Book Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

Book Review: The Widow by Fiona BartonThe Widow by Fiona Barton
Published by Random House on January 14th 2016
Rating: three-stars
Genres: Fiction, Crime, Thrillers, General, Psychological, Mystery & Detective, Suspense
Pages: 400
Buy: Hardback/Paperback|Kindle
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'If you liked GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, you might want to pick up THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton. Engrossing. Suspenseful' Stephen King
We've all seen him: the man - the monster - staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.
Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.
But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.
Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

Du Maurier's REBECCA meets WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and GONE GIRL in this intimate tale of a terrible crime.
'The ultimate psychological thriller' Lisa Gardner

The Widow is supposed to be 2016’s Gone Girl, or The Girl On The Train. Can I be the millionth person to say I’m SICK of books being referred to like that. The Widow is nothing like either of those two books, it just so happens to be a psychological thriller which obviously is where the comparison comes from. Just let books be what they want to be, publishers. Stop making them all the same, or putting them in the same box.

Now that that’s out of the way (I feel SO much better) I can talk about the book itself. The Widow is very much an intriguing read, because I’ve never read a novel before like this one, and you do wonder when it comes to people like the Taylors’, what kind of wife or woman can stand by someone who’s accused of something so horrific? A wishy-washy woman with no backbone is the answer, and so we have Jean Taylor. Not to be rude but when the book started, and she was talking about her simple life and simple job, I thought maybe there was something wrong with her? But no, she just lacks backbone, and while I enjoyed her narrative, I didn’t like her. I genuinely expected some kind of mouth-dropping twist at the end, that Jean was not all she seemed, and I was kind of disappointed she was the same the whole novel.

The real story for me was that of Kate, the journalist trying to get to the bottom of Jean’s story, and of Bob Sparkes, the detective trying to find Bella. You really root for both of them, because you really want to know what happened to Bella. Were they wrong about Glen? Right? Where did Bella go? A child doesn’t just vanish into thin air. And Bob’s dedication was to be applauded, because you want an officer to go as far as he can go to try and get answers. And I liked Kate, too. Her dogged determination was to be admired, and she seemed far nicer than your typical journalist.

I’ve long said that authors who write psychological thrillers are crap at endings. They very rarely get it right, and usually leave you with a ton of questions and this was the case again. We got some sort of resolution, but I kinda wanted to know what happened after that. And I still thought there was something amiss about Jean Taylor. That she wasn’t as sweet and innocent as she made herself out to be, and I just waited and waited for the gob-smacking twist that was never to appear. That’s another problem with these books, you expect a twist and end up disappointed when there’s a relatively mundane ending. For all that I’ve said I liked this book, it kept me reading, I just thought Jean Taylor was the most unreliable narrator I’ve ever met and I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her.


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