The Night Before
On Sale Now
A shocking, twisty novel that has the biggest names in the thriller community buzzing…
First Dates Can Be Murder.
Riveting and compulsive, national bestselling author Wendy Walker’s The Night Before “takes you to deep, dark places few thrillers dare to go” as two sisters uncover long-buried secrets when an internet date spirals out of control.
Laura Lochner has never been lucky in love. She falls too hard and too fast, always choosing the wrong men. Devastated by the end of her last relationship, she fled her Wall Street job and New York City apartment for her sister’s home in the Connecticut suburb where they both grew up. Though still haunted by the tragedy that’s defined her entire life, Laura is determined to take one more chance on love with a man she’s met on an Internet dating site.
Rosie Ferro has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled sister. Fearless but fragile, Laura has always walked an emotional tightrope, and Rosie has always been there to catch her. Laura’s return, under mysterious circumstances, has cast a shadow over Rosie’s peaceful life with her husband and young son – a shadow that grows darker as Laura leaves the house for her blind date.
When Laura does not return home the following morning, Rosie fears the worst. She’s not responding to calls or texts, and she’s left no information about the man she planned to meet. As Rosie begins a desperate search to find her sister, she is not just worried about what this man might have done to Laura. She’s worried about what Laura may have done to him…
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“Walker’s clever misdirection paves the way to a truly chilling finale, and she has plenty of insightful things to say about the blame placed on women by society and themselves for the idiotic, careless, and sometimes downright evil things men do. Twisty and propulsive.”
“Walker excels at exploiting multiple timelines and ample misdirection to maximize the suspense of her twist-filled tale.”
“Skillfully manipulating tension and using breathless pacing, Walker keeps that question in the air until the final twist unmasks secrets about Laura’s disappearance and the murder in her past.”—Booklist
“The Night Before will keep you guessing until the very last pages. A twisting, turning delight!”
“A dazzling hall-of-mirrors thriller: ferociously smart, furiously paced, and — best of all — honest-to-goodness surprising. All hail Wendy Walker.”
—AJ Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
“I raced through The Night Before, another page-turning cracker from Wendy Walker. You’re in for a treat!”
—BA Paris New York Times bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors
“As timely as it is compelling, The Night Before gripped me from the first page all the way to its stunning conclusion. Through twist after twist, the story takes you to deep, dark places few thrillers dare to go. A riveting read!”
—Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Time I Lied
“Tightly coiled and perfectly plotted, The Night Before is a wonderfully tense and extremely pleasurable read…Wendy Walker lures us in with a gathering sense of dread, proving once again that she is among the most talented and fearless writers at work today”
—Aimee Molloy, New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Mother
“Wendy Walker proves her ingenuity with her latest hair-raising chiller. Teeming with taut writing, an abundance of jaw-dropping revelations, and Walker’s uncanny insight into the dark side of human nature, The Night Before is irresistible.”
—Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl
“A sharp, suspenseful, roller-coaster of a thriller…Walker unravels the hidden secrets between families and friends in this smart, compelling read. Impossible to put down!”
—Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls
“Pulse-pounding action makes you race to the finish of this addictive thriller…Just when you think you have everything figured out, Walker pulls the rug out from under you and leaves you staggered. The writing sings, and the twists deliver.”
—Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish
“The Night Before is as surprising as it is chilling, as fast-paced as it is suspenseful. Buckle up and enjoy the ride, because once you start, you won’t be able to put this book down.”
—Hannah Mary McKinnon, author of The Neighbors and Her Secret Son
Forbes, August 2019: The Best Thrillers of 2018-2019
The Big Thrill, May 2019: On the Cover: Wendy Walker
Hello Giggles, May 2019: The 11 best new books to read in May, because your book club needs a shake-up
Stamford Advocate, April 2019: Wendy Walker’s Journey to ‘The Night Before’
Laura Lochner. Session Number One. Four Months Ago. New York City.
Laura: I don’t know if this is a good idea.
Dr. Brody: It’s up to you, Laura.
Laura: What if you try to fix me and I end up more broken?
Dr. Brody: What if you don’t?
Laura: I’m scared to go back there. To the past. To that night in the woods. A piece is still missing.
Dr. Brody: It’s up to you. Only you can decide.
Laura: It was in my hand. The weapon that killed him. But that night didn’t change me. That night made me see what I’ve always been.
Dr. Brody: Then let’s start there. Tell me about the girl you’ve always been.
