The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press

Before He Finds Her

by Michael Kardos

“Brilliant. Before He Finds Her is one of the most innovative and compelling thrillers to come along in recent years. Read the first page and kiss the next twenty-four hours goodbye. Bravo!” —Jeffery Deaver, internationally bestselling author of The Skin Collector

  • Imprint The Mysterious Press
  • Page Count 384
  • Publication Date February 09, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2470-8
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $14.00
  • Imprint The Mysterious Press
  • Page Count 384
  • Publication Date February 03, 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2319-0
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $25.00

About The Book

Everyone in the quiet Jersey Shore town of Silver Bay knows the story: on a Sunday evening in September 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a blowout block party, then murdered his beautiful wife and three-year-old daughter.

But everyone is wrong. The daughter got away. Now she is nearly eighteen and tired of living in secrecy. Under the name Melanie Denison, she has spent the last fifteen years in small-town West Virginia as part of the Witness Protection Program. She has never been allowed to travel, go to a school dance, or even have Internet at home. Precautions must be taken at every turn, because Ramsey Miller was never caught and might still be looking for his daughter. Yet despite strict house rules, Melanie has entered into a relationship with a young teacher at the local high school and is now ten weeks pregnant. She doesn’t want her child to live in hiding as she has had to. Defying her guardians and taking matters into her own hands, Melanie returns to Silver Bay in hopes of doing what the authorities have failed to do: find her father before he finds her. Weaving in Ramsey’s story in the three days leading up to the brutal crime, Before He Finds Her is a stirring novel about love and faith and fear—and how the most important things can become terribly distorted when we cling to them too fiercely.


“There’s always a creep factor in psychological suspense novels, and it makes itself felt right at the outset of Michael Kardos’s Before He Finds Her, a well-crafted woman-in-peril narrative with an uncommon premise and an ending you don’t see coming.” —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

Before He Finds Her is that rare thing, a novel as human as it is suspenseful, as patient as it is thrilling, as genuine as it is surprising. With strong, compelling prose, Michael Kardos paints a tale of fear and redemption, of anguish and hopefulness, of subtle corruption and good intentions gone awry. In doing so, he maps the human heart in all its complex glory.” —Gregg Hurwitz, New York Times bestselling author of Don’t Look Back

“Brilliant. Before He Finds Her is one of the most innovative and compelling thrillers to come along in recent years. Read the first page and kiss the next 24 hours goodbye. Bravo!” —Jeffery Deaver, internationally bestselling author of The Skin Collector

“Kardos delivers another outstanding crime thriller with this complex and moving account of a young woman trying to make sense of her past and craft a viable future. . . . Sophisticated characterizations enhance the intricately constructed story line.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A gripping literary thriller.” —Dispatch (Columbus, MS)

“Suspenseful, fast-paced and why they invented the term ‘nail-biter.’” —Lois Alter Mark, Huffington Post, “10 Must-read Books for Spring”

“An engrossing tale. . . . Masterful storytelling. . . . First-class fiction about fear, love and lies. Highly recommended.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A very strong sophomore effort . . . A compelling and layered story about truth and lies, and love and loss.” —School Library Journal

“It’s the clever ways in which the truth is revealed—gradually, tantalizingly, through the actions of characters we thought were dead—that the book generates its considerable appeal.” —Toronto Star

“[An] exhilarating tale of crime and high tension.” —Jana Hoops, Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS)

“Enjoyable.” —Missourian

“Terrific . . . a white-knuckle thriller that burns with urgency . . . Before He Finds Her is a master class in pacing and balancing multiple viewpoints, and it’s full of raw tension. Even when the story is simmering, it feels like it’s buzzing at a full-on boil . . . It’s a book that pulses with energy and truth, one that will stay with me for a long time.” —William Boyle, Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS)

“Suspenseful . . . An edge-of-your-airplane-seat thriller . . . If you like authors like Harlan Coben or Mary Higgins Clark, give this book a try.” —Hibbing Public Library (Minnesota)

