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Monday, February 15, 2016

(17)The Widow by Fiona Barton

Jean Taylor's life is perfectly uneventful. She and her husband, Glen, can't have children, but they are happy with just the two of them. They go to work and they come home.  They almost never socialize and have no friends.   Their uneventful lives are disrupted when Glen is accused of kidnapping two year old Bella Elliot.   The police were never able to convict Glen, but the inspector on the case, Bob Sparkes never gave up.  He was just so sure that Glen Taylor was the culprit.  A few years have passed since Bella went missing when Glen Taylor falls in the path of an oncoming bus.  Jean Taylor is now a widow and reeling from the emotions that come with her husband's death. It has stirred up the press and they just won't leave her alone to grieve or move on.  One reporter in particular, Kate Waters, has struck a chord with Jean and she agrees to give an interview.  Her first ever.  As Jean prepares to share details with the world that have never been heard before, she knows it will tarnish her husband's memory.  She knows that it will stir up the media again.  She knows that it won't bring the closure that she craves, but she is willing to give it a shot. But the question remains, what happened to Bella?

The Widow is told from the drastically different viewpoints of Jean Taylor, Bob Sparkes, and Kate Waters.  The time-frame jumps around from the past and the present, but there is one consistent detail, Jean Taylor is perfectly unexciting and unassuming.  Jean's greatest attribute, and quite possibly her worst, is that she is entirely too trusting.  Whether it be her husband or Kate, the reporter, she trusted all of the wrong people.  The fact that her husband could not have children deeply shaped her personality, for there is nothing she wanted more. I would maybe even go so far as to say that it caused serious mental damage to her, not being able to have a child.   I struggled with liking Jean, but then considered the fact that she might be considered a victim herself.  The Widow has been compared to many recent psychological thrillers such as Gone Girl or Girl On A Train.  I don't necessarily agree with those comparisons, because those books had you on the edge of your seat. They had your heart racing.  The Widow does neither, but the book's slow and steady pace is familiar because that is the way Jean Taylor lives her life, both before and after Glen's death.  Slow and steady.  That is what makes The Widow a brilliant page turner.

Bottom line - in The Widow, Fiona Barton introduces her readers to a woman rarely mentioned in psychological thrillers.  The wife of the accused.  You will find that there is a lot to learn about Jean and that kind of insight is just too good to pass up.



SK Bell said...

This sounds so good! I am just such a fan of thrillers right now and I especially like thrillers involving “boring” characters. I just finished Her by Harriet Lane… yikes! Still so creeped out and distraught!