awful truth, one that Christine can’t know (again) until it’s too late.
A nice bedtime read, I think, if there ever was one!