First and foremost, we must consider the fact that Brenda Novak would
never write a crime novel that easy to decipher and solve. So even
though she is throwing facts and clues at us remember these are not
random. They are deliberate so pay attention. Brenda Novak makes you
wait for that ah-ha moment and that has never been clearer than in BEFORE WE WERE STRANGERS.
Sloane and her brother Randy basically grew up without a mother who
went missing when they were very young. Clara was simply missing.
For some odd reason, her disappearance did not make many waves. It
seemed to be widely accepted which made it all the more odd, eerie
and needless to say strange.
Sloane was five and all she can remember about the night Clara went
missing are some disjointed noises and pieces of a puzzle that were
confounding, to say the least. At eighteen, Sloane left Millcreek never
to return. Her suspicions about her father's role in Clara's
disappearance had reached the point that she herself feared the man.
Ed McBride had always been ambitious and ruthless but was he also
capable of murder. It was widely known you don't cross Ed.
Moving to New York ultimately pursuing a successful modeling career
and meeting Clyde saved Sloane. With Clyde's death Sloan once again
felt adrift and knew she couldn't continue not knowing if her suspicions
were correct -- her mother deserved it. She owed it to her loving
mother to find out what happened that night...
Returning to Millcreek was filled with problems. No one there would be
welcoming. As far as Sloane knew only her old friend Paige was glad to
see her offering a place to stay when other options slammed in her
face. Millcrest was not happy to see Sloane McBride return and the list
of folks that either turn their backs or outright warn her to leave grows
with each day.
But Paige and Sloane have a history that makes any return to anything
even remotely resembling friendship questionable at best. Paige is now
divorced from Micah, the young man and love Sloane left behind, and
they have a young son, Trevor. Paige has been weaponizing Trevor
against Micah and to this day, Paige holds Sloane responsible for the
demise of her marriage. Micah never got over the loss of his first love,
Sloane. Paige had to be happy with the crumbs, so to speak. Paige is
truly torn between missing her best friend and despising her. The
number of people that seem guilty just keep growing. All sorts of
stories are told to Sloane and most point to her father. But without
evidence, there is no crime to investigate. Hearsay doesn't count.
Sloane needs concrete evidence even if it ultimately does support the
guilt of her own father. With few, if any folk legitimately supporting
Sloane's search the only person who seems willing to help is -- you
guess it: Micah. And Micah is the one person that Sloane does not want
to drag into this problem. He definitely has his own issues to resolve.
So BEFORE WE WERE
STRANGERS is quite a study of small towns, small minds but long
memories and revenge. Brenda Novak draws a picture that isn't really
that pretty. BEFORE WE WERE
STRANGERS pits one person against an entire town. That is until
the fabric of that town starts unraveling before our very eyes.
Something happened to her mother that night.
Something no one wants to talk about. But she’s determined
to uncover her family’s dark secrets, even if they bury
Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn’t
sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their
harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was
that other sound—the ominous thump before all went
In the morning, her mother was
The official story was that she left. Her
loving, devoted mother! That hadn’t sat any better at the
time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious
to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere
else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New
York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the
domineering father she grew up with wasn’t just difficult—he
Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane
to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth,
even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets
and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend and a father and brother
who’d rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging
into the past, the question isn’t whether she can uncover
what really happened that night…it’s what will remain of her
family if she does?