Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Widow by Fiona Barton

For a debut novel, this one wasn't too bad actually.  It is a mystery in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, with a female protagonist.

I'm not giving anything away here when I say that at the outset, you learn that a possible kidnapper and child molester has just died. All of England had been riveted by, obsessed even (think OJ here in the States), this trial - mainly because it involved a 2 year old girl and lots of intrigue. In the immediate aftermath of his death, his widow is a a very popular subject for an interview and reporter, Kate Waters, is really trying to get an interview with her - it's popularly believed that the widow knows more than she has let on.

I don't want to get too much into the plot because a novel like this relies upon slowly revealing tidbits of information, like peeling back the various layers of an onion.  The story comes out in pieces, told by the three main players that still remain alive: the widow, the reporter and the main detective on the case.  In a case and story such as this, this particular method of story-telling proves to be very effective. The chapters are short and quick, letting a busy reader take in the story in short bites (which, for me, was perfect!). And somehow, Ms. Barton manages to create a smooth continuum to the story, even though the chapters are told from different perspectives.

I enjoyed the novel because it caused me to think about a few topics:  how much spouses really and truly know about each other, when they find out that knowledge, how they react to it and what they decide to do with that knowledge.   For instance, would I stay with a person that was simply accused of such a thing?  What if I had a gut instinct that it was true but no hard evidence?  After the person's death would I willingly sell what knowledge I had for my own personal gain?  What would it cost me?

This is a deceptively simply written book that challenges the reader to think about all of these things while entertaining at the same time. 

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