Over one September night on their small suburban street, the neighbors of Joseph Hurka’s novel Before connect. Whether they’re strangers, acquaintances, or ultimately closest allies, the familiar residents of a street in Hurka’s Cambridge, Massachusetts, fascinate and terrify, and Hurka’s debut novel offers us the depths of their strange and secret lives.
Seventy-three-year-old Jiri Posselt and his wife, Anna, are survivors of the Nazi horror in Czechoslovakia; they have befriended a neighbor named Tika LaFond, a college student who has faced great challenges of her own. And as night descends we meet another character, a man who enters the apartments of neighborhood women when they aren’t home, taking a peculiar inventory of their lives.
We discover why this ghostly man, haunted terribly by his past, is so twisted. When he becomes increasingly violent and, in the early hours of morning, fixes his attention exclusively on Tika, it will fall to Jiri Posselt---weakened by age but an utterly determined soul---to help his young friend.
As we come to know the characters of Before through their own memories, we begin to understand their lives before terror affected them. As their lives converge, we see how good can work in the face of evil. And as they come to understand fully their own pasts in this thrilling and meticulously crafted fiction, we realize how the absolute power of knowledge and redemption can counter the true birthplaces of terror.