Rena Olsen grew up moving around every few years, following her minister father from church to church, and her exposure to so many different people and environments sparked an interest in human nature. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in marriage and family therapy. A licensed therapist, she works in Des Moines, Iowa.
Praise for The Girl Before "Gripping...A powerful, moving debut by therapist Olsen in which cruelty is counterbalanced by compassion and love."--Booklist (starred review) "Easily the most disturbing and unsettling book I have read this year. . . . As in the best suspense novels, there are mysteries within mysteries, and all is not what it seems--not to Clara, and definitely not to the reader."--BookPage, A Best Mystery of 2016 "[A] thoughtful look at victims and perpetrators and the difficulties that arise for someone who is both at once. .... [The Girl Before] moves at the pace of a mystery, but the novel is strongest when it allows Clara to unpack her past and consider who she will be going forward. A moving story of recovery and responsibility."--Kirkus Reviews "I couldn't put it down. The novel is compelling, perplexing, and ultimately uplifting! The unusual structure is a perfect match for the magnetic voice of the central character. I predict this daring debut will make Rena Olsen "the girl ahead" among psychological suspense authors."--Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Upon a Winter's Night "A disturbing story, haunting and important."--Alexandra Burt, author of Remember Mia "Daring, harrowing and absolutely riveting."--Sandra Block, author of Little Black Lies