Laura. Present Day. Thursday, 7 P.M. Branston, CT.
Lipstick, cherry red.
I choose the color because it’s bright and cheerful. It’s optimism in a tube. And that’s exactly what I need tonight.
The guest bathroom at my sister’s house is impossibly small, with slanted ceilings and a tiny oval mirror. The lipstick hovers on the edge of a pedestal sink.
I put it on first so I won’t change my mind, rolling that optimism right across my lips. Next comes the concealer. Two stripes under my brown eyes, and the dark circles from weeks of insomnia disappear. Rose blush colors cheeks that have not seen the sun for far too long.
Insomniacs sleep during the day.
My sister, Rosie, gave me a pretty dress to wear. Black with tiny flowers.
Wear a dress for a change. It will make you feel pretty.
Rosie just turned thirty. She has a husband and a toddler—Joe and Mason. They have a house in the hills of Branston, six miles from downtown. And one mile from the place where all of this started. The street where we grew up. Deer Hill Lane.
Rosie says she doesn’t have any occasion to wear the dress. The skirt gets in her way when she’s chasing after Mason and she’s too tired to do much of anything at night except grab a beer in the strip mall at the edge of town. She says this like she misses having nothing better to do than put on makeup and dresses. But really, she doesn’t need the dress or the occasions to wear it, because her days are filled with bear hugs and belly laughs and sticky kisses on her face.
Her husband, Joe, doesn’t care. He adores her. Even now, after thirteen years together. After growing up together on the same street. Even with Mason sleeping in their bed, and an old house in need of constant repair, and Rosie never wearing a dress.
He adores her because when they were young, she wore lots of pretty dresses for him and that’s the person he still sees.
That’s the kind of person I need to be tonight.
I search for my phone in a pile of towels and clothing that lie on the bathroom floor. When I do, I pull up the profile and unchain the hope. Jonathan Fields. His name sounds like a song.
Jonathan Fields. I found him on a dating website called findlove.com—an actual website. The name says everything about it. Jonathan Fields is forty. His wife left him a year ago because she couldn’t get pregnant. She kept their house. He drives a black BMW.
That’s what he told me.
Jonathan Fields spoke to me on the phone. He said he didn’t like emails or texting because it was too impersonal. He said he hated online dating but that his friend met his fiancé on findlove.com. It was not one of those hookup apps. No swiping allowed. The profile takes an hour to build. They have to approve your photos. Jonathan Fields said it was like having your grandmother fix you up on a blind date, and this made me laugh.
Jonathan Fields said he liked the sound of it.
I liked the sound of his voice, and remembering it now actually sends a surge of warmth through my body. I feel my mouth turn up at the corners. A smile.
A fucking smile.
I told him a lot about my job, and this made it easier to tell him very little about me.
I have an impressive résumé after jumping through hoops all my life. Princeton … an MBA from Columbia … a job on Wall Street!
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About The Night Before
Reviews for The Night Before
Wendy Shares Background on Writing The Night Before
Unlike my first two thrillers, The Night Before began with something very personal.
I have been dating again for eleven years now. Relationships account for seven of them. The other four – two on the front end and two more recently – were spent immersed in the world of Internet dating. Add to that the experiences of several exchange students and au pairs who have lived with us, and nearly all of my single friends, and the stories involving deception became impossible to ignore.
When you’re a writer, you answer that call with a novel.
In The Night Before, Laura Lochner goes on a date with a man she’s met on the Internet. She never makes it home. We get to follow her on this date, in real time, knowing something is about to go very wrong.
I was determined not to write a “damsel in distress” story. I wanted to turn this theme upside down so that we start to become more afraid of what Laura might do to this man than what he might do to her.
To accomplish this, I needed to make the man a liar – the kind of man who could incite anger in a woman who was trusting, and genuinely eager to find real love.
I also needed to give Laura a psychological issue that would be triggered by this anger. She had to be at the breaking point with her life and the choices she’s made. She had to be desperate to figure out why she keeps choosing men who break her heart, and hopeful that she’s finally broken the cycle with her choice on this night – the night before.
I began with two questions – what psychological issues would cause Laura to choose the “wrong” partners, and stay with partners while they continue to hurt her? Here is a summary of what I learned researching this topic through articles and conversations with psychologists.
I never thought I would be a writer. As a young girl, I dreamed of winning the Olympic Gold Medal as a figure skater. I even spent three years living away from home at a training camp in Colorado Springs. When I was sixteen and my talents fell short, I looked for a new dream.