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Sunday, December 13, 2015


5 stars out of 5

This is nothing short of a wicked good book. That said, though, I'm having a tough time calling it a "psychological thriller" as advertised. Yes, there's plenty of psychological stuff going on - and yes, the story is so gripping that it was an almost impossible book for me to put down - but it certainly didn't keep me on the edge of my recliner biting my nails.

It is, ultimately, an inside/outside look at the evolution of a codependent, dysfunctional married couple as seen through the eyes of Jean Taylor, the widow, plus police investigator Bob Sparkes, Kate Waters, a reporter, and single mother Dawn Elliot. As the story builds, the chapters shift to and from the various perspectives (a technique that's exceptionally well done here, IMHO). 

At the start, it's 2010 in London and Jean has just watched her husband, Glen, die after being hit by a bus. Four years earlier, Glen was accused of kidnapping and murdering Bella, Dawn's young daughter. Although he wasn't found guilty, he - and his wife Jean - since have become the targets of vicious media attacks. Enter Kate, who's out to land the real story by hook, crook or whatever else it takes. Almost behind the scenes, the detective - who led the original investigation - is trying his best to prove his fervent belief that Glen is guilty as charged.

From the get-go, it's pretty clear that Glen is at best no innocent bystander; nonetheless, his wife is vehement in her belief that he did nothing wrong (Tammy Wynette would be proud). As the story moves along, it is almost remarkable to watch the changes in all the characters as new details are revealed from past and present investigations and recollections from the characters themselves. That progression, in fact, is the real story here - and the writing of it is superbly crafted.

Oh yes - a couple of extraneous tidbits: If it's London, apparently every situation calls for tea. But beans on toast? Seriously? Kidding aside, I highly recommend this book and thank the publisher, via NetGalley, for providing me with an advance copy for review. It's a winner!

The Widow by Fiona Barton (Penguin Grouop USA LLC, February 2015); 336 pp.

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