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The Hours Before Dawn

Louise would give anything – anything – for a good night’s sleep. Forget the girls running errant in the garden and bothering the neighbours. Forget her husband who seems oblivious to it all. If the baby would just stop crying, everything would be fine.

Or would it? What if Louise’s growing fears about the family’s new lodger, who seems to share all of her husband’s interests, are real? What could she do, and would anyone even believe her? Maybe, if she could get just get some rest, she’d be able to think straight . . .



‘This sharp, tense, clever novel, still readable and relevant all these years later, is a testament to changing social attitudes.’ The Literary Review

‘[T]he grandmother of psycho-domestic noir.’The Times

‘A lost masterpiece which should be the next book up for everyone devouring the current crop of domestic psychological suspense. Celia Fremlin builds an atmosphere of slowly-mounting dread in which an ordinary, overtired housewife begins to suspect that a monster is lurking in her house. It chilled me to the core.’ – Peter Swanson, author of The Kind Worth Killing and Her Every Fear

‘The Hours Before Dawn is a psychological thriller whose setting and protagonist will still be relevant and interesting to women readers of today…Fremlin accurately observes the structures and strictures of traditional family life…such sharply observed characters are found only in the best mystery fiction. A funny, down-to-earth, yet gripping and compulsively readable thriller.’ –  New Woman

‘Admirable and breathtaking.’ – Anthony Boucher

‘[A] Uniquely horrifying mystery…the book is superb.’ – New York Herald Tribune

‘A popular theme is turned backwards here for a beautifully worked surprise, the characters are very well done (the minor ones being particularly horrible) and the background so painfully real that the story comes almost too close to home.’ – San Francisco Chronicle

Born in Kent, Celia Fremlin (1914-2009) went on to read classics and then philosophy at Somerville College, Oxford. She married...