Before She Wakes

Too much tell instead of show. Book three in a series and not enough trust that the character’s motives will become clear without unwieldy information dumps.

Book title

Before She Wakes


Ed James

Standalone or series?

Book 3 in the Detective Max Carter series. I haven’t read the previous two.

First time reading this author?


Why I picked this

The cover and description looked interesting. The idea that her teenage daughter had disappeared while her mother slept seemed like it had a lot of potential.

Review copy or purchase

Review copy via publisher Bookouture and NetGalley UK in exchange for an honest review.

What it’s about

Single mother Marissa Bukowski wakes up feeling that something is wrong. There’s no response from her daughter Olivia’s room when she goes to wake her up. Her phone and clothes are in her room, but the mirror is cracked and a message in read reads ‘Never Forget’. FBI special agent, and missing child specialist, Max Carter is called in to investigate.


The premise is solid, unfortunately it’s let down by the delivery. When 15-year-old Olivia goes missing special agent Max Carter realises that there could be a number of suspects. Her grandfather is desperate for a donor for his daughter, and he found out that Olivia is a match – against her mother’s wishes. Olivia could have been taken as revenge for her missing-presumed-dead father’s drug debts, or it could be her mum’s new boyfriend who might have been a bit too interested in Olivia’s life.

The problem is that book jumps around between these options too haphazardly for me to ever get invested in any of them as a solution. On top of that the author is very guilty of telling the reader things instead of showing them. The result is some really off-putting info dumps to explain the background of the lead detective. I get that it’s difficult when you’re writing a series. You want to allow readers to drop in at any book in the series and still understand what’s going on, while also being respectful to the readers who’ve come on this journey with you in chronological author. However, there are plenty of authors out there who manage this very well – this book is not a good example of it. Delivery on the background information is very heavy-handed and I felt like I was being told what to think about a character instead of giving me the time to get to know them myself.

Clunky writing and plotting means this is a no from me.


Rating: 2 out of 5.

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