This debut novel, has been touted as 'a must read' for fans of “Gone Girl” or “Girl on a Train.” While I certainly understand why those comparisons have been made, I would suggest reading the book with as few preconceived notions as possible.
So, let’s start from scratch. “The Widow" is a sensational, atmospheric tale that explores the lures of online sex and porn addiction, especially that of child pornography. This subject matter is distressing, but the author handles it without overly graphic descriptions.
The other area where the author really gets it right, is in regards to the way the press makes stars out of victims, which in this case, is Dawn, the mother of the missing girl, and even the suspects become infamous and newsworthy, famous in their own way, until the story has been squeezed dry.
To that end, the author paints lurid depiction of private chat rooms filled with pedophiles and perverts trolling for child pornography and how this addiction can lead to a far worse crime when a little girl named Bella is kidnapped.
The prime suspect in the abduction, as it turns out, is Jean Taylor’s husband, Glen. Throughout the investigation into the kidnapping, Jean stands by her man.
But, when Jean finally finds herself free of her sham of a marriage, by way of her husband's untimely death, she can finally stop covering for Glen. Will she continue to keep his dark, twisted secrets, or will she fill in the blanks, or reveal all she knows? Was Glen guilty of the child abduction and probable murder of little Bella? What does Jean know and how much will she tell?
The author does a great job of building the suspense, keeping the reader on edge, and kept me wondering if Glen is really guilty, if Jean is really that naïve, and if the detectives will ever get a break.
The underhanded, cut throat tactics the press employs to lure in the big story, the way they manage to keep a story in the headlines well past the expiration date in order to sell papers, or for television ratings, are also scrutinized, with every player falling into their clever trap, none more so than Jean.
Then we come to the missing child… is she dead or alive? Will she ever be found? Will the truth ever be revealed?
Once I finished this book, I had to let it settle in my mind for a little while. Now that I‘ve had time to reflect on it all, I believe the plot is well written and very crafty. It’s a stinging rebuke, an accurate illustration of society and its underbelly, but is also a clever mystery. The characterizations are so vivid, they are hard to accept at times, and no, you probably won’t care for most of the characters, except perhaps the detectives working the case, although they too have their foibles.
So, in conclusion, I would strongly urge those fans of suspense and psychological thrillers, to approach this book with an open mind, and allow it to stand on its own merits, which it is quite capable of doing without further comparisons.
Stick with it from start to finish, even if there are times when struggle with the characters, or the uncomfortable subject matter, or you feel yourself being put off by the press.
Once you have finished the book, ruminate on it a bit before forming a full opinion. I think once you have truly digested it all, you will see what a truly impressive novel this really is.
For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.
When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen...
But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.
There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.
Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.
The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…