NAL – Berkley Publishing Group, February 16, 2016.
Once again, this novel is being set up as the next Gone Girl. I know the comparison does wonders to sell books, but in this case, I think it is detrimental to the reader. The Widow was not nearly twisty enough to compare to Gone Girl, and in fact, I found myself disappointed because I was expecting so much more for the ending. It’s worse than predictable, because I was predicting an amazing surprise – and it just wasn’t there.
That being said, this was still a very enjoyable read, if you aren’t led to expect a shocking ending. The psychological thrills in The Widow are more of a slow burn, with plenty of creepy innuendo and unreliable narration. Jean Taylor, the titular widow, gives us hints of her unreliability right from the start, yet her only sin is really extreme naivety. I think if her role in her husband’s crime had been more explicit, I would have found the novel more satisfying overall – but maybe I just like a tricky narrator.
In 2006, Jean’s husband Glen is accused of kidnapping a two-year-old girl, Bella, from her front yard. Bella is never found, and Glen finds a shady lawyer to help him avoid any charges – he even manages to successfully sue the police department for entrapment. In 2010, Glen is hit and killed by a bus. Again, there were all sorts of hints that his death might have been more than an accident (Jean, the wife who claimed she wanted to be rid of him, was standing right there…), yet it was never developed in the story. With her husband’s death, Jean is once again hounded by the media who want to hear the truth about Bella’s abduction, assuming she was previously lying to protect Glen. So, she decides to tell them her version of the story.
The setting moves back and forth from 2006 to 2010, and we jump between sections titled “The Detective”, “The Journalist”, “The Mother” (of Bella), and “The Widow.” I found the detective’s parts to be the most interesting, as he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl, to the detriment of his personal and professional life. Kate the journalist’s sections were good as well – she is a fully formed character who will do just about anything to get her hands on the story. The background details of the police and media in both time periods were really the redeeming sections of the book. Meanwhile, Jean’s sections were tedious and hard to read because she is in such denial of her husband’s behavior. I think I would have preferred not to have Jean’s point of view at all because it would have been much more suspenseful to be unaware of what she knew.
The Widow is certainly a great example of psychological suspense, and if that’s your genre, by all means you will enjoy this. I just felt like it could have been developed further, with a more shocking ending. Still a great read – one you can’t put down until you get to the last page.
I received this novel from Netgalley and NAL – Berkley Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.