The Widow by Fiona Barton

Posted: February 11, 2016 in Book Reviews
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I was given a review copy of this crime novel by the publishers prior to publication. It’s always interesting to read a novel from a debut writer, especially one that was shortlisted for the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition in 2014 and hotly contested in auctions around the world.

‘The Widow’ has been described as the next ‘Gone Girl’ or ‘Girl on a Train’. A description I disagree with, it hasn’t got the pace or depth of characters, but it is nevertheless a fascinating read.

It has an unusual take on the crime genre because it tells the story of an unsolved crime from the viewpoint of the widow of the suspect. The story starts with her husband’s death which of course releases his widow to reveal what she knows to both the police and journalists, if she chooses to do so.

The crime her husband is suspected off is abhorrent, the abduction with a likely rape and murder of a small child. Never an easy thing to live with.

The novel vividly brings to life what it must be like to partner and love someone suspected of such a crime. It is told from the viewpoint of the widow, Joan and also from the investigating detective and the journalist’s. The multiple points of view are woven together seamlessly and the story is very well constructed. The narrative moves between the present time after the death of her husband and four years ago when the child abduction occurred as well as the period immediately afterwards.

I particularly enjoyed reading a story about a suspect’s wife. As a probation officer, I spent a number of hours with offender’s partners helping them to understand what was happening and sometimes keeping the clamouring press at bay. The offender’s family are often a further victim of a crime, especially one like this and it was good to gain an insight into that world. However, I did find the pace flagged a bit at times and although a very good novel, it didn’t have that edge of your seat enjoyment factor that would promote this book to a five star read.

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