Page Count 256
Publication date October 2019/ Publisher Flame Tree Press
An idyllic weekend camping trip is cut short when Reese Wallace’s friends are brutally murdered. As the group’s only survivor, Reese is the prime suspect, and his story doesn’t make much sense. A disembodied voice warning him to leave the campground the night before? A strange, blackened tree that gave him an electric shock when he cut it down for firewood?
Detective Greyeyes isn’t having any of it―until she hears the voice herself and finds an arrowhead at the crime scene―an arrowhead she can’t get rid of. Troubling visions of a doomed Native American tribe who once called the campground home, and rumors of cursed land and a mythical beast plague the strangest murder case she’s ever been a part of.
Those Who Came Before jumps straight into action. I found the opening cast of characters mostly unlikeable, with the exception of easygoing Dan. As you know from the synopsis their all about to be massacred anyway so that was for the best really!
The plot switches between present day and the past with main characters Reese, the sole survivor of the campsite killing and investigating detective Maria Greyeyes.
Reese was a very candid main character, albeit an extreme stereotype.
I had to roll my eyes at his continuous acknowledgement of his own bias though- It’s not character development if they have the same repeated revelation but never change their attitude as a result.
In fact I didnt find much character development if any in this book, but not to its detriment. Those Who Came Before is driven by action, making it a fun and interesting read. For a title of this length I wouldn’t expect to find long character arcs and I’m glad they were absent rather than forced.
During Maria’s investigation she is led to question Chief Kinewa and learn of the superstitious beliefs on his reservation.
A scary, supernatural twist enables her to relive the history of the native indigenous tribe of Strong Lake. Dreamlike visions show her the settlements history through the eyes of Little Dove, the young kind-hearted daughter of the chief tribesman.
The terrible feud between white settlers and the natives breeds a curse that will span time and continue to punish all who set foot on the land.
Those who don’t belong will be brutally and inescapably punished.
The plot hurtles along at pace from beginning to end with no page wasted.
At points the story switched from present to past or from reality to dream with a little less fluidity than I’d like. This I could probably attribute to the Netgalley copy I received, hopefully it will be more discernable on paper and perhaps the ebook format will be adjusted for official release.
Mostly a new chapter, new page or *** denoted the change in perspective, but on two or three occasions the switch mid page between one sentence and the next threw me off balance.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Those Who Came Before, I don’t want to spoil anything so I will just say- the familiar folklore used as the vessel of evil and violence in this book is fantastically written. It’s origin, description and behaviour were some of my favourite scenes.
I can’t wait to read more from Moncrieff!
*I received my copy of Those Who Came Before from Flame Tree Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.