Thursday, December 17, 2015
The Widow by Fiona Barton
3.0 out of 5 stars -- "How much do the wives of the men who commit terrible crimes actually know?"
The synopsis by the publisher gives an overview explaining that Jean Taylor, wife of Glen, is finally going to tell her story -- she's going to tell a journalist the secrets that lie behind the disappearance of a little toddler, Bella Elliott. Glen was accused of kidnapping and murder in this crime, but now it is 4 years later and Glen has died -- leaving Jean free to tell her own version of the truth. The problem is -- are her memories accurate or is she twisting things a bit to exculpate herself from any responsibility. What did she know, and when did she know?
I sort of felt let down by the revelations from Jean in this case. She's the typical unreliable narrator -- a stock character that seems to be all the rage of late (hence comparisons to GIRL ON THE TRAIN and other similar novels). She's not particularly likable, and seems to be devoid of personality. Perhaps the result of living with Glen? The turmoil of the publicity and subsequent outcry has left her mostly alone with her thoughts and memories. When she opens up to Kate, she actually shares very little and the reader is left with few details, an incomplete picture of the crime and only a bit of a sense of resolution.
This is a debut novel, and the writing is good so I'll look for future books by this author. Frankly, however, I'm tired of meandering narration and too many points of view, especially when the main storytellers aren't forthcoming. I guess I prefer a more tightly plotted thriller with lots of suspense than a psychological study. I can't call this a thriller and there was no suspense here -- just questions and some frustration at the lack of transparency. There are no twists or startling revelations as we limp to the predictable conclusion.
Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group NAL for the e-book ARC to review.