Review: “The Widow,” Fiona Barton

Pros: Fascinating mystery and characters
Cons: Too many characters to keep track of
Rating: 4 out of 5

The Widow, by Fiona Barton, is about a little girl named Bella, who disappeared from her yard one day. Except it’s also really the story of the wife (Jean or Jeanie) of the man (Glen Taylor) who’s been blamed for it, even though no one’s been able to get enough evidence to prove it was him.

This isn’t a thriller in terms of trying to race against time to save a little girl, or clue-by-clue track down the murderer. It’s very much a psychological thriller, not an action thriller. Most of the book concentrates on Jean, who’s always wanted to have a baby, but her husband Glen is infertile. She certainly doesn’t believe that Glen could be a pedophile… does she? The characters in this, from the detectives to the reporter, Kate, who comes to Jean, are portrayed wonderfully. The book is very much about what’s going on in Jean’s head and how she does (or doesn’t) handle the curve balls life keeps sending her.

Bob Sparkes is the inspector trying to catch Glen out so he can arrest him for Bella’s kidnapping and murder. He’s supposed to be off the case, but another detective, Salmond, helps him continue his investigation on the sly.

There are so many possible themes running through this one. Police officers’ rush to judgement, for one–going back to the beginning of the case, it became obvious mistakes were made and things weren’t looked at closely enough. The hounding of someone whom the police believe to be guilty, even if there isn’t enough proof. The ways in which that does (or doesn’t) fall back on the wife who believes her husband innocent. How and why the reporters do what they do to get and shape their story. And all along, there’s that one question underlying it all: what did happen to little Bella?

I became very engrossed in the lives of these people, and highly recommend the book for those who want to dive deep into the characters from a thriller rather than focus on the violence.


NOTE: Book provided free for review by publisher.
Expected publication date: February 16, 2016

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