Monday, January 22, 2018

Review: The Wife

Summary: From New York Times bestselling author Alafair Burke, a stunning domestic thriller in the vein of Behind Closed Doors and The Woman in Cabin 10—in which a woman must make the impossible choice between defending her husband and saving herself.

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look—at both the man she married and the women she chose not to believe.

This much-anticipated follow-up to Burke’s Edgar-nominated The Ex asks how far a wife will go to protect the man she loves: Will she stand by his side, even if he drags her down with him? -- Harper

One of the benefits of hosting Mystery Mondays is that I've discovered many fantastic authors. Case in point: Alafair Burke. I have yet to read all of her novels, but the ones I have read are terrific. Her latest is THE WIFE, and it's a domestic thriller with an unreliable narrator... one of those books that seem to be so popular right now with readers.

THE WIFE tells the story of Angela, a woman working as a caterer in East Hampton when she meets the dashing Jason Powell, an economics professor at NYU. Within a year's time, they were married; and Angela and her son were able to leave her complicated past behind.

Six years have passed and Jason is a media darling due to his bestselling book and his appearances on television -- not exactly the quiet life Angela tried so hard to have. When a college intern makes a sexual harrassment complaint against him and then another woman comes forward with an even more serious accusation (and then goes missing on top of it!), Angela's life starts to fall apart. Jason proclaims his innocence to Angela, and Angela stands by him -- she even seems to believe him; however, these accusations force her to take a closer look at everything she once believed about her husband.

I flew through THE WIFE over Christmas break! I actually read this novel on the train up to New York for a mini-vacation with my husband, and I couldn't put it down. It was so engrossing that I didn't even mind when our train going into the city got delayed... and that's really saying something. It was everything I've come to expect from Ms. Burke -- fast-paced, well-developed characters, and a plot that kept me guessing.

I am beginning to think that I like unreliable narrators... if they are done well; and I think Angela as definitely a great character. There were some pretty serious secrets from her past that came out throughout the story, and without giving too much away, let's just say it's no surprise that she was a complicated character. My thoughts about her were all over the place in this novel. First, I felt bad that she was living with her husband's indiscretions; and then I felt even worse when I learned what she went though in her past. However, there were also times that I was really puzzled by her desire to believe her husband; and there were even a few moments when I just wanted to shake her. By the end of the novel, I actually felt as if I knew her even less than I did at the beginning... if that makes any sense!

Another character that I really appreciated was the woman investigating the allegations against Jason, NYPD Detective Corrine Duncan. She methodically worked the cases, as well as the missing person case, and in the process uncovered the disturbing secrets in Angela's past. The ending of the book gets rather complicated, and Corrine was able to figure things out. I really liked her and wouldn't be opposed to reading another book with her as an investigator.

The conclusion of Jason and Angela's story did get a little complicated, and I'm not embarrassed to say that I didn't see where this book was going. On some level, I guess a had a feeling, but in no way was I able to figure everything out. And that's one of the things that made this book so enjoyable -- the way the stories unfolded with a few surprises.

Overall, I think THE WIFE was a great read and ever so timely given the background story of sexual harrassment. I highly recommend it (and all of Alafair Burke's novels) to fans of mysteries and thrillers!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

Well done unreliable narrators are terrific but I suspect they're difficult to write well. I've heard a lot of great things about Burke's work and need to try one of her books.

Kim@Time2Read said...

This one DOES sound good!
Question: The synopsis says "This much-anticipated follow-up to Burke’s Edgar-nominated The Ex...."
Is it necessary to read The Ex before I read this one, or does it work as a stand-alone?

Julie P. said...


It totally works as a standalone!