Before You Knew My Name

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Title: Before You Knew My Name

Writer: Jacqueline Bublitz

Publishing House: Allen & Unwin

Date of Publication: May 4th 2021

Rating: 4 stars

‘’Maybe the people who appear brave are merely doing the thing they have to do. It’s not a matter of courage, then, to pack up and leave a life. Just a lack of any other option, and the sudden realisation you probably don’t have anything left to lose.’’

A young woman comes to New York, leaving family tragedies and love troubles behind. The same choice is made by an Australian woman, perplexed by a relationship that leads nowhere. Both believe that the Big Apple is the land of second chances, the place to close the book and start another. No one could have imagined that a murder will unite them in the most tragic and definite way. New York is the City that Never Sleeps but what may happen to the ones who share her vigil?

‘’I’m about to happen to her.’’

I don’t read Thrillers. At all. They give me no literary, mental or cultural satisfaction, and apart from British classic gems of the genre, I have no interest in finding out ‘’who has done it.’’ But I have a terribly soft spot for New York and Bublitz’s novel is far from a ‘’simple’’ thriller. It is a Literary/Psychological Mystery at its best. A journey to New York, its shiny rooftops, its cozy corners, its dark alleys and the rocks by the Hudson. It is a testimony to the dangers that surround women every step of the way, it is a cry for all of us who are afraid to walk alone in the dark, to dress as we see fit, who change wagons in trains, who avoid buses because there will always be men who are vultures, monsters lurking and waiting to satisfy their abominable hunger for control and destruction. It is a voice against the anonymity that escorts thousands of victims around the world, women that no one ever cared about, a multitude of rapes and murders that have gone undiscovered, unsolved, unpunished.

Although I could do without Ruby’s constant pining for an idiot, I understand that love (or what some call ‘Love’) is a powerful force that can lead us to strange choices. Who knows what is in store for us? Apart from those moments of sentimentality, this novel must be read by women and men as the need for change permeates every page. New York, hope and the scream for justice are the true characters of the story and they do not disappoint.

‘’Do you know how aware we have to be? Girls like me. The man ahead who slows down, who disappears into doorways. The man close behind who walks too fast, his encroachment felt on your skin, creeping. Vans with dark windows and streets with alley ways. A park at dusk, or empty lots, eerie, any old time of the day.’’