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The Night Before


The Night Before

Laura Lochner is hovering around 30 years old, but she already has a checkered past. Worse, she has a love life that’s a disaster. Few young ladies’ stories are anything like hers. Laura and her high school boyfriend were making out one night, when he was dragged from the car and bludgeoned to death. With no witnesses, suspicion fell on Laura, but a suspect was apprehended, convicted and put away. However, doubts lingered. Thereafter, a string of bad choices ensued. Now, with Laura’s latest breakup, she has fled her city apartment to stay with her sister Rosie and husband Joe, leaving behind a stunned roommate and a coveted Wall Street job. Once again, Laura has failed. Will she ever get it right?

In her desperation, Laura turns to a dating website. The profile of one man in particular catches her eye. He looks good, at least in theory. He is handsome, drives a nice car, is divorced and is a little older. She even likes his name: Jonathan Fields. This might work out, she decides. Laura makes a date to meet him on Thursday night. But Rosie can’t keep from worrying. She’s always been protective of Laura, especially considering her history and iffy judgment. Laura promises Rosie that she will be fine; she’ll be home at a reasonable time, guaranteed. When Friday morning comes, though, there’s no sign of Laura.

"The unrelenting suspense drives the story ever forward with a passionate urgency, making THE NIGHT BEFORE a compelling page-turner that no thriller fan should miss."

As feared, Rosie’s worst nightmare has come true. Laura’s absence throws her into a sudden panic. Knowing that her sister doesn’t deal well with rejection, Rosie is terrified that Laura might have done something rash. Could she have snapped and hurt this man? Or --- Rosie doesn’t want to think the unthinkable --- could Jonathan Fields have hurt Laura? Whatever happened, Rosie is sure that something has gone very wrong.

Laura and Rosie grew up in this town, along with Joe and their best friend, Gabe. So they know where to look and the places Laura might decide to go if she needed to escape. Rosie immediately calls on Gabe to join in their hunt. They don’t want to involve the police unless it’s absolutely necessary. That high school incident with Laura’s boyfriend was pretty notorious. Linking Laura’s name to another case with the possibility of violence could distract the cops from taking her disappearance seriously. Some things about Laura can be difficult to explain. Eventually, though, they run out of resources of their own, leaving them with no choice but to call the local cops. As they’d figured, the police have ideas that don’t necessarily parallel theirs.

Doubts and fears, secrets and crushed confidence all converge the night before and the morning after to blur what happened --- over the years of Laura’s life. Author Wendy Walker takes us on a wild ride in the search for Laura Lochner. Everything seems to be just fine, and then --- poof --- she vanishes. Where the trail leads goes back over a decade, and what it unearths shocks everyone. How is it that no one ever noticed? And why is it surfacing only now? The unrelenting suspense drives the story ever forward with a passionate urgency, making THE NIGHT BEFORE a compelling page-turner that no thriller fan should miss.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on May 17, 2019

The Night Before
by Wendy Walker