It once again looks like winter outside, with just a few inches of snow covering the ground, and the colder temperatures have arrived. Good thing I'm prepared, with my steaming cup of chai tea, freshly baked date bread, and of course a stack of enticing books to keep me busy while staying warm and cozy inside.
I read a great book last week, The Widow by Fiona Barton. I have no idea how I heard about this title, but I had it on hold at the library and when it came in, it sounded really interesting so I brought it home. This novel focuses on one crime, the disappearance of Bella, a toddler who, according to her mother Dawn, was left alone in the front yard for only a few minutes before she was abducted. There are several persons of interest, but one man, Glen Taylor, features most prominently as a suspect, and the detective on the case, Bob Sparkes, is obsessed with trying to prove his guilt. Kate Waters, the reporter who is assigned to cover the case, befriends Glen’s wife, meek, submissive Jean, offering emotional support while also gaining an inside advantage for her story. When the book opens, Glen is dead, killed days before in an accident when he was hit by a bus while out grocery shopping with his wife. Jean is trying to cope with the loss, while also dealing with the renewed interest in the case. Although Bella disappeared several years earlier, she has never been found and the case has never been solved. The story is told from various points of view (the widow, the detective, the reporter, the husband, among others), and flips from past to present regularly. The story builds as details are revealed by each character and the minutaie of their lives, as well as that of the investigation, are explored until, by the end, this reader felt as though she had been inside each of these characters’ heads for a short time and saw how they lived their lives and why they made certain choices. This psychological thriller was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, an “unputdownable” novel that delved into the psyche of several characters very successfully. I am often disappointed by suspenseful novels that have a slow, steady build-up and then a flop of an ending, and I was afraid that this would happen with The Widow, too, but Barton managed to present an ending that was completely satisfying, entirely credible, yet still left something to the imagination - she didn’t insult the reader by “giving it all away”. There has been a wave of this type of novel in the past few years, psychological thrillers featuring unreliable narrators and using flashbacks to fill in the story. I have read a few, such as Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson, The Silent Wife by A S A Harrison, The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena, and In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. Some others that are perhaps the most popular, but which I didn’t care for and never finished, are Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I would say this one was almost as good as The Silent Wife, my personal favourite, in terms of building suspense while also creating empathy for the main character. If you like this type of novel, run, don’t walk, to your nearest library or bookstore and get your hands on a copy of The Widow by Fiona Barton (I just read that there will be a sequel coming out later this year entitled The Child - I can’t wait to read it!).
That’s all for today. Enjoy the sun while you can, and keep reading!
Bye for now…