“Utterly compelling, innovative and packed with beautifully drawn characters, Michael Kardos’ second thriller propels him into the front rank of contemporary American thriller writers.” —Independent (Ireland)

“Even the most astute readers may be surprised by Kardos’s satisfyingly twisted plot.” —Strand Magazine

“Probing the complex psychology of his characters, Kardos investigates a fundamental question: Can people really change? Filled with characters who have gone down dangerous paths, [Before He Finds Her] explores relationships distorted by blind faith.” —Princeton Alumni Weekly

“Kardos peels back layers and makes revelations, page by page . . . Before He Finds Her proves that a work of suspense need not be gory, bloody, or pushed by threats of explosion—the power of the past and the tenderness of the unfolding present make this a very unusual page-turner. And as for Melanie . . . what she’s risking and daring is simply . . . amazing.” —Kingdom Books


Not a fucking word,” came a man’s voice behind her, low and breathy.

Her wrists were suddenly clamped in his hands, and his body—it was definitely a he—pressed against her from behind, crushing her against the door, against the sharp doorknob. She couldn’t move and didn’t dare to, couldn’t see anything besides the white door in front of her.

She tried to catch her breath but could only gasp.

“Drop all this.” So soft, his voice, lips grazing her ear. “Go away and never come back—or you’re so fucking dead.” He pressed her even harder into the door—forcing a grunt from her. “Now count to fifty before turning around. And don’t rush it.”

She felt her wrists being released. The weight against her body removed. She wanted to drop down to the carpet but willed her legs to keep supporting her. She heard the man running toward the end of the building, toward the exit.

Pain in her stomach, from the doorknob.

Bruised, for sure. She wasn’t counting to fifty. She was thinking: My baby. And as the man neared the exit, she turned her head. She had to. It might be the only time she ever saw her father.

Reading Group Guide

1. To what extent does Melanie Denison, despite her unusual upbringing, seem like an ordinary seventeen-year-old? To what extent does she seem older—or younger—than her actual age?

2. How do your sympathies for the main characters change over the course of the novel?

3. One of the novel’s epigraphs, by Sherwood Anderson, begins, “It was the truths that made the people grotesques.” What does the novel suggest might be some of the damaging effects in holding on to unwavering beliefs? What are some “truths” that different characters in the novel hold on to?

4. In what ways does the town of Silver Bay conform—or not—to your own sense of the Jersey Shore? What impression of the Jersey Shore does the novel make?

5. How would you characterize the marriage between Ramsey and Allison Miller? How does it change over time? Do you know couples who relate to each other the way that they do?

6. When she first goes on the road, Melanie experiences the high of driving much as Ramsey once did. (“If there was a better feeling than being behind the wheel, chugging along an open road on a sunny morning, she couldn’t imagine what it would be,” page 111.) Do you find other similarities between father and daughter?

7. Allison Miller’s point of view doesn’t enter the novel until page 243 (chapter 18). Why do you think the author might have chosen to wait so long to introduce it? Why include it at all?

8. What about David Magruder’s personality do you think led him to become a weatherman? What are some of the ways that weather plays a role in this novel?

9. Despite having very different personalities from each other, Eric Pace and Ramsey Miller become fast friends. What does each man see in the other? How do they complement each other?

10. Why does Ramsey believe it’s so important for him to host the block party? What does he hope to achieve?

11. To what extent does Ramsey fear that doomsday is coming? To what extent does he long for it?

12. Part Two of the novel begins, “His was a love story, though the love came later.” To what degree is Before He Finds Her a story about love?

13. William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” How might this quote apply to Before He Finds Her?

14. Arthur Goodale’s final blog post is centered on the idea of being wrong. Do you find yourself agreeing with him (and with the quoted passage from American Pastoral), that being wrong is “how we know we’re alive” (page 357)?

15. In his final blog post, Arthur Goodale reminds his followers, “Don’t believe everything you read” (page 360). In what ways does his advice have thematic significance?

16. What about the novel did you find most surprising?

17. Okay—go for it: Who should play these people in the movie?