Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Widow

Title:  The Widow
Author:  Fiona Barton
Publication Information:  NAL. 2016. 336 pages.
ISBN:  1101990260 / 978-1101990261

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I can hear the sound of her crunching up the path."

Favorite Quote:  "I fiddled with the GPS and marked this place 'home.' I wasn't sure why, but it felt right."

Greg Taylor is dead in an accident. His widow, Jean or Jeanie, is devastated. Or is she? A shadow hangs over the couple bringing the press and the police to Jean's door again. The shadow is not new; nor is the presence of press or police. Jean has been through it all before. This time because Greg is dead. Before because of an unsolved crime committed three years ago.

Three years ago, three year old Bella disappeared from her garden. Bella went out beyond her mother Dawn's sight and disappeared. The case was never solved. Bob Sparkes, the Detective, has been on the case since then. Kate, the Reporter, follows the story still. Three years have gone by, and no one has been convicted of the crime.

How does this crime link to Jean and Greg Taylor? Why? What will Jean do now that Greg is dead? What truth will emerge?

This is the story the book tells. It starts when Greg dies. It goes into the past through the Taylor's marriage and Bella's disappearance, gradually bringing the reader forward to the point when the past and present meet.

The intrigue of the book of course is what happened to Bella and what does Jean know. The story comes out in short chapters titled with a date and a character - the Widow, the Mother, the Reporter, and the Detective. Pay attention to the dates as it is important to understand where in the story line you are.

The book's publicity compares the book to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Unfortunately, in this case, the publicity does the book a disservice. This book is an entertaining read on its own, but does not compare to the characters and intensity of the other two. The books are all about couples and the dynamics of relationships. All the characters are rather unlikable and unreliable narrators. This book just seems less dynamic and vibrant than the other two.

One reason, perhaps, is that Greg, one half of the couple in this book, seems not quite present in the book. Of course, the book starts with his death, but even going back into the past, he doesn't quite become real. The book describes him through Jean's eyes, through the eyes of the detective, and through what is revealed about him. However, he still seems a placeholder in the book rather than a developed character.

The other reason is the character of Jean herself. She is not a likable character. However, he is not a villainous character either. She comes across as a little bit nondescript. Perhaps that is to convey the result of the emotional stresses she is under. Unfortunately, the result is that I find myself neither cheering her on nor waiting for her to be found out. Considering she is The Widow and the anchor for the book, this makes the entire book less engaging.

With less than engaging characters, I waited for a plot twist to add suspense or drama to this book marketed as a thriller. The "big reveal" when it comes in neither big not particularly revealing. It falls a little flat.

The issue may lie in the marketing of the book for it does not match its publicity. The book is entertaining and a quick read. Just not the suspenseful thriller I was expecting.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment