The Woman Before Me: Award-winning psychological thriller with a gripping twist...

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

I found this psychological crime thriller pretty banal and predictable, with too convoluted a plot and stereotypical characters. Surely not ALL prison officers are misogynistic and speak only in sexual innuendo? And surely not all support staff are weedy and ineffectual? Be that as it may, the storyline follows convicted baby killer Rose Wilks and her confrontation with her new probation officer Cate who has to judge whether Rose is ready for parole. Inevitably Cate has her own demons to contend with and it’s all very intense and full of drama. Or perhaps melodrama.  The characters’ back stories are gradually revealed, somewhat clumsily, as all the plot twists slowly unravel. Pretty mediocre stuff and I remained unengaged throughout.
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This book had me hooked from the beginning and then continued to get better and better. I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend.
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Rose Wills knows what it is like to lose loved ones in life. She lost her mother to death, her father abanded her, her aunt to death, a husband that did not love her, and a baby boy named Joel just 2 days old. 
Rose is friends with the Hatcher family. She drops a cigarette in their home one day a fire started that claimed the life of the Hatcher’s son, Luke. Rose is then charged with manslaughter and sent to prison. After nearly five years in prison Rose is up for probation. Cate Austin is her probation officer and has to make the decision of Rose’s innocence. 
I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a psychological thriller!
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I was granted access by netgalley.com to an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book was hooked my in the first few pages, and I had a tough time putting it down! An eerie, murder mystery that I'll recommend to all lovers of psychological thrillers!
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The child was unhappy she loved her mom, but her mom died.
She wanted to be loved, but the man she picked loved another.
She was angry and all she wanted was for him to say I love you.
It never happened, and from then on her life got angrier and more bitter until it led to terrible consequences.
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I really enjoyed this book. One of those ones where you can't wait for the work day to end so you can pick it back up as you need to know what's going to happen. New author for me but will definitely be hunting out her others. Well written and loved the characters.
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The Woman Before Me.
Ruth Dugdall takes an unusual slant on crime investigation with probation officer Cate Austin. She’s assigned the case of Rose Wilks, jailed for the manslaughter of a baby boy.
The novel describes the events that lead to Rose’s conviction and Cate’s uncovering of the truth, which proves even more disturbing than it initially appears. Rose’s unhappy childhood, is told in heart-breaking detail, as is the rejection by her family and her futile attempts at forming friendships. 
After the death of her premature son, she becomes obsessed with Luke, a healthy baby born at the same maternity unit. Her obsession leads to tragedy. Cate’s role is to assess Rose’s application for parole. Is she ready for release, when she won’t admit her guilt?
The Woman Before Me is a more nuanced approach to crime, punishment and what leads individuals to carry out unspeakable acts. It evokes the violence and hierarchy of prison, its mostly pitiful inhabitants and the callous disposition of the staff. The narrative is meandering but delivers a vicious kick at the end.
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Rose Wilks has been in prison for four long years. Incarcerated for something she didn't do.  Another tragic part of a life filled with tragedy and betrayal. Rose is serving a sentence for manslaughter. She is charged with setting a fire that took a baby's life.

Rose's life has been a lonely one. At an early age her mother commit suicide and she went to live with her Auntie Ruth.  Ruth was a spinster with no children of her own. Her parenting skills were sketchy to say the least. She did love Rose, but her failing health prematurely ended their time together.

Shelving her dreams of getting a university education, Rose went to live and work in a local hotel. It is there that she meets and falls in love with Jason, the bartender.  Jason, though somewhat attentive to Rose, is still very much in love with his ex-wife, Emma.  Where Rose is plain, Emma is beautiful.  Fearful of losing Jason, Rose thinks she can make Jason love her. In her effort to do this, she falls pregnant.

"I thought we were going to be a normal family, just like I'd always wanted."

Rose and Jason have an argument and Rose delivers prematurely. Their tiny son, Joel, is barely clinging to life. Jason and Rose are distraught, upset and apprehensive.

Emma Hatcher, Jason's ex-wife is also pregnant. She delivers a son, Luke, and is in the hospital at the same time as Rose.  Luke is healthy and thriving - Joel is weak and sickly.  Rose rails against the injustice of it, but cannot help but love baby Luke.

"There should be a word for it. If I'd lost a husband, I would be a widow. But what is a woman who loses a baby? There is no word."

Rose befriends Emma, who has no idea of Rose's relationship with Jason, her former husband. Rose frequently babysits for Emma. She bonds with baby Luke. She even goes so far as to breastfeed him, and to sneak into Emma's house while she is asleep, just to fondly gaze upon Luke in his cot.  It is after a night when she has done this, that there is a fire in Emma's house and baby Luke is killed. He was just four month old.

Cate Austin is a probation officer. A single mother in her late twenties, Cate has just started working at the Suffolk prison - Rose Wilks is her first case. It is up to Cate to determine if she feels that Rose is a good candidate for early parole.

Cate is struggling, and like all single, working mothers, she is riddled with guilt. Her darling little girl is being looked after by a childminder.  The little girl's father is now living with another woman. Everything seems like so much effort, like a juggler with too many balls in the air.

Can Cate be objective with Rose's case? Will her own parental guilt influence her parole report?

Rose Wilks did not start the fire that killed Luke. But just what IS she guilty of?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Like me, you might think you've got this whodunnit all figured out about halfway through. However... you'd be wrong. This novel holds some plot twists that will shock you.

The characterization in this novel was very well rendered, causing the reader to empathise with all of the central characters. The author employed complicated emotional subterfuge to make the impact of her plot twists more deeply felt.

This novel about three women, is about mothering, about loss, and about parental guilt. Written in a way that is articulate and compelling, this is the second novel by this author that I have read.  Lucky me. Ruth Dugdall has written several other books including three other titles in the Cate Austin series, so I have lots of great reading ahead.  Highly recommended.
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Great story...lots of guessing and a real page turner ... Brilliant author...would love to read more by her!
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Whilst there were plenty of clever twists to the story I felt overall that some of the characters were rather flat. The behaviour in places was too stereotypical for me to take seriously for example how the first prison officer spoke and acted around Cate.
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A thoroughly enjoyable read full of twists and turns. Thought I’d worked out the plot but was left feeling surprised. Highly recommended
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Thanks Netgalley and the Pub lisher.  This is a very powerful read that kept me guessing right to the end.  Highly recommend
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I devoured this book a month ago and continue to be haunted by it. Dugdall manages to explain the inexplicable and horrifying actions of a wounded and sick woman with expert humanity. In a marketplace packed with "gone girls", missing or abusive husbands, and boilerplate plotting, this novel stands head and shoulders above the scrum of other psychological fiction.
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An enjoyable and easy read, with some interesting twists and turns. Secondary characters (those working in the prison) felt a little 2 dimensional and stereotyped, meaning these sub plots felt superfluous. An interesting reveal in some ways, the threads of the whodunnit aspect could have been tied up a little neater.
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⭐️ This book deserves All the twisty stars ⭐️ 
10 ⭐️s!!
Here is why:
The writing is superb and the format is really interesting because it is written in two POVs: Cate in the present and Rose through her Black Diary. I enjoyed this style and the author truly connected me to the characters. We got to know them without added unnecessary “fluff”.
I love a good stalker story and this became one but not in the usual psycho stalker way. I actually felt bad for Rose for about 80% of the book. Her Black Diary written by her, totally pulled at my heart strings which is why this book rocks! 
Expect the unexpected and hold on to your hats kids because this book takes you for a ride and messes with your emotions!!!!! 
No more because I don’t want to slip and giveaway the good stuff! Trust me, it’s a chilling story and it’s told really well and it is truly shocking. I look forward to hopefully more books in a Cate series.

