MURDER. SUSPICIONS. MYSTERY. thriller?
I was not made aware of this novel until I mentioned to my longest closest best friend (and book buddy) that I had no book to read at the moment (SHOCK HORROR!!!).
The Widow is a Sunday Times Bestseller and has been pitted as the next BIG thriller after Girl On The Train (according to the Glamour quotation on the front of the book, although I don’t think I will take that for gospel). So it is safe to say my expectations were high. Warning, this review deals with heavy themes and nothing should be taken to deeply, in particular my references to crime cases from British History.
The story had a plot that follows the tragic story of a young girl, Bella Eliott who goes missing from her front garden and the aftermath that surrounds the investigation. The story follows different people’s views who are somehow connected to the plot. Th leading investigating officer. A reporter. The Mother, the wife of the accused. Interestingly the narration jumps from past and present tense. In the present Bella Elliot’s ‘kidnapper’ Glen Taylor has just been run over by a bus. Starting from this point captures the readers interest and was pleasantly unexpected, which led me to believe that this novel was going to be different from the typical ‘Find Who Did It’ crime stories.
What struck me about this novel is Fiona Barton’s focus on telling the story from the view of not just the grieving mother or police officer who is on the case: but focus’s on the view of the reporter who befriends the accused’s wife and the accused’s wife herself. By exploring how the press can influence, and sometimes hinder, a crime investigation takes this story to a deeper and more darker level than I expected. This theme is one that I believe resonates particularly with a British reader and echos big crime stories such as, dare I say it, The Madeline Mcann case. This case was heavily media covered with wild theories being slung around which some would caused trouble for the investigation. It won’t be the first and it won’t be the last. Kate the reporter’s main objective is to get this story on the front page and treats the investigation is an extremely clinical manner. Kate’s dialogue is very matter of fact and rarely uses emotive language and does not seem to recognise Bella’s mother, as a grieving woman but as a 2D subject. There is rarely a chapter that goes by that she does not relate to characters in the framework of her news story. To me this is a clever technique by the author and reflects a negative view on how the press deal with personal and shocking stories seeing them as a selling tool instead of an event that destroys people’s lives.
So far so good, right? Wrong.
This novel was built up to me compared to Gone Girl, a deep and physiological detailed thriller which grips the reader page after page. All the ingredients were there. A mystery of a missing girl. A suspect, all be it dead, and his strange wife who is obsessed with having a family. Differing perspectives and the BIG issues of kidnap: a potential paedophile, surely this is a recipe for a great novel?
The only problem. I HAD GUESSED THE STORY WITHIN ABOUT FOUR CHAPTERS OF READING IT.
Now that’s not to say the plot is not a good one. The strong headed reporter who is interviewing Jean Taylor who is the killer’s wife. What could be wring with that?
Usually throughout mystery novels clues to the story’s twist are released slowly and skillfully so that a reader almost has to look back to see how they possibly missed a particular twist. However in Widow, the readers are meant to sympathise with Jean Taylor the wife of a murder, how could she have not known. The only problem with this is I knew she had some involvement almost the second that I started reading. Mainly due to the fact that the murder was dead, what I thought was a good twist at the beginning, a mystery where the perpetrator is not directly involved but that only left Jean. Yes, other suspects were presented but they were not fleshed out fully enough to be even considered.
This story has all the right elements a gripping and challenging plot line, exploring issues that many writers would not dare to tackle. Potential for greatness if it was not compared to such great novels. Classed as adult fiction the writing was far to simple, almost seems like it is more fitting for teens.
Worth a read but I doubt I will be reading it again.
Out of ten? 4.