Friday, 21 October 2016

Review of The Widow by Fiona Barton

The WidowThe Widow by Fiona Barton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m always in awe of an author who writes a psychological thriller and manages to keep a single thread going throughout the book that keeps you turning the pages. That’s how it is with The Widow, the main theme being ‘who took Bella’, the toddler who went missing and ‘how much did the prime suspect’s widow know about it’? It’s a neat hook. Not 'how did the husband die?', or the mystery of the missing child – but what happens when the ‘under-the-thumb’ widow suddenly gains a voice, now her husband (the main suspect) has gone.

It’s the voice of the book that drew me in. The prose is very easy to read, kind of ‘na├»ve’ in style with the edge of quirkiness that has a slight flavour of Belinda Bauer about it. There are three main narrators, the detective leading the investigation for the missing child, the widow and the reporter who wants to scoop the story, hoping to woo the widow into spilling the beans to seal the guilt of her deceased husband so she can grab that smash headline. There are also chapters from the point of view of the accused husband and the mother of the missing child. This shifting of perspective keeps the story alive as we see what the main players know, what they’d like to know and what they are hiding.

The widow, Jean, (with her alter-ego, Jeannie), is complex. She plays the role of the obedient and submissive wife in the flashbacks to when Glen (her husband) was alive, but there’s a calculating and passive-aggressive side to her. Hints near the start tell the reader that she’s secretly glad Glen is out of her life. ‘Me, the grieving widow. Don’t make me laugh.’ She’s got other secrets too, which gradually get revealed, although how her husband died is not really a major part of the intrigue.

In the end, there is no real twist which was a tad disappointing, but the book is compelling, full of teases and taunts, as it pulls you from one possible outcome to another. The author shares the same literary agent as me and is certainly one to watch! Definitely recommended.

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   Inside the Whispers is the latest Psychological Thriller from AJ Waines 
(and FIRST in the new Dr Samantha Willerby Series)

(The first four novels can be read in any order)

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