Thank you #NetGalley, the Publisher and the author Ruth Dugdall for my free ARC in return for my honest review. 
My review: 10 ⭐️s!!!!
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I loved this book.  I love mystery and psychological thrillers, this is a good book.

Rose Wilk's life is torn apart when her  newborn son Joel ends up  in intensive care. Emma Hatcher has everything that Rose lacks.  She's beautiful, she has a loving husband, and a healthy son.  Everything is great until it's not when tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect.

Rose goes to jail for five years and now she's getting ready to be released.  They are wondering if she's remorseful for her crime or if she's still a threat to society.

I wasn't expecting the ending at all.. and I was waiting for the part in the book where I was like "okay.. I have this figured out" but that moment never came.  Great book.
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Hi Karen,

My Next review is:-

“The Woman Before Me)”, Thriller Series With Cate Austin by Ruth Dugdall published in paperback by Legend Press; Revised ed. edition (1 Mar. 2018). 304 pages ISBN-13: 978-1787198586

Emma has everything Rose lacks: a faithful husband, beauty, and a healthy baby boy. Rose meets her in the hospital after her own baby dies from premature birth, and when Emma's child dies in a suspicious house fire shortly after, the obsessive and unstable Rose is the primary suspect.
Now, after almost five years in prison, Rose is up for parole, but probation officer Cate Austin must first decide whether this accused murderer can be released or if she really is a threat to society. The answer seems obvious at first, but as Cate delves deeper into Rose's disturbing past--a suicidal mother, a distant father, on her own at a young age--the probation officer becomes entangled in the inmate's dark world.
Originally published in August  2006, this book is the first of a series that feature Cate Austin a probation officer working mainly in Suffolk prisons.
Winner of CWA Debut Dagger Award and the Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Woman Before Me is a poignant psychological thriller that explores relationships, dysfunctional families, and the penal system with depth and sensitivity that culminates in a shocking conclusion. Did she really do it? Where does the line between love and obsession lie? Can justice be served?

I found the story really poignant and very moving although as a male reader I found the preoccupation with baby care and breast feeding rather uncomfortable reading. That aside it was a fascinating story with a surprising ending. I do not think I would read any of her other books in this series but it was unusual and very memorable for it’s authenticity.
Recommended.
 
Best wishes,

Terry
(To be published on eurocrime.co.uk in due course)
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WOW! I cannot recommend this book enough! The Woman Before Me by author Ruth Dugdall is an amazing pyschological thriller! I had heard and read a few reviews on it, and when I recieved a Kindle copy I started it to see HOW good it was. Well, I finished it the next day. I couldn't stop reading! The twists, the vibes, the questions and shocking answers! I would absolutely recommend this book to ANYONE! You don't have to like a certain genre to love this book! Worth all 5 stars! ☆☆☆☆☆
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This book is a true psychological thriller in all it’s glory. It’s not perfect, one rarely is, but this is as close as it gets. 
At times it was hard to read the words that so beautifully describe a very sensitive matter but that’s exactly what Ruth did, she made me feel. 
It’s raw, it’s ugly, it’s harrowing, it’s heartbreaking and it’s beautiful. 
None of the characters were likeable but that didn’t bother me one bit. Rose is a quite disturbing character, so pathetic at times it made me clench but i wanted to know more about her, she pulls you in to her world and won’t let you go and believe me you will want to go. 
I enjoyed her black book entries and the letter to Jason which lets us into her broken mind and makes us understand her story. 
The only issue I had was with Emma’s character, she’s supposed to be this beautiful, attention-grabbing woman but she left no impression on me and I can’t see how she made Jason or Dominic fall madly in love with her with such a simple and plain personality. Other than that, I really enjoyed this read and would definitely recommend to all the mystery lovers out there. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Legend Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
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I was given an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review. This book apparently is internationally acclaimed , and one awards, I just don't see it. I read a lot of these books , they're my guilty pleasure , even when they're awful they're at least entertaining . This book… All the characters were flat one note clichés , the twist was just insulting , and I felt like I had to plod my way through the book.  A dud.
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