I received this book for free from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Widow by Fiona Barton
Published by NAL on February 16th 2016
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Format: Electronic ARC
Source: First to Read
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Everyone was very kind and trying to stop me from seeing his body, but I couldn’t tell them I was glad he was gone. No more of his nonsense.
2.5 Stars Glen Taylor is out shopping with his wife Jean when he suddenly falls in front of a moving bus and is instantly killed. Bystanders comfort Jean, but truthfully she is relieved. The police and media are eager to talk to Jean after her husband’s death, but it turns out this isn’t the first time Jean has crossed paths with these people. For three years, her husband had been the main suspect in a very public kidnapping case. Was Glen guilty or was he a victim himself? Was his death an accident or murder?
No one wanted to know us now. They just wanted to know about us.
This book deals with crimes against children, but it is not graphic. It was really more about the secrets in a marriage and news media sensationalism than the crime itself. The clearly labeled chapters alternate between:
• The Widow – Jean Taylor.
• The Detective – DI Bob Sparkes, a dedicated detective who becomes obsessed with the case.
• The Reporter – Kate Waters, a charismatic investigative reporter who uses emotional manipulation to score coveted interviews.
• Plus, a few cameos from some of the supporting characters.
It also goes back and forth in time in two sections: the events following two-year-old Bella Elliot’s disappearance on October 2, 2006 and the events following Gene’s death on May 14, 2010.
And then there he was. Glen Taylor. He looks like the bloke next door was Sparkes’s ﬁrst thought. But then monsters rarely look the part. You hope you’ll be able to see the evil shining out of them—it would make police work a damned sight easier, he often said. But evil was a slippery substance, glimpsed only occasionally and all the more horrifying for that, he knew.
As facts are revealed, we learn that Jean and Glen’s relationship does not resemble a typical modern marriage. There is a strong stereotypical 1950s vibe. I kept picturing Jean as much older, even though she is in her late thirties. Glen is controlling and manipulative. Jean is submissive and comes across as a bit dull. She stands by her husband, even as the circumstantial evidence mounts against him. Their relationship was interesting and the book explores the mental hoops Jean has to jump through to continue to defend Glen in public and to remain committed to her marriage. A marked difference begins to develop between Jean’s public face and her private life, as she struggles to reconcile the new information with the man she thought she knew. I do love every time Jean says “no more of his nonsense” and I have been overusing variations of that phrase ever since I read this book!
I think I know, but really, I don’t know anything about this man that I’ve lived with all these years. He’s a stranger, but we’re bound together tighter than we’ve ever been. He knows me. He knows my weakness…I know that I caused all this trouble with my obsession.
The Widow was entertaining enough on a surface level, but I was never really excited about it. Everything between the first and last chapter felt so slow. I’ve grown really impatient with books where there is a slow leak of information from an informed character. The constant switching between characters and time periods add to that frustration. The Widow’s chapters were actually my least favorite, because of the dithering about revealing more information. I felt the same way about The Reporter’s chapters when the focus was on Jean. The Detective’s chapters were my favorite because that was when the story felt like it was moving forward. I liked The Reporter’s chapters best when the focus was on the media manipulations of their interview subjects and readers.
It was journalism at its most powerful, hammering home the message with a mallet, inciting reaction, and the readers responded. The comment sections on the website were ﬁlled with unthinking, screaming vitriol, foulmouthed opinion, and calls for the death penalty to be reinstated. “The usual nutters,” the news editor summed up in morning conference. “But lots of them.” “Let’s show a bit of respect for our readers,” the editor said. And they all laughed.
If you like this book, you might also be interested in What She Knew.