Cover Image: Before I Met Him

Before I Met Him

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Member Reviews

Thrilling story with a plot that kept me turning the pages, really well written with great characters.  Highly recommend to everyone who is a fan of this genre.  Edge of your seat!!
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This was another good and solid read, with loads of twists and turns from the beginning to the end.  I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.
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Trigger Warning: Pedophilia and gruesome violence.

I made it 35% before throwing in the towel. I just couldn't go on. I didn't like the characters at all. In the small bit I read none of them were very likable. 

Rebecca was a damn whack job. A nasty, bitch psychopath. Yes, she was molested when she was 6, but she is now in her twenties, and chopping men to pieces. We never see her growing up. Never learn of her healing process or why she never healed enough not to turn into a psychopath. Maybe the author disclosed that later in the book. I don't know and don't care enough to continue reading.

Grav was a drunken asshole. Nothing likable about this detective. And if I hear him call one more woman Love... He even called a victim's mother this. How unprofessional! Again, maybe his character got better, I don't know and don't care. 

Coroner Carter was another snarky bitch. Who lacked professionalism. I mean Detective Sergeant Kesey was asking her things that were within her job parameters. Nothing out of the box and Carter acted like she was putting her out. At this point, I knew I was done. 

I am one who believes that Pedophiles should be tortured. But this book was really graphic in detail. I can't do graphic like this in books or movies/tv shows. 

The premises was interesting but this just wasn't for me.
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Seventeen years ago, Rebecca Smith was only six-years-old when she was sexually abused by her ballet teacher. Despite being brave enough to tell the authorities what had happened to her, the Crown Prosecution Service decides there isn't enough evidence to secure a conviction and declines to press charges against her abuser.

The Smith family is understandably angry at justice having not been served and the lead investigator in Rebecca's case, DI Gareth 'Grav' Gravel, carries with him the guilt of not being good enough to put her abuser away.

In present day, now twenty-three and working as an IT expert for the police force, Rebecca remains traumatised and cannot help but feel the police let her down. Devoting her adult life to vigilante justice, Rebecca logs in to chat rooms and poses as a young girl, luring the worst paedophiles into a trap before torturing and dismembering them one by one.

When the severed head of one of Rebecca's victims is washed up on a windswept river estuary beach and discovered by a dog-walker, Grav and his team find themselves hunting a new serial killer. Little does he know, his path will cross with Rebecca's once more...

Originally published in 2017 under the title A Mind To Kill and republished this year (2018) by Bloodhound Books as Before I Met Him, this is the second of John Nicholl's books to feature the grumpy but endearing detective Gareth Gravel.

The premise of this title is very different to that of Portraits of the Dead, the first book in the DI Gravel series, but it's equally as dark and gritty as its predecessor. A former police officer and later a child protection social worker, John Nicholl's experience in both fields shines though in his character portrayal and the topics he approaches in his novels. Hardened as I am to graphic violence, there are some pretty gruesome torture scenes in this novel, yet the violence doesn't feel gratuitous and while it would be easy to be repelled by Rebecca's actions, Nicholl has done such a wonderful job of creating a realistic story for Rebecca that it's hard to feel anything but sadness for his protagonist.

I also like that Nicholl's writing makes me stop and think about the actions of his characters. Is vigilante justice ever justified? Is the adage "an eye for an eye" justice, or merely revenge? Nicholl's explored the emotions and long-lasting effect Rebecca's childhood abuse had on her, but it was nice to see him explore the emotion(s) felt from the point of view of Garv, too. We often forget that detectives are only human. How must they feel when a case doesn't reach court, knowing someone is guilty and free to roam the streets?

All in all Before I Met Him is a well-written, fast-paced psychological thriller that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to readers who like their fiction sprinkled with a dusting of darkness.
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And just like that.. any luck i had with books was over.  Absolutely painful 'hero' in the novel.  Such an awful human being and calling everyone 'love' and just being a general overweight, hard drinking arsehole.  Really took away from the whole story side of things.  Also, um.. when they finally caught the killer, it was just sort of like 'okay cool, tick, done'.  Weird. 

Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is the 3rd book in the DI Gravel series by author John Nicholl.
In this book we know who the killer is from the beginning of the novel, Rebecca Smith, an IT expert for the police who was sexually mistreated as a child. At the age of 6, Rebecca was abused but there was not enough evidence to convict the rapist. These disturbing events naturally affected Rebecca and having failed to come to terms with the horrors she turns to seeking her own justice against as many paedophiles as possible. Unfortunately for Rebecca a severed head is found in a bag by the river and the police are now involved. 
This is a dark book covering the disturbing subject of child abuse and focuses on the aftermath of the child and her family, when the legal system fails and the abuser escapes justice. This is what happened to Rebecca Smith and her life was changed forever.
DS Gareth Gravel, known as Grav was the officer in charge of the child abuse case and had to deliver the bad news to the Smith family that the case would not make it to court. Now seventeen years later there paths are destined to cross again with Grav hunting the killer and Rebecca seeking vengeance on any man who preys on innocent children.
I would like to thank Net Galley and Bloodhound Books for supplying a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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A few bits from the previous book niggled me but as soon as that was finished with, I really enjoyed this book. As vivid as the last book. I will definitely be waiting for Mr Nicholls books in the future
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Devils in Human Form. 

Before I Met Him is another gripping book from author John Nicholl featuring DI Gareth Gravel. With not enough evidence to prosecute abuser Sheridan, the best thing the cops can do now, is to wait for him to slip up. Oh, right. Tell that to the little six year old girl and her family, and see what happens next... and that's just how Nicholl played this story. Seventeen years later we get to see exactly what damage was done. The hunted does in fact become the hunter. 

Wow! As depressing as this sounds this is a fantastic, gory, and engrossing read. "Before I Met Him" blends the psychological thrills expected in a crime book with elements of pure horror. Who wouldn't want the abused to get their own back? But is there ever a right way to do it? Is an eye for any eye justice, or plain old revenge? If you can't hunt the one that did it to you, will any other abuser do? There are just some of the questions this book had me thinking as I dissected each twist and turn and raced towards the blood curdling end. 

It's dark, sadistic, and totally creepy. It's another brilliant, well-written John Nicholl book! 

Bloody marvellous! 



Thank you to Bloodhound Books, John Nicholl and Netgalley for my ARC copy. This is my own opinion and not biased in any way.
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Thankyou to NetGalley,  Bloodhound Books and the author John Nicholl for the opportunity to read a copy of the book Before I Met Him in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Having read books from this author before, I jumped at the chance to read this offering. And, I was not disappointed. 
I found the storyline to be well thought out and written. I was hooked right from the start and stayed up all night to finish it. 
Well worth a read. 3.5 stars
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I haven’t read any of this authors books before but I didn’t feel I missed anything with jumping into a series at book three.
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Usually I have no idea where to begin with a book review, which you may have noticed by now if you’ve read more than one of my reviews, haha.

But this book. This. Book. I feel as though I have lost my mind. Before I Met Him was an insanely wild ride, filled with extreme gore and violence to the point where I could not look away or skim through paragraphs. When I say Before I Met Him was insanely mental, I mean it.

Before I get into what Before I Met Him is about, I have not read the first book in the DI Gravel series, Portraits of the Dead. That said, I believe you can read this as a standalone which is what I have done. But, I will be going after Portraits of the Dead!

There are three main characters who’s lives and heads we get to see into: Rebecca, DS Kesey, and DI Gravel. Abused as a child by a man who was released from his crime, Rebecca grows up to fix what she believes is the scum of the Earth. Paedos beware. Rebecca will find you! While DI Gravel is on vacation, DS Kesey is new to the force and she is the first to deal with this (explained below) case.

