The Night Before

Wendy Walker

St. Martin’s Press

May 14th, 2019

The Night Before by Wendy Walker Is a first-class psychological thriller with a lot of twists. Interestingly the premise begins with on-line dating that creates a tension-filled, suspenseful mystery. The plot delves into childhood memories, family relationships, secrets, lies, and betrayals.

The story alternates between three time periods.  The day of Laura Lochner’s blind-date, the day after, which has her sister, Rosie Ferro, searching for her, and a few months earlier with Laura in therapy sessions speaking to Dr. Kevin Brody. When Laura does not return home, Rosie becomes worried that either something bad happened to Laura or Laura did something terrible. She enlists the help of her husband, Joe, and their good friend, Gabe Wallace, who has the expertise and connections that help them search for Laura

Ever since Laura moved in with her sister’s family after a devastating break-up those around her realize she has coping problems, a bad track record with men, and question if she has a history of unpredictable violence. Rosie has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled younger sister. Unlike Laura who is fragile and always walked an emotional tightrope, Rosie is stable, sensible, with a wonderful husband and child.  As the older sister, she is trying to help Laura balance her desire for all-consuming love, while thinking she is not worthy of love.

Wendy Walker allows the reader to go on the desperate search for Laura, as she keeps them guessing what has happened. The fast-paced story and clever misdirection leads to a jaw-dropping conclusion that has readers on the edge of their seats.

Elise Cooper:  Why the on-line dating premise?

Wendy Walker:  I used experiences in my life.  The second half I have been single for eleven years.  Four of those years I did some on-line dating: two at the beginning and two more recently.  What came out over and over was deception. People would create false profiles.  Some of it was mild deceptions like people lying about their age or putting up fake pictures. 

EC:  Do you have an example?

WW:  The one that was really tough was when someone who I had several dates with, told elaborate stories.  He went into details about his divorce and supported that with a lot of side stories.  I ended up finding out he was still married.  It was not as ugly as it could have been since he was separated.  For me, it was a gut punch. 

EC:  You touch how on-line dating does not seem to encourage commitments?

WW:  Someone I knew described it similar to a candy store.  It is hard to be committed to any particular person because there is a constant supply of people presented as possible matches.  It allows for people to keep looking even after they have met someone.  It is also difficult to see if they are trying to upgrade from you. I see how it has changed the definition of a relationship. Even after there is a match there is no commitment.  People collect 100s of face bubbles.  They do not stop and just date you to see if there is potential.  For now, I have decided to give it up.

EC:  How do you relate it to this story?

WW:  I wanted to make it an empowering story.  It just seems to be immoral at times.  I decided to create a story where a guy who lies about who he is chooses the wrong woman to lie to. 

EC:  How would you describe Laura who went on the blind-date?

WW: I did not want to make her a psychopath or deranged. She is a tinderbox.  I did a lot of research on attachment disorders.  She has a dark past from her childhood and has issues regarding attachment to men.  Because she has anger issues I want the readers to wonder how angry could she get and are there triggers that lead her to violence in the moment.  I hope readers feel they are in her head and are on that date with her hour by hour. 

EC:  How would you describe Rosie, the older sister?

WW:  Normal and grounded.  She was the one always loved by her dad. Toward Laura she is a sisterly mother bear.

EC:  This book seems to support the idea that environment can affect someone’s personality?

WW:  I hope readers want to learn why the characters are who they are.  Every book I write goes back to this and the connections.  I want to bring some understanding and empathy to the characters.  It is what we need to use to survive.

EC:  Can you give a heads up about your next book?

WW:  It will be out next year.  A woman in her early forties has a twenty-one-year-old daughter and a son.  She disappears in a small desolate town. She was abducted to raise a nine-year-old girl.  People think she left on her own because she was estranged from her husband and the adult daughter is an emotional mess. Yet, she is fighting to get out of this house and back to her family.