Book Title: The Wife
Author: Alafair Burke
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Genres: Mystery, Domestic Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Pub Date: 01/23/17
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 the man she married. And when she is asked to defend Jason in court, she realizes that her loyalty to her husband could unearth old secrets.
This book was a sandwich of compulsive reading material; it begins and ends with a bang and in between it kept my eyes glued and my mind engaged. No really, the first and last sentences were chilled to perfection. There is currently a flood of domestic/psychological thrillers in the book market; they are selling well and everyone wants a piece of that success. If you’re like me, you may be wondering how you can spot the ones worth reading without having to sift through all the mediocre wannabes. In short, it’s taken trial and error on my part to be able to find authors I can count on to bring me new stories with a familiar touch. Alafair Burke is one of the few we can trust implicitly.
In an instant, I became the woman they assumed I’d been all along: the wife who lied to protect her husband.
One of the many reasons that Burke is such a widely acclaimed novelist is due to the fact that she writes about what she knows, what is relevant, and in a way that people can relate to and connect with. In this particular story, she includes knowledge from her legal background, as well as her experience as a professor, and blends it into the timely matter of sexual assault and how the media responds to such. This was a bold story, one that shows all sides of this type of case, but it’s also riddled with side mysteries that were both clever and profound in their own way. There were many layers of complexity to the plot; I won’t go into heavy detail, because doing so would risk spoiling some of the exciting surprises and that would be a crime, but just know that this isn’t really the type of book the reader solves from the beginning. Sure, everything looks straightforward in the first couple of chapters, but then we start getting new information periodically. It was an absolute delight to find a novel that I didn’t have figured out in the first 15 pages!
I’m dying to include more quotes, but I just can’t risk setting off a bomb that might ruin the read for you, so I’ll just say that I was surprised multiple times over with the reveals. I wouldn’t say there is one major AHA moment; it more felt like every few chapters there was a new piece of the story revealed, and as each portion was thrown in it changed the story and showed things in a new light that we couldn’t see before. I think this is an undervalued tactic, because so many readers focus on a whodunnit type of mystery and trying to figure it out before all is revealed; here you are at the mercy of the writer. So yes, the twists were wonderful and greatly appreciated, but I also liked that this was a book which made me think. I’ve always taken such a clear stance on sexual assault claims; I’m a huge proponent of supporting other women who are walking through the horror of surviving that type of trauma, but this book made me question so many of my beliefs and prejudices.
If you’re looking for a domestic drama that includes just enough legal thriller and a dash of current events, this one’s for you. I can’t express how fulfilled I felt upon finishing this one; I was worried that I had finally burned out on the mystery/suspense/thriller genre, but I realize now that I just needed to pick up a classic, something that would hold my attention and blow me away with it’s sheer genius. If you’ve never picked up one of Burke’s novels-what are you waiting for? Seriously, pick up any of them! You can’t go wrong! I’m so pleased that I’ve found a winner to recommend so early in 2018 to all my buds; put this on on your list for January folks and read it quickly, because I need to chat about it with you!
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here.