THE WIDOW is the debut novel from Fiona Barton. Hailed as a psychological thriller for fans of GONE GIRLl, but it isn’t, at least not in my opinion. I like Ms. Barton’s writing and maybe her next book will be an “easier” read.
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…(Synopsis from Amazon)
The history and story surrounding Bella’s abduction and subsequent investigation is revealed through four characters.
Jean ~ wife of Glen the prime suspect but no proof to tie him to Bella.
Dawn ~ Bella’s mother who tearfully pleads for her safe return.
Kate ~ a reporter who nabs the prize of interviewing both Dawn and later, Jean.
Bob ~ the lead detective who is convinced Glen is their man.
When THE WIDOW opens Glen is dead. Glen is revealed through the other character’s interactions with him, slowly and in layers.
I appreciate Ms. Barton’s ability to draw intriguing characters, her talent for creating atmosphere and building the story bit by bit. You have a good idea of where things are headed with one unanticipated twist that was, in all honesty, the highlight of the book for me.
Ms. Barton writes extremely well and I would no doubt have enjoyed it much more if Bella hadn’t been a toddler. I realize that fact is what creates the tension and basis for the public’s reaction, for what Jean has suffered through since Bella’s disappearance. And yes, it’s well written, great pacing and character development. There’s a specific tension that draws you in while creating a slow boil.
However, THE WIDOW was a difficult read for me. The nature of the crime, the victim, not easy at all. Nowhere in the blurb does it tell you the victim is a toddler. If that had been known ahead of time, in all honesty, I wouldn’t have read THE WIDOW.
So, for all the aspects that make a well written book I have to give THE WIDOW 4 stars.
From a personal perspective, if there’d been no obligation to continue, I’d have stopped when the victim was revealed.