The Widow by Fiona Barton | Publisher: NAL | Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Jean Taylor’s husband is dead. Hit by a bus in an instant, an unexpected accident, and now that he’s gone, Jean Taylor is free to talk. And there are many people interested in what Jean has to say. For years, her husband was the main suspect in the disappearance, and possible murder, of a two-year-old girl named Bella.
Throughout the police and media scrutiny, Jean remained devoted to Glen, believing him innocent and incapable of hurting a child. However, now that Glen is dead, Jean reluctantly tells her story to Kate Waters, a reporter at a local newspaper who sweet-talks her way into Jean’s suburban London home. Kate wants details about Glen’s involvement with Bella’s disappearance, but Jean would rather talk about her life with Glen, explaining how she came to love and stay with a man with a dark side.
Through flashbacks from Kate’s perspective, the perspective of the lead police officer on the case, Bob Sparkes, and Jean’s own words we learn about the day Bella was abducted, the subsequent search and investigation, and how Glen came to be the main suspect.
There weren’t a lot of twists in this story. Everything happened pretty much as I thought it would, and that’s not a bad thing. With the popularity of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, most have come to expect a twist ending, but it’s not necessary when the storytelling is as compelling as it is here.
Fiona Barton reveals Jean to be just as complicated as her husband with her own demons. The Widow also provides a sobering look into how communities and the media devour these heartbreaking abductions with common decency often put on hold as reporters race to be first with the exclusive, and neighbors turn on each other at the slightest hint that all is not perfect. There’s even a depressing subplot which depicts how Sparkes’ obsession with finding Bella negatively affected his work and his relationship with his wife.
The Widow is a solid thriller, character study, and police procedural that you can consume in a quiet afternoon.