When you start out reading a YA author and they make the transition to adult fiction, it can be weird. But Cooney managed to keep everything I loved about her style intact while graduating to a surprisingly edgy adult thriller. I liked that the heroine was older (in her seventies), as a lot of mysteries usually feature characters who are in the 20-40 age range. I also thought her past was SO sad (major triggers there, but they're spoilers so I don't really want to go into detail; abuse is involved). I actually wasn't expecting this book to be as dark as it was, so that really took me off guard.
I liked BEFORE SHE WAS HELEN. The fact that it was set in a retirement community was novel and gave it a sort of small village feel, which is one of the things I love about British mysteries. There were a lot of characters to keep track of and I am still not entirely sure I managed to sort out who was who by the end, but it's a really great plot, even though the ending lacked the closure I wanted (if you read the book, you'll understand what I mean-- would it really hurt to have had an epilogue??). I'll definitely be checking out any more adult mysteries she writes, though!
3.5 out of 5 stars