The story starts out with DI Gravel begrudgingly taking a required vacation (either that, or retire, which he does not want!). He gets on a plane and visits his distant son; DI Gravel’s fault! But that is beside the point. DI Gravel is attempting to enjoy his vacation until he (eventually) receives a phone call asking for him to return to work immediately. This does not happen until probably 40% or so in.

Now, calling DI Gravel in after demanding he take some R&R has to require a heck of a case, right? Damn right it does! While walking her dog on the beach, a local primary doctor located a bag filled with, you guessed it, body parts. Okay, pretty interesting (and traumatizing) but when called in, DS Kesey can handle this on her own, surely. Except . . . there were body parts from multiple bodies, at least two. So, where have these bodies come from?

This is the meat and bones of Before I Met Him, which is incredibly fast paced and had me staring wide-eyed at the pages. I enjoy a good mystery, but damn. The gore got to me, and I mean really got to me. There were plenty of graphic descriptions on the removal of body parts while the “victim” was still alive. Gore does not typically make me queasy, but I was starting to question my sanity as I read because I could picture it so vividly.

There were only two small problems I had with the story, and unironically, it had nothing to do with the graphic dismembering of bodies (I am losing my mind, aren’t I). One, the word “so” was used a helluva lot during conversation. Gravel’s son used it in multiple sentences on a single page. Granted, a lot of us use “so” to begin their sentence, but seeing it written back-to-back like that made me realize how annoying it can be. The other was Rebecca. Now, Rebecca is meant to be insane, and I mean clinically mental. She deserves to be after what she went through as a child, but hello, crazy lady. Rebecca talked to herself, a lot. Which is fine because that is how she is. But the rants she went through were repetitive which turned out to be entirely obnoxious. There were times where I thought, “Yes, I get it, and so does he. Please, wrap it up already.” Rebecca played mentally unstable very well. Props to you, Mr. Nicholl, you wrote a hell of a character!

Even though I mentioned it above, I feel like I need to mention it again. This book kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved it and cannot wait to get hold of the first book in the series, Portraits of the Dead and book three. Chances are, I will probably read them in order this time, haha!

Thank you to NetGalley for this review copy!
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My Review: 5/5

Another great book by John Nicholl! Before I Met Him is the author’s most recent book featuring Detective Inspector Gravel (Grav) and crimes that take the top bill for the most gruesome yet.

This book is different from his previous books. Yes, there is a mystery that Grav and his team are trying to solve, but it is also more personal. In Before I Met Him we learn more about Grav, his past, and the more personal side of him. I tell you what, I loved it! Grav is as hard as they come, but underneath the gruff is a huge teddy bear still dealing with his wife’s death.

The crimes in this book are also different from previous books. The perpetrator is female…capable of unbelievable acts.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Mr. Nicholl is one of my favorite crime authors. This book had me hooked from the beginning and throughout the entire book. If you enjoy crime fiction, you have to pick this one up!
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Before I Met Him by John Nicholl is the second book featuring DI Gravel (Grav) of West Wales Police and what a brilliant book it is.Rebacca was sexually abused as a child and the abuser never never brought to trial due to lack of evidence much to the despair of Rebecca,her and family and DS Grave,the story then moves on and Rebacca is now 23 and still looking for revenge and poses as a child online to attract other abusers and lure them to there deaths and ensure they can’t abuse again.Body parts are found in a bag by the river by a local doctor out walking her dog and on the discovery that they are not all parts of the same body Gravel now a DI is called back from his holiday to investigate the killings.I have seen this book described as a dark,chilling psychological thriller and would certainly agree and isn’t a book for the faint hearted but is still a brilliant read as horrifying as it is and must have been for the young victims these people have abused,I think DI Gravel has some sympathy for Rebecca and can understand some of the reasons for what she has done.This is the second book I have read from this author and certainly won’t be my last
I would like to thank Netgalley and Bloodhound Books for the copy of Before I Met Him.
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When Rebecca Smith is six years old she is abused by her ballet instructor. He is never prosecuted but Rebecca is not about to let the abuse go. Detective Inspector Gareth Gravel, Grav feels like he let Rebecca down. Rebecca is now twenty three and taking out her justice on those that abuse kids. Grav is on a mandatory vacation when body parts are found on a beach. Then more start showing up. It is going to be up to Grav to find the killer. 

This is a dark, dirty thriller. There are some well written scenes that could bother some people. Of course I ate this book up. I feel horrible for Rebecca yet I comment her on taking care of the child abusers. I understood why she goes on the hunt and although wrong, it’s hard to fault her. 

Grav is a rough, hard detective that I think of as an upset porcupine. His is bristles and bark but he knows his job and is really good at it. But what is he up against with Rebecca working on the force and deleting crucial evidence. This is a gruesome game of cat and mouse that is hard to simply say Rebecca did it punish her. Sometime a vigilante is needed, the key is how far they take it.

I loved this story. It’s my kind of book, dark and gritty. This is my first book from John Nicholl but it will not be my last. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
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A super creepy thriller involving a woman with an abused past. Not so my Genre. Good writing and a great Title to keep people guessing till the last moment.
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this book was incredibly dark, disturbing and gruesome; and yet it turned out to be quite thought provoking for me.
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I really enjoyed the previous book by this author. However, thos one felt like a left down. It got very violent and gruesome for not reason for w chapter and then died down again.

This book just didn't do much for me to be honest.
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There are no secrets in this book. From the beginning you will know why the murders are taking place and by the second chapter who the murderer is but don’t think for a moment that the story is over. Rebecca was only six when a man who was in a position of trust took her innocence and walked away from his crimes without serving one day in prison. Seventeen years later Rebecca is on a mission to find him but in the mean time she is trying to keep other children safe and ease her own pain some way.

Cor blimey this is scary stuff, if the creeps on the internet aren’t making my skin crawl and giving me goose bumps, then Rebecca is with her new and weird decorating skills. Talk about the preparation being the key to any project, well I would give Rebecca a Blue Peter Badge any day of the week for her black bag and sticky tape skills! This is one organised intelligent and critically damaged young woman. Just one careless mistake would make life difficult before she had completed mission.

If you have read John Nicholl’s books before you already know you are in for a dark and deadly gruesome read. The murders that take place are very torturous and descriptive and leave you with a part of a poem floating round into your head for days. He knows how to play with your mind. Yes ok this is what any sane person would say they wanted to do to these men but any sane person wouldn’t.

You really don’t know who to cheer on, Rebecca or the police. Just loved that the young copper that dealt with the case when she was a child is still in the force. It makes for a cracking story line itself. A super stand alone read.
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This is the kind of book that pulls you in from the first page and then its fast-paced ride to the end. It's a dark and gritty police procedural. The author did an amazing job with the characterizations, dialogue and descriptions. I had a hard time putting this book down. 
This book continues with DI Gravel. He's a disturbed, flawed character with a lot of bad habits, making him more interesting. The story is told from three different character viewpoints. In this case, somebody is carving up men and dumping their body parts into the river. After investigations begin it is suggested that these are pedophiles being targeted. The killer turns out to be a victim and is luring predators to her to find justice. What I found interesting about the story is the way I came to sympathize with Rebecca and found myself rooting for her.  
It is apparent that the author has researched serial killers and pedophiles, as evidenced by the scenes he depicts. I highly recommend this book. Thank you NetGalley for allowing me an ARC.
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My first DI Gravel book, and I consider myself a fan. I need to read the previous two, as there is quite a bit of obvious history to this guy that is referred to during the reading of this book, but it in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this story in its own right. 
DI Gravel, is haunted by the one that got away seventeen years earlier when he was a DS, and six-year old Rebecca and her family did not get justice when the case was thrown out of court due to lack of sufficient evidence, and the accused is set free to offend again. 
Rebecca at age twenty-three, works for the police, but her main mission in life is entrapment of child sex-offenders and bringing them to her own style of justice, which is not for the faint-hearted. 
It only took a couple of days to read this book and I could of happily read it in just one.
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