by Fiona Barton
People are going nuts for The Widow and for good reason. It’s a psychological thriller in the same vein as Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and Pretty Baby, and it lives up to its much-lauded peers.
Barton writes her mystery by using negative space. Remember in art class when you had to draw a thing by shading in the all areas around it, not actually by drawing the thing itself? That’s what Barton is doing here. The crux of the mystery is the abduction of a child named Bella Elliot, but we as the readers never see the abduction like we often do in traditional mysteries. Instead we get glimpse of the story through the eyes of several key characters – namely the widow of the accused, Jean Taylor, and the detective investigating the case, Bob Sparkes. The book jumps back and forth between 2006, when Bella disappeared, and 2010, immediately after Jean’s husband dies.
Through Jean’s and Bob’s eyes we see the mystery unraveling–did Jean’s husband really take Bella or was he framed? Did she know? Was she involved somehow? Both characters are unreliable narrators because of their respective biases. There were enough twists and turns that by the time I was a third of the way into the book, I barely put it down long enough to eat and shower. And I had to know where is Bella?
I don’t want to say much more about this book because it will ruin it–that’s why I opted for a lightning review even though I could talk about the The Widow for hours. I want every reader to experience the delicious twists and turns this thriller offers.
A few notes though: the book takes place in London so expect terms like Detective Inspector and loo. It’s a bloodless thriller, but does discuss things like child pornography and pedophilia, so it won’t be for everyone. And finally, yes, we do get closure at the end. You won’t be kept wondering what really happened, but you will be eagerly awaiting Barton’s next book–The Widow is that good.
